Now Sanya Richards-Ross has new appreciation for what swimmers go through during their Olympic competition schedule that so often has races on back-to-back days, if not within a half-hour interval.
Richards-Ross won the gold medal in the 400 meters Sunday night and was back on the track Monday, running in a 200-meter heat.
"My entire family has an apartment right next to the village and we all got together, my coaches, my husband, and we celebrated until about two this morning," Richards-Ross said. "Everyone kept saying, 'Go to sleep, go to sleep -- you have to run tomorrow.' But even when I laid down, I couldn't sleep. I was just so excited. I probably got four or five hours sleep max, but I'm excited to be on the track again and I just feel lighter and free and give my best and hopefully make it through the semifinals as well."
Richards-Ross got off to a slow start and was in fourth place entering the final 100 meters but kicked it into overdrive to win the heat in 22.48 and advance to the semifinals.
"Coach wanted me to come off the turn in front and I thought I had it, but then I saw [the runners ahead of me] and I didn't want to chance it," she said. "I wanted to win so I would have a good lane in the semifinals."
The other two American runners -- Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter -- also won their heats to qualify for Tuesday's semifinal. Felix had hoped to medal in the 100 and 200 but finished fifth in the former on Saturday. She won her heat easily in a time 22.71.
"I just really wanted to control the rest and conserve energy," said Felix, who is a favorite to win Wednesday's final.
Jeter still could double-medal after taking the silver in the 100. She ran a 22.65 to win her heat.
"I went out to run and get my mind back where it needs to be and right now it needs to be on the 200," she said. "... This is what we train for. We train for victories and sometimes we get defeats in the process. And we train to come back and line up and do it all over again. This is our job, our livelihood. When I know I have other races to commit to, you have to shake it off."
Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown qualified for the semifinals as well in 22.71 and 22.75, respectively.
Sunday's gold medal was the third for Richards-Ross but her first individual gold and she treated it a little differently.
"I had my gold medal on all last night -- I've never done that with a medal," she said. "I actually laid down with it for a minute. And then I gave it to my dad, who has been on this journey with me from the beginning and has worked so hard to help me accomplish this goal. So he is now the proud -- I guess 'temporary holder' of my medal."
Eventually, she said, it will go in the trophy case where she and her husband, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross, keep all their awards.