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Sanya Richards-Ross Talks Wanting It All


Sanya Richard-Ross arrives at our offices surprisingly dressed down. Considering this is the girl who won her Gold medal race in gold Chanel earrings, I was expecting a decked-out display of her personal fashions. Instead, she's dressed in black leggings and a track jacket–how appropriate. She's spent the last week attending her personal picking of NY Fashion Week Spring 2013 Runway shows, and after our interview she's heading down to Florida, where she will be honored at her husband's season-opening game, but not before a quick stop by the White House—the President would like to meet her.

But behind the press opportunities, Presidential congratulatory meetings, cover-story photo shoots, Sanya Richard-Ross is–dare I say–a normal girl. She's grotesquely over-packed and despite being in Olympic shape, she and her publicist (who's also her cousin), are completely overwhelmed at the thought of carrying their luggage on to the train by themselves. They giggle at the advice Sanya's mom gave them a few moments earlier (delivered in their best Jamaican accents of course): "Get a porter, there'll be one at the train station!"

"At Grand Central?" I ask.

"Yes!" They're cracking up. "She swears they have porters!"

"Good luck with that," I chide.

Soon, we begin chatting like we're two girlfriends catching up, and before I know it, she's telling me about the time she checked an older lady for pushing up on her then fiancé, NFL Cornerback Aaron Ross. "It was right after they won the Superbowl...these ladies were taking pictures, so this older lady comes up and puts her leg literally on him!," she recalls. "I looked at her and said, 'Do you think that was appropriate?' Ross was so embarrassed, he looked at me like 'oh my gosh babe don't do that!'" She laughs, confessing that she's the jealous type and has no problem speaking up, "I don't care if you're 2 or 82, if you're making me uncomfortable or pushing up too much, I'm a tell you." #SanyaShrug.

She and Aaron met their freshman year of college and have been together ever since. On their first date, they went to church. "A Christian man was really important to me – my relationship with my Lord and Savior comes first."

I'm liking this girl, she's the type of woman I'd actually take relationship advice from, so I dig deeper, hoping to learn a few things from the superstar athlete who shares her stardom effortlessly with her famous (and, might I add, quite attractive) husband. She says they make sure to let each other shine in their own arenas, never detracting from each other's success.

"I think we're both stars in our own right. I think that's one of the things to that makes our relationships successful, we don't compete for the spotlight, we allow each other to shine whenever the time is right." For those who say there isn't enough room for two stars in a relationship, the Ross' prove the contrary.

But independent women out there take note, there's only one head of the Ross household. "I think that anything with two heads is a monster, and there has to be one head of the household, and it has to be your husband. I think being submissive is the best trait a woman can have, you have to trust that your husband (or your fiancé or your boyfriend, if he's the right guy) won't make a decision that's going to affect you or him in a negative way. I allow my husband to be the man and lead our household. If he makes a mistake I'm going to support him 100%." I'm now shaking my head in that, 'you go, girl' kind of way.

There is no doubt how much she loves her husband, you can see it her smile when she speaks about him. It's an emotion of sheer joy only closely mirrored when she begins to talk about her Olympic medal wins. She collected two medals in London this summer, bringing her total metal count over her three Olympic games to five. But it was her individual Gold medal win in the 400 meter in London that captured the hearts of Americans and the covers of every newspaper in the nation.

"It was utter joy–it was a dream I had since I was a little girl to be an Olympic champion and to actually accomplish that. The best picture is [the one] I kind of have my head back and my head up really thanking God that I had that moment, because I don't take for granted that it actually happened."

And for good reason. After a heartbreaking bronze medal finish in Beijing in 2008, Richards-Ross' road to Gold in London was plagued with obstacles. She suffered a serious injury and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that made her recovery quite difficult. Making it to London was a long and unsure journey, and once there, she was determined not to let gold slip away. "A lot of people toil and work really hard and never get to experience that level of success," she says."I was very appreciative."

As the national anthem played in London, she says he realized she had finally achieved her lifelong dream. "They're playing the national anthem just for you, you're like, this is real, I did it! It just seemed like it happened so quickly, the song was over in, like, a second! I'm like, I know the national anthem is longer than that! But it's just like you want to be in that moment for ever. It just goes by so quickly and you have all these memories of all the hard work and the disappointments, and all of it is just worth it when you're on top of the podium."

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