Prior to 2011, Lashinda Demus had been No. 1 in the world in the 400-meter hurdle rankings. She’d posted world-leading times and won U.S. titles. But she hadn’t won a World championship. That all changed in Daegu, as Demus won the World Championship gold in a personal best and U.S. record 52.47 seconds, defeating defending champion Melaine Walker by a quarter of a second.
Mother Knows Best:
Demus was virtually born to be a track and field star. Her mother Yolanda, formerly a college quarter-miler, first brought a 2-year-old Lashinda to the track. Yolanda coached her daughter from age 5 until she entered high school in Long Beach, Calif. Demus began competing in the hurdles at age 9. In 2008, Lashinda - along with her husband and two children - moved from South Carolina back to California, in part so her mom could coach her again.
After being ranked No. 1 in the world in 2006, Demus struggled mentally and physically to regain her spot after giving birth to twin boys in June 2007. The 5-foot-7 Demus gained 50 pounds, to 180, while pregnant. Her mother Yolanda encouraged Lashinda to begin walking three weeks after giving birth, then to start jogging one week later. Lashinda moved on to drills, plus cardiovascular and strength training, six weeks after delivery. But according to her website, Demus also “struggled with post partum, depression” for about a year. She eventually qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, but finished fourth, missing out on a trip to Beijing. It was after this disappointment that Demus moved back to California.
Demus won her first U.S. Junior championship in 1999. As a high school senior in 2001, Demus set a U.S. high school record in the 300-meter hurdles. She won the World Junior championship in 2002 and earned five NCAA championships at the University of South Carolina. Demus stumbled near the end of her race at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials but rallied to finish third and make the American team, although she didn’t reach the final in Athens. Since then she’s generally been considered the top 400-meter hurdler in the U.S., except for her maternity and recovery periods.
Demus gained silver medals at the 2005 and 2009 World Outdoor Championships, posting personal best times on both occasions. She ran 53.27 in 2005 and 52.96 in Berlin, where she lost to Melaine Walker’s 52.42, the second-fastest 400 hurdles time ever. Demus did earn a gold in 2009 as part of the victorious American 4 x 400-meter relay squad. She also won four Diamond League races in 2010-11.
- Height: 5-7
- Weight: 136 pounds
- Birth date: March 10, 1983
- Hometown: Inglewood, Calif.
- Personal best: 52.47