For track athlete and mom Lashinda Demus, it's been a long time coming. Demus is a classic example of hard work and perseverance paying off as well as learning to control what you can control and letting the rest handle itself.
After making her first Olympic team in 2004 as a college junior, Demus spent her senior year ascending to the next level. At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, she won the silver medal in her first season as a pro, still training under University of South Carolina coach Curtis Frye.
Demus ended the non-championship season of 2006 ranked #1 in the world. She was well on her way to winning an Olympic gold medal. She became pregnant in 2007 and on June 5th, gave birth to twin boys, Duante and Duaine. Demus wasted no time getting back into shape and training for the 2008 Olympic Trials. She led most of the race in Eugene but faltered down the homestretch, missing the USA team by 0.14 seconds.
Recognizing that her situation - being the mom of two babies while pursuing a career as a professional athlete - was not working out, she made the decision to move her husband and sons across the country to her mother's house in Palmdale, California. Demus had attended Long Beach Wilson as a prep. Her mother, Yolanda, became her coach, while her husband, Jamel Myrant, served as her agent.
Yolanda had been a national team member herself - in 1977 in the 400m - and had coached her daughter when she was in high school. Demus' quest for gold was now entirely a family affair.
With a solid support system in place, Demus continued her journey back to previous form. In 2009, she won the US Championships in a world-leading 53.78. She then ran even faster - the 4th fastest time ever - to win at the Herculis meet in July (52.63).
Demus was poised to complete her season with gold at the World Championships in Berlin but struggled over the 9th and 10th hurdles in the final and was passed by 2008 Olympic gold medalist Melaine Walker of Jamaica, who clocked the 2nd fastest time ever, leaving Demus with the silver medal.
Tonight in Daegu, Demus had plenty of fuel for this fire built up. This was her time, when all of the sacrifices she and her family had made to help her realize her dream would finally be rewarded.
Demus was in control the entire race and this time it was her turn to accelerate past Walker for the win. The clock flashed 52.47, the 3rd fastest time ever and a new American record, breaking Kim Batten's mark of 52.61 set in 1995.
"I was really focused on steps and technique, and making sure I had something left over the last 100," said Demus afterward.
"I am happy. I am grateful. I want to get home to see my sons. I still have not had a gold medal, so this is great. I just saw my mom; she was so happy. It feels so great to bring it home. Watching the twins is more difficult than running the 400m hurdles. Running is my little break for the day. My father and my grandmother have the twins right now. He told me that he wouldn't be able to sleep, as it's 5 a.m. in Los Angeles, so I know he's seen everything by now.
"This victory means that hard work pays off. I feel like I ran for my mother, the twins, my husband, my father, and for all the people who support me."
(Quotes courtesy of USATF.org)
Shortly after she crossed the finish line, her husband Jamel tweeted:
Yes she did.
Watch the race video below, courtesy of Universal Sports:
There are so many inspiring stories coming out of the World Championships in Daegu this year. Jenny Simpson's surprise win in the 1500 mrace is yet another of those memorable moments.Yes, Jenny. That really DID happen.
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