Through the ups-and-downs of her career, there’s always been reason to believe in Kori Carter.
I remember watching her destroy high school kids during her prep career in Southern California, where she was a five-time state champion. Then it took her a few years to get into her stride at Stanford, but once she did, it was game over.
Carter’s explosive junior year in 2013 was one of the more impressive I’ve ever seen. She rolled through the outdoor season with PR after PR, closing it all out with a collegiate record 53.21 seconds at the NCAA Championships.
With little left to prove on the college level, Carter proceeded to go professional, sign with Brand Jordan, and join Bobby Kersee’s Los Angeles-based training group that included the likes of Allyson Felix and Dawn Harper-Nelson.
Carter, however, experienced mixed success during her stint in L.A. She was still among America’s best in the 400 meter hurdles but didn’t put up the mind-blowing times she did in 2013.
After finishing an agonizing fourth at last year’s Olympic Trials, Carter decided to return to the tutelage of her college coach Edrick Floreal, now the head coach at the University of Kentucky.
In Lexington, she joined a training group plenty of star power in its own right— it features Olympic gold medalist Omar McLeod, world record holder Keni Harrison, and will soon include Sydney McLaughlin.
It’s pretty clear Floreal’s guidance has gotten Carter back to her winning ways. Carter finally broke that PR from 2013 with a 52.95 runner-up finish in a historically fast 400 meter hurdles race at USA’s.
Then came today’s World Championships final in London.
All eyes were on Olympic champ Dalilah Muhammad, who was seeded in the middle of the track in lane four, while Carter was out in lane nine.
Muhammad shot out of the blocks like a bullet and opened up a significant early on. But Carter quietly went out quite hard as well and pulled even with Muhammad around the final turn.
With Muhammad tiring after her fast start, Carter mustered the strength to pull away over the final two hurdles to win in 53.07 seconds, nearly a half-second ahead of Muhammad, who replicated her silver medal from Worlds in 2013.
It wasn’t quite a linear path for Carter to go from high school star to college standout to the world’s best, but she got there. And that’s a pretty sweet feeling for the athlete nicknamed the “Kori Monster.”