Carmelita Jeter Talks About the 2012 Olympics and the Business of Track and Field

The 2012 games will be your first time at the Olympics. Are you a little nervous?

I’m definitely pushing myself to the limit and I’ll be complete when I get on that team. No, I’m not worried or nervous about anything. If you’re ready and you train hard it will show when you line up. I know that I train hard everyday and I put my heart and soul into track and field.

Did you have alternative career plans in case track and field didn’t work out?

I had a couple of back up plans. In college and in high school before I ran track I wanted to play basketball and even growing up I wanted to be in the WNBA. I wanted to be Sheryl Swoopes and have my own Nike shoe. That was my dream and if running didn’t go the way I wanted it to go my backup plan was to be to be a coach or a teacher, which I did. I worked at my high school once I graduated from college.

Why did you decide to quit playing basketball?

In my freshmen year my coach said “Why don’t you try out for track and field in the off season and come back to basketball when we start conditioning again?” So I did track, made varsity and I loved the competition. I loved taking the credit if I won or lost. I loved the competition aspect of track and field more than I loved basketball because basketball is a team sport. There are five people on the court passing the ball and it’s going to take all five of those people to win the game. With track I liked how it took one person to win the race.

Who are some runners you admire?

I always wanted to be like Gail Devers. I loved watching her hurdle and I loved when she ran the 100m she was so aggressive and powerful. She had her own swag about her with her hair and nails. She was definitely someone I wanted to be like even though I wasn’t coordinated enough for hurdles. I couldn’t run and jump but she made me want to be a hurdler. I respect the women that are out there now because it’s a hard job. You definitely have to make track and field a lifestyle.

How long is the lifespan of the average professional sprinter’s career?

I think everyone is different. I’m 32-years-old right now at the top of my game and a lot of runners were at the top of their game when they were a lot younger than me. It depends on the person’s body. I was hurt for so many years and I wasn’t able to compete at a higher level when I was younger. I believe it depends on if track and field is the most important priority in the person’s lifestyle in terms of sleeping well, eating right and minimizing partying. You can run as long as you’re able. Gail Devers ran until she was almost 40. I don’t believe you have a number on how long you can compete.

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