As part of Metro's ongoing coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games in London, we're introducing readers to the athletes who will be representing the United States. Previously: fencer Daryl Homer, gymnast Aly Raisman, swimmer Ryan Lochte, distance-runner Molly Huddle, equestrian Karen O'Connor, marathoner Ryan Hall, wrestler Jordan Burroughs and Paralympic athlete April Holmes.
There is no hurdle that cannot be conquered by Lashinda Demus. A mother of twins, she is also one of the fastest women's hurdlers in the world. The 29-year-old track & field runner competed in the Olympics in 2004, but suffered disappointment after failing to qualify in 2008. Now, in 2012, it is Demus' year to shine.
Demus' speed and grace is something of another world. She currently holds the women's 3rd fastest time ever at 52.47 for the 400 meter hurdles. Now, hours before the opening ceremony begins, Demus serves as a role model to younger athletes who are taking their first shot at glory.
Metro caught up with Demus as she prepares to go for gold in London.
Metro: How much did it mean to you to qualify for the team this year?
Demus: Making the US team this year has truly been amazing. I was on the 2004 team and missed the 2008 team by .14 of a second, so making this team feels great!
Are you hoping to break your current record of women's third-fastest time for the 400m hurdles?
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I would love to break my own record, as well as the world record. Right now I am just focusing on taking home the gold. But if I happen to break a couple of records along the way, that would be amazing!
Who do you think will be your biggest competition at the games?
There are so many great competitors out there, so I think we will all be each other’s biggest competition.
How do you stay focused when you're feeling pressure? Do the nerves ever get to you?
I try not to let my nerves get the best of me, which is always hard. I like to visualize my perfect race: clearing each hurdle, making each step. If I stutter step or slightly graze a hurdle in my visualization then I start over. I always like to send with a perfect race in my mind, that later transforms to the track.
What do you like to eat before and after an event?
Maintaining a consistent diet when training and competing is really important. One thing I make sure I get is a good amount of protein and that’s why I love Chobani Greek Yogurt, and it doesn’t hurt that my kids love it, too. In my regiment, I eat a Chobani Greek Yogurt, with twice the protein of regular yogurt, 45 minutes before a workout or event and also post-event to help my muscles recover.
What is your typical training day like?
I like to start my day with a small/healthy breakfast. I eat a cup of Chobani Pineapple with Cheerios. I then drop my twins off at school and head to practice. I stay at the track about 3-4 hours. During that time, I usually have a muscle milk and a cup of Chobani (Strawberry). After practice, I head to weights for a couple of hours, jump in an ice bath for about 15 min and then head to get a little [physical therapy] done. After the day, I head home to make dinner for my family and help out the boys with their homework.
Have you imagined what it would be like to win gold? How do you picture that moment?
Winning the gold medal at the Olympics would be a dream come true. If I were to win the gold, I would be the first American woman to take home the gold in the 400m hurdles. Growing up and watching the Olympics, I always imagined myself on the podium, representing my country. This time it would be a little different because I image being on the podium looking down at my sons and letting them know that I have left them a legacy and anything is possible.
Do you have any superstitions or lucky charms?
I don’t really have any superstitions or lucky charms. I do like having my family in the stands at my meets though. I love looking up and seeing them there.