“I knew before it was going to be fast, I thought we would break the world record,” said Lashinda Demus after setting the Women’s 400-meter hurdles American Record at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. ”It was close … but I’m always happy to get the American Record and I’m happy to have the support of the previous holder,” expressed Demus, who’s 52.47 performance broke the previous 16 year old mark of 52.61 set in 1995 by Kim Batten.
Coming off the final hurdle just about even with Jamaica’s Melanie Walker, the reigning World Champion, Demus explains, “I made sure that I was focused . . . deciding what I’m going to do to the last hurdle way before I was at the last hurdle.” Demus, who had finished second to Walker at the World Championships in Berlin two years prior adds, “Running down the last 100, I said ‘I’m not going to take myself out of this race this year’ because that’s what I did the previous World Championships in ‘09.”
The former South Carolina Gamecock, ranked number one in the world in 2006, remains critical of her performance despite finally capturing her first world title. “[The technique] wasn’t the best, but it was good enough to win that day; but I would say my race pattern was better than the technique,” offers Demus who has “been working on the same race since 2009, I think it’s still a little more tweaking we can do to the race . . . and I think that’s what we are looking at for next year.”
And next year brings the hope of Olympic Gold in the 2012 London Games. “This I something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life,” reveals the newly crowned World Champion who acknowledges the difficulty of the more immediate goal of first qualifying to represent Team USA. “It‘s way more pressure to make the team then just actually competing for the team once you get there,” explains Demus who keeps her focus on what is near by “training to best of my capabilities that I can and being prepared for USA’s to make the team,” because “the hard part is getting through USA’s.”
And to that goal Demus adheres to her coach’s carefully plotted race schedule of only a select number of meets explaining, “You never want to let your competition get in on too much that you do.” With times of 54.58 in Shanghai on May 15th, 53.31 in Eugene on June 4th, and a USA Outdoor Championship on June 25th with a 54.21, Demus feels her “season didn’t go as well as [she] thought it would early on, but [she] did a lot of practicing,” explaining it as running “track meets on my own” and not wearing herself out “running all these races.”
And to the greater group of which she is a shining member, Demus is proud to represent women’s track and field on the whole. “We’re competitors,” boasts Demus, “We have no problem and no shame in trying to achieve who is the best. I know for sure we come head to head with our competitors more often than the men do.” Moreover, Demus regards it as a “blessing . . . to even consider a woman [Allyson Felix] being the face of USA Track and Field,” who she herself has been “blessed” with twin boys for which she gets “a lot of praises for balancing a family” with her track career.
Coached by her mother and represented by her husband, the business of Lashinda Demus is a family affair to which she responds, “I wouldn’t have it any other kind of way; I like having people that I know have my best interest in my corner.”
And having turned the corner of capturing her first individual World Championship title, Demus turns her sights to the Olympic stage looking to repeat the accomplishment and in the process becoming the first American woman to win Olympic Gold in the 400-meter hurdles. “I hope that I can make that happen,” says Demus upon learning of the opportunity.
And of her new American Record of 52.47, the third fastest time in history, Demus explains, “Times leave, they come and go . . .I’d much rather had the gold medal than any record because nobody can take a gold medal away from you; that’ll go down in history; that medal is there to stay.”
The world record set by Russia’s Yuliya Pechenkina on August 8th of 2003 stands at 52.34, only .13 seconds away from Demus’ record setting performance on September 1st of 2011.