Lashinda Demus Speaks About Her Possible Olympic Gold Medal Upgrade

Out Of The Blocks

November 10, 2022

Was I shocked? No, because we know that people do it. 10 years later, am I happy? No. That took a lot of money away from me and a moment.”

Jasmine Todd and Katelyn Hutchison speak with former U.S. 400m hurdle star Lashinda Demus just a few weeks after the news broke that Russia’s Natalya Antyukh has been stripped of her results from July 2012 to June 2013, which includes the 2012 Olympic gold medal. Demus is now in line to be upgraded to gold. They get her reaction to that news but also go through her full career as one of the best 400m hurdles in history. She was a four-time world championship medalist and two-time Olympian. Now, she is a mother of four boys and is working in clinical research while also coaching at the high school level.

Once Demus is officially upgraded, she will make history as the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the event and joins a small class that includes Dalilah Muhammad (2016) and Sydney McLaughlin (2021). This is her first interview since the news of the possible upgrade.

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On her competitive drive throughout her career:

“I always think I’m gonna win…I hate losing more than I love winning”

On how she views the changes in protection for athlete mothers and maternity reductions:

“I hid my pregnancy from Nike up until 6 or 7 months. I was very, very depressed when I found out I was pregnant because it was right after having a successful and the best year of my life at that point running. I was up for renegotiation so I ruined all that stuff because I was pregnant. I was mad at myself for getting pregnant and then I was mad at myself for being mad that I was mad…It took a while for me to be happy with being pregnant and being a mom. Honestly, I didn’t even tell Nike that I was pregnant. Somebody else caught me out. I was hiding it and somebody told. Then, they called me and asked, ‘Are you pregnant?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ … They didn’t put me down or anything like that. They kind of reassured me that things would be OK. They just said the things I think you’re supposed to say.

But what did happen was my contract was cut by like over 50% though because I didn’t make the Olympic team and I wasn’t ranked as high as I was supposed to be at the time…I didn’t even blame them at the time because I felt like it was something I did and my responsibility. At the end of the day, I was an athlete and I’m being paid to run so if I can’t do that, I have to take that burden and put it on myself. That’s how I thought back then. Now would I have appreciated some space to be a mom, go through that process, come back and still be a great athlete? Of course. It would’ve taken a lot of stress off me. It would’ve helped. I probably would’ve gotten back faster. Who knows!? You can never say what could’ve happened. At that time, I looked at it as if it was your choice so you deal with it as it comes.”

On watching the rise of Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin:

“I never knew or thought that girls would run 50-point in the hurdles…I always knew I could run 51 so when I seen them run 51, I thought, ‘Yeah I could’ve did that!’ 50 POINT THOUGH?!”

“It’s fun to see that it’s a premiere event now”

On the Russian Natalya Antyukh being stripped of her 2012 results, titles in a doping case:

“Ever since I became a professional athlete, there had always been whispers that this person is this, that person is that, that camp is that…That has always been around. That race in particular – no, I didn’t think that. She never beat me before that race. And then I looked at the time and it wasn’t a record-breaking time that she beat me by so I didn’t assume she was on anything I guess.”

“I was always someone to feel like. ‘I’m winning so if somebody is on something, they’re on that wack stuff because I’m still winning.’ I never worried about it because I was still winning!”

“That wasn’t on my mind at the time. I was injured running in that race anyway so I was more so worried about getting through. If I concerned myself with that, I would’ve driven myself crazy.”

“Was I shocked? No, because we know that people do it. 10 years later, am I happy? No. That took a lot of money away from me and a moment. My twin boys were at the Olympic Games with me at the time with my mom, my dad and my strength and conditioning coach. Family members came. Friends came to watch me. Nothing is going to replace not having that moment then. How do I feel about finding this out now? Like this. It does nothing for me. Am I going to change my title? Yes. Am I excited to win a gold medal like this? No.”

“I was at work, on-site doing my job and somebody texted me, ‘Congratulations.’ I’m like, ‘For what?’ ‘You’re the gold medalist now.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I hadn’t heard this news.’ I put my phone down and was back working. They texted me the article and I was like, ‘Oh this is serious!?’ Then I started getting messages from other people saying congratulations. I appreciate people being happy for me but it’s just hard for me to be wholeheartedly excited. I’m not excited. It is what it is.”

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