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Meet the Superfast Sprinters Headed to the World Champs

Aleia Hobbs, Melissa Jefferson, and Twanisha Terry race in less than 11 seconds.

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The female 100 meter contenders get their first shot to show what they’ve got on day two of the 2022 World Athletics Championships. The first heat of the women’s 100 meters is at 5:10 p.m. on July 16. The semi-finals will be held the following day. And the event wraps up that same evening, July 17, at 7:50 p.m., the last event of the day.

Representing the United States in the 100 meter races are three women who are prepared to go all three rounds: Aleia Hobbs, Melissa Jefferson, and Twanisha Terry. We spoke with these very fast women ahead of world champs to see how they are preparing.

Aleia Hobbs

Aleia Hobbs looks on after competing in the Women 100 Meter final during the USATF Championships at Hayward Field on June 24, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Aleia Hobbs has flown under the radar for a few years. In 2018, while still competing for LSU, she won four NCAA titles, set the collegiate record indoors in the 60, and beat all the pros at USAs to win a national title in the 100. She had everybody’s attention; she was the main storyline every time she competed. But getting her footing as a new professional runner wasn’t as easy as she thought it might be, and Hobbs had a few years of performances that weren’t as extraordinary.

But five years later, she’s back—and she wants everybody to know. “This year I ran my first PR in five years,” she said. “I’m not gonna lie. At some point I was like, Am I ever gonna PR? I was getting a little discouraged. But I never lost faith and kept believing in myself.”

Hobbs said even this season has been a little shaky. She’s had COVID twice in the past six months, the most recent time just two weeks ago, after placing second in the 100 at the U.S. Championships in 10.72. This was the first bid Hobbs has earned to the World Championships in her career. Thankfully, COVID didn’t affect her as intensely the second time, and she only missed four days of training.

“At this point in the season all the work is done. I have a ton of work under my belt,” she said. “I might have even needed a little rest.”

Age: 26
100m PR: 10.81 (wind-legal)

Best part of training: “Being able to train! I’m used to fighting off all kinds of injuries. I love not having to stop for anything. I’ve been healthy this year in terms of injuries.”

Worst part of training: “The heat. In Baton Rouge it’s still about 90 degrees. I love the heat for a race but not for a three hour workout.”

Best piece of advice received: “It’s not about how you start. It’s about how you finish. Hopefully that’s a metaphor for my outdoor season.”

Pre-race superstition: “I don’t have any.”

Go-to summer jam: “Very Special” by NoCap or “Wait For You” by Future

Melissa Jefferson

Melissa Jefferson hugs Twanisha Terry
Melissa Jefferson hugs Twanisha Terry after winning the Women 100 Meter Dash Final during the USATF Championships at Hayward Field on June 24, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Melissa Jefferson is the fastest woman in America. In what was a surprise to everybody but herself and her teammates, Jefferson won the 100-meters at the U.S. Championships in 10.69.

Competing for Coastal Carolina, she was devastated by her seventh-place finish at NCAAs this year. Jefferson was the 60-meter NCAA champion indoors and she felt like it put a target on her back for the outdoor season. She said the pressure was too much for her and she ultimately crumbled. Thanks to a chance of mindset, the stakes at nationals felt lower; she was merely a collegiate among the pros, and she could exist more quietly.

“I felt like I had nothing to lose. Nobody was expecting me to do as well as I did, outside of the people who know me and how hard I’ve been working,” Jefferson says. “I went in with the mentality that I was going to do better than I did at NCAAs and that I was gonna have fun with it and it worked.”

Jefferson said her faith has kept her grounded through the ups and downs of this season. She said she’s loyal to the people she’s around and doesn’t need a lot of people in her corner. And she’s not messing around when it comes to showing up for the people she loves: When she was younger, she was her dad’s kidney donor. During our interview, she kept apologizing because her boyfriend was playing Call of Duty across the room and wouldn’t stop yelling at the TV. She didn’t judge him though; she just kept letting him do his thing.

Age: 21
100m PR: 10.82 (wind-legal)

Best part of training: “Blocks.”

Worst part of training: “Longer reps; any day you get your lactic in.”

Best advice ever received: “Don’t get upset about the things you can’t control.”

Pre-race superstition: “For breakfast I have to have eggs, bacon, and fruit. I don’t eat bread. I always say my prayers right before the warm-up.”

Summer jam: “Keeper” by Toosii or “So My Darling” by Rachel Chinouriri

Twanisha Terry

Twanisha Terry doing her post-race dance
Twanisha Terry of the reacts after winning the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.77 during the USATF Golden Games at the Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday, April 16, 2022. (Photo: Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

This is Twanisha “TeeTee” Terry’s first year as a professional athlete, and she’s making the most of it. After a third place finish at the U.S. Championships in the 100 in a time of 10.74, she qualified for her first worlds. Her wind-legal 10.87 from the semifinals makes her the eighth-fastest woman in the world heading into the meet.

TeeTee likes to be good at everything she does. In her four years at the University of Southern California, where she was an All-American five times in her senior year alone, she earned two degrees in four years—her undergrad in communication and her Masters in entrepreneurship.

TeeTee is known for her exuberant, carefree energy after the races. The media and fans love her because she brings her whole personality to the cameras and microphones. She has a signature Miami dance where she pretends to ride a dirt bike. It seems like she loves the attention and to be centerstage.

“I like to come into the meet and not worry about the pressure from the media. I just want to go out there, perform, be me, do my own thing, not think about anybody’s expectations,” she said. “I love doing interviews and stuff after, but being in the spotlight heading in, I don’t really care for that.”

Age: 23
100m PR: 10.87 (wind-legal)

Best part of training: “Anytime I’m around my teammates. Critiquing the little things.”

Worst part of training: “Dying in the heat. Long workouts.”

Best advice you’ve ever received: “There’s always a squirrel trying to get a nut. You’ve gotta show up on the day.”

Pre-race superstition: “I don’t compete in the same spikes I train in.”

Summer jam: “03 Flow” by Wallie the Sensei