Updated: Thu, 31 May 2012 19:49:38 GMT | By

USA: Jason Richardson

Born: 04/04/1986

Jason Richardson during the 110 metres hurdles at the 2011 World Championships. (© Press Association)

Jason Richardson during the 110 metres hurdles at the 2011 World Championships.

Born: 04/04/1986

Place of birth: Houston, USA

Event: Athletics

Previous Olympics: 0

Previous medals: 0

Jason Richardson is not a typical athlete.

Whereas most Olympians have been driven by a life-long obsession to finish first - a will to win that even dictates their lifestyle away from the track - Richardson has been a somewhat more reluctant sporting star.

Born to a civil engineer and a secretary, the American's upbringing in Cedar Hill, Texas, was dominated by academia.

A passion for calculus and debating took precedence in his early years, and he only started to take an interest in athletics, and particularly hurdling, at the age of 12 when he discovered he could get a college scholarship through his exploits on the track.

Richardson did eventually secure a scholarship to the University of South Carolina (USC), but by the time he had moved to college he had already made a name for himself through his sporting success.

In 2003, the youngster won gold in the 110 metres and 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada. It was an astonishing triumph - the first time an athlete had completed the hurdles double at any major IAAF event - and it earned Richardson the accolade of USA Track and Field Youth Athlete of the Year for 2003.

However, although he had the world at his feet, and his relaxed style and slender frame were lending themselves well to contrasting hurdling distances, Richardson was still only training two or three times per week. It was hardly the schedule of a man with Olympic glory on the mind.

When pushed on whether he really saw his future in athletics, he would speak of his desire to become a lawyer first. Losing a race, he said, was "not a big deal".

He had the opportunity to test out that mantra during a frustrating time at USC, where injuries hampered his performances. A hamstring strain quashed his hopes of making the USA team for the 2008 Olympics, and as he lost momentum he came close to quitting as a competitive athlete shortly afterwards.

However, he didn't - and the rest, as they say, is history.

After leaving USC, Richardson began to realise his full potential. He battled back to fitness and form in Los Angeles under the tutelage of new coach John Smith. It proved to be a perfect match, and he was rewarded for his endeavour with an overdue slice of luck at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

In the 110m hurdles final, Richardson finished second to Cuban athlete Dayron Robles, only for the team behind third-placed Liu Xiang of China to protest that the winner had strayed out of his lane. The officials agreed, and Richardson was awarded his first World Championships gold medal.

He subsequently admitted that the victory was a bittersweet one - although it did catapult him to a new level of stardom on the track.

More importantly, though, he finally had the success to convince him he could compete with the very top names, and a new determination not to settle for second best.