By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) - For most of her life, Sanya Richards-Ross has done everything at full speed. As an Olympic sprinter, it is an occupational hazard she has learned to live with.
But surgery has put a halt on her athletic ambitions, at least for now. The 28-year-old took a break after last year's London Olympics to repair a problem in her big toe that had plagued her for years.
By her own standards, the American has had to take things slow. Her recovery from an operation, where surgeons shaved two bones on her troublesome big toe, took longer than expected.
She only began training three weeks ago, on a special treadmill which reduces the body weight placed on her foot.
Richards-Ross was not able to put her spikes on until this week but makes her competitive return at Saturday's Adidas Grand Prix, the New York leg of the Diamond League.
The race has attracted a stellar field, featuring the last two Olympic champions and the last three world champions.
"Right into the fire, just the way I like it," Richards-Ross told a news conference in Manhattan on Thursday. "I feel that in order for me to be ready for the world championships I just need to get back on the horse.
"I just want to see where I'm at so I may as well race the best and hopefully they'll pull me to a great time."
For Richards-Ross, Saturday's race is a way for her to gauge her fitness. Her goals are still further down the track.
Her first ambition is to make the U.S. team for this year's world championships and build towards the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Richards-Ross already has four Olympic gold medals, tying the all-time record for any female in track and field.
She was a member of the American relay team that won the 4x400 meters gold at Athens, Beijing and London, and also won the individual 400m title in London last year.
"I'm not too concerned about my condition here. I just want to get going and get ready for nationals in June and world championships in August.
"I'm having fun, I have my Olympic gold medals, so I will not get stressed out."
While she may have been taking it easy on the track, Sanya has been living the rest of her life in the fast lane.
She owns a hair salon in Texas and has been starring in a reality television show, called "Glam & Gold," with her husband, a National Football League cornerback who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
With four Olympic gold medals already in her possession, she might have been tempted to call it quits after London but said her success has only reinforced her determination to continue.
"I definitely want to compete for four more years," she said. "I'm going through to Rio then I'm going to start having babies.
"I wasn't sure if I wanted to go past 2008 and go to '12 but now I know for sure."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)