London Olympics: Heavy metal makes Carmelita Jeter’s burden lighter
It might sound strange, but putting a hefty silver medal around her neck has made Carmelita Jeter feel lighter.
Jeter, who lives in Gardena and graduated from Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance and Cal State Dominguez Hills, was second to Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100-meter dash Saturday with a time of 10.78 seconds, three-hundredths of a second behind the winner. That success has allowed Jeter (pronounced “Jetter”) to approach the 200 with no tension, and she got off to a good start on Monday when she won her first-round heat in an easy 10.65 seconds.
She has always liked the 100, the distance at which she won the world championship last year and the Olympic trials this year, but she’s finding that the 200 suits her too. Jeter, the world silver medalist in the 200 last year, advanced to the finals by finishing second in her semifinal heat Tuesday with a time of 22.39 second.
“I feel like I’m a little more relaxed because I do have my first Olympic medal now,” she said by phone Tuesday morning. “I just feel a little bit more relaxed and calm.”
She always favored the 100 over the 200 and would laugh when one of her closest cousins, Bridgette Horton, told her the 200 might be a better fit.
“I love the 100. I’ve been running the 100 for years,” Jeter said. “But I haven’t had a personal best in the 100 for a while.
“Bridgette would always say, ‘I’m telling you, your best event is the 200.’ She said that when I was in high school. I’m sure she’s sitting and smirking now.”
Jeter, 32, was the first Olympian developed at Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills. “I always tell people who think you have to go to a big school with a big program that you just have to go to a school with a great coach,” said Jeter, who was coached by Warren Edmonson. “You can go to a huge school and not produce and get caught and not progress. It doesn’t matter which school you go to as long as you put the work in and you get the right coaching.”
Coaching at her old high school was Jeter’s backup plan in case a professional track career didn’t work out. And she actually worked there in a variety of roles. “I had all these hats,” she said. “I wasn’t in position to actually teach so the assistant athletic director would find other jobs for me.”
Jeter could leave London with medals in the 200 and the 400 relay, in addition to her silver in the 100. That would be quite a haul, but she’s not stressing over adding to her collection.
“I’m just content and I’m going out to do my own thing,” she said. “I have my silver medal in the bag. If I’m under the radar, that’s great.
“In the 100 I ran with every piece of emotion I had. When I coached at Bishop Montgomery I told the kids, ‘Leave it all on the track.’ That’s exactly the thing I’m going to do.”
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