Olympian Carmelita Jeter reaches her “Breaking Point”

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by Chris LaMonica
October 15, 2012

From the myriad of the predatory camera flashes, the defining, indelible image of a split moment in time emerges, with the design of bringing to captivity, the sporting instance that will earn its unique epithet and set the historic narrative often relegating its athletic participants to an inescapable fate of either glorious triumph or agonizing defeat.

Michael Jordan’s 1995 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 buzzer-beater over the Cleveland Cavaliers has been dubbed “The Shot.”  Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris’ unlikely catch and score of a loose ball jarred by a vicious hit from Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum on Steelers halfback John Fuqua leading to a 13 - 7 AFC divisional playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders earned the title, “The Immaculate Reception.”  And the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s improbable victory over a heavily favored Soviet Union squad has been nicknamed the “Miracle on Ice,” spurred on by famed broadcast announcer Al Michaels memorable call of, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

Now just two months removed from the host city London closing ceremonies of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, a new snap shot of sports history has forged its way into the sporting dramatic. The Friday, Aug 10 approximately 40.82 record breaking seconds after 8:40pm local time that yielded the much talked about and inquired of memorable, hand wrapped around the black and white decaled London 2012 baton finger point at the Omega Time Clock that generated the genuine, immediate emotional response of USA 4x100-meter Women’s relay anchor Carmelita Jeter has officially been provided its own sobriquet.

Breaking Point,” officially selects Carmelita Jeter at Chris LaMonica of The Fast Life’s offering of ‘Point-Break” or “Breaking Point’ as the now definitive reference to this historic athletics moment which Jeter herself categories as, “epic.”

“Everyone wants to know what was going through my head when I pointed at the clock,” stated Jeter in the wake of her now signature moment from the 2012 London Games. And of the thoughts and emotions rushing through the sprinter’s mind at that instance, now finding herself an Olympic Gold medalist, Jeter reveals, “the doubters,” to be first and foremost on her mind at the particular moment.

“There were so many people doubting the USA Team Women’s 4x1,” explained Jeter adding, “people were thinking we weren’t going to get the stick around … or run out of the [exchange] zone [because] we hadn’t had a gold medal in the relay in quite a while.”

The U.S. Women’s 4x100m Relay team comprised of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, anchored by Jeter improved upon by .56 seconds the more than two decades old previous mark of 41.37 set by the German Democratic Republic in June of 1985.

“That was an epic moment. We changed the 4x1 for women sprinters,” argues Jeter explaining, “it was always said that no one could break the 27 year-old record set by Germany and we did it!” emphatically denouncing the notion, “that women aren’t able to break records.”

Furthermore, in what she considers one of her “highlights in 2012,” Jeter, discovering fans in meeting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle in September and finding herself, “in awe on how down to earth they were,” was astonished by the President’s conversation recanting her 4x100m relay race and ‘Breaking Point’ moment with Jeter now making public a concealed admission of excitement, “thinking to myself, President Barack Obama watched me run!”

And with a ‘presidential push’, the 2012 Olympic Silver medalist has motivated desires to continue to break women’s individual records in her oval office.  “Of course I want to run 10.4; who doesn’t want to beat Flo-Jo’s time,” exclaimed Jeter who holds the second fastest time in history behind the late Florence Griffith Joyner’s world record.  “10.49 was an amazing time ran by Flo-Jo and that’s something that I want to hit one day,” stated Jeter adding, “if you’re a sprinter, you want to beat her time!”

Jeter’s 100-meter personal best time currently sits a 10.69 set in Shanghai just slightly over three years ago on Sept 20 of 2009 and her 2012 seasonal best 10.78 seconds earned her the Olympic Silver medal.

Citing an “an amazing field of women in the same race [with] the best conditions all the way across the board,” as the requirement to approach the world record, Jeter believes, “it’s doable; if it was done once it can definitely be done again.”

Beyond conquering the training and exceeding physical limitations, Jeter queries the race schedule and availability of races as an impedance toward achieving the world record time suggesting the separation of days between races to be a culprit, “[causing] you not to be able to really get a rhythm.”

“In 2009 women were running a little faster because we had so many races back to back,” credits Jeter as a conducive factor to her personal best 10.69 seconds and moreover, hopes the 2013 season will provide an avenue to replicate and ultimately improve upon the past success planning, “to find more races for [her] to race to where [she] does not have so much rest time.”

Jeter will resume training for next season during the first week of November, while also realizing age 33 in the latter part of the month, does so cognizant of her goal to compete in the Rio Games in 2016. “We’re planning already how we’re going to prepare; how we’re going to lead up to 2016,” revealed Jeter of a recent conversation with her agent.

Aware of the added wear and tear to the body from running the turn of a 200-meter race in addition to advancing toward the age of 35 as the 2016 Olympics narrows its approach, Jeter reveals, “I’m still going to run the 100 and the 200, but we’re going to balance my schedule a little different for 2013 to where I won’t run as many 200s or maybe I’ll cut back on a couple of 100s,” astutely adding, “we have to be smart on how we approach my next four years … and try to make it that when I do run, I definitely have to be ready for the races that I compete at.”

Additionally of the 200-meter event, in which Jeter now owns 2011 World Championship Silver and 2012 Olympic Bronze, she still considers it, “a little tricky event,” despite having made personal advancements in her race over the past year.

“As you run the 200m more, you learn your rhythm; you learn this is where I need to back up a little bit, this is where I need to speed up a little bit,” explained Jeter of her personal growth strategy with the event on the professional level running against women more seasoned in the event.

But there is nothing ‘tricky’ in regards to Jeter’s first race against her greatest competitor in 2013 that will not even be on the track as the Olympian continues her partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure in their tireless fight against breast cancer.

 “I lost my aunt to breast cancer this year in March,” revealed Jeter describing it as, “one of the most difficult things for me to deal with,” reminding that, “athletes are still people … and it was really tough for me to go through losing my aunt and still having to prepare for the London Games mentally and physically.”

Watching a family member succumb to breast cancer, “really hit home” for Jeter as it rendered her powerless in reversing the disease, but her attendance and participation at the LA Dodger Stadium Race for the Cure in March of this year conversely was empowering.

“I heard so many stories from so many women how they battled and they fought,” expressed an emotionally moved Jeter adding of the women who conquered the unforgiving disease, “It was so amazing to hear these women tell you how they were just determined.”

Understanding the non-discriminatory nature of breast cancer, the passionate Olympian cannot stress enough the value of getting examined. “These are young women battling for their lives and we really need to get in there and get tested as early as possible,” authoritatively stated Jeter informing that, “if you can catch it before it develops into something bigger, you can stop it!” 

Back on the track equally challenging but with far less dire consequences, is Jeter’s rival and now repeating Olympic 100m Champion, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

“It’s good! It’s very good for the sport on the women’s side,” happily stated Jeter explaining of the rivalry that saw Jeter best Fraser-Pryce in the Lausanne and Birmingham seasonal post-Olympic Diamond League Meetings which were ultimately book-ended by defeats to the Jamaican at the London 2012 Olympic 100m Final and the Zurich Diamond League 100m Final. “One thing that we’re always trying [is] to get more exposure, more endorsement,” explains Jeter in general of all rivalry as being beneficial to the sport adding, “people want to see us race, they want to see the competition and it makes it to where you can’t have a meet without having us!”

And as much as track is predominantly individual sport, Jeter knows that she truly cannot succeed without Team Jet’s coaches and doctors. “I have so many people that support me and give their heart and soul when I line on that track,” stated Jeter crediting Doctors Craig Dossman and Michael Sheps and Coach John Smith with keeping her together during what she labeled, “a crucial time.”

To make the Olympic possibility a first time reality for Jeter, she needed to first qualify for the team at the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June at Hayward Field. “Everything has to be right for that ten seconds and sometimes it doesn’t always work that way,” said Jeter depicting the three week window preceding the trials which included the nationally televised PreFontaine Classic and New York’s Adidas Grand Prix races that saw the Nike sprinter place 5th at 200m and 3rd at 100m respectively.

“My coach, John Smith, was trying to put as much in without dinging me up even more,” explained Jeter remembering it as, “a rough three weeks … to try to keep everything together.”

But ultimately the Cal State Dominguez graduate guided by her legendary sprint technique coach John Smith navigated the tribulations in route to first and second place finishes in the 100 and 200 meter events respectively at the U.S. Olympic Trials making her first time Olympian and dual qualifier for Team USA.

“I’m a visual learner,” stated Jeter who trained with the assistance of computer models this season that afforded her the opportunity, “to see where my foot plants; I can see where my behind is up to high in the blocks [and] I can see how many steps I need to take to get to certain point.”

Noted for being a strict technician and aware of how Jeter visually processes instruction, John Smith found favor with the advent of the elite athlete computer modeling system leaving Jeter to remark, “He wants everything the way he wants it, how he wants, when he wants it and it wants it to be perfect!” further explaining of the implementation which was conducted about every three months to also be good for him because, “he could visualize where he [needed] to take me.”

And where she wanted to go was London 2012 as the glaring omission from the decorated World Champion sprinter’s resume was an Olympic medal. “The one thing I was missing was anything that said Olympics on it,” expressed the 2011 World’s 100m Champion crediting the absence of an Olympic games appearance as, “{pushing] her from 2008 and on, to be a better athlete.”

And after stepping back and absorbing her 2012 Olympic performance that saw the Los Angeles native capture 100m silver, 200m bronze and world record 4x100m Relay gold, a thrilled, content and gracious Jeter happily offered, “It doesn’t get any better than that!”

And regarding the 4x100m relay, in hopes of running ‘better than that’ 40.82 world record, Jeter believes, “the sky is the limit,” but reserves an ounce of caution understanding Track and Field to be, “a tricky game,” due to injuries or an athlete not training as a hard the following year, adding, “things change every year … you never really know who is going to be on [the relay], but the team we ran with in 2012 was a perfect team, it was great chemistry.”

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