Lashinda DemusDemus breaks first World Junior Record in Kingston

19 July 2002 - South Carolina’s Lashinda Demus already knew what breaking a world record feels like. Indeed she set the best ever World Junior mark at 400m hurdles at the NCAA championships earlier this year.

Her time of 54.85 was by far the best of tonight’s competitors but as for every hurdle race, the race is never won until the last barrier is cleared.

And Demus, who hadn’t seemed the best of hurdlers in the heats, proved that she was a tremendous competitor tonight and clocked a new World Junior Record time of 54.70.

“This is just fantastic. It feels so good. Coming in these Championships I wanted to break the world record. No matter how I would better it I just wanted to do it. And to tell you the truth 54.70 is exactly the time I had hoped for. I had set myself a reachable goal, not too far from my pb but still an excellent time.”

And it seemed as thought tonight was the perfect night for Demus. Only, maybe, her compatriot’s fourth place spoiled the big day.

“We wanted to make it a gold and silver but Tiffany (Ross) couldn’t beat the Jamaicans,” explained Demus.

Ross was fourth behind Jamaicans Melanie Walker (56.03) and Camille Robinson (56.14).

“The atmosphere tonight was just electrifying. The crowd was supporting the Jamaicans so much that it kind of boosted me too. I could hear them so loud even before we stood behind the blocks.”

A pure hurdler, Demus trains at the University of South Carolina under the guidance of Coach Curtis Frye who led Allen Johnson to World and Olympic honours.

“Coach Frye just told me to be relaxed and stay focused. And this is what I did. I think I made the difference at the seventh hurdle. I felt very strong at that point of the race and the home straight just felt like as if I was flying.”

As every technical running event, pace and stride are essential and Demus clearly knew what she was doing. Jumping all the hurdles with the same leg in an event where athletes usually need to use both legs, she knows she has a great margin of progression.

“I do not alternate legs because I am not used to it yet. I therefore need to adjust my stride pattern. I reduce the length of my strides coming up to each hurdle so that I can clear them with my favourite leg.”

Only just 19, Demus knows that the future holds great things for her. “I know that the day I learn to alternate I will improve dramatically but just not yet. I need to work on this.”

“I feel a bit of fatigue in my legs just now,” said Demus shortly after setting her world record. “The heats have been very demanding yesterday and I am kind of starting to feel tired.”

But Demus has still an important race in her schedule. Together with her friends Ross, Richards and Henderson she will line-up for what could well be her second world record of the championships.

The opinions and content of this article are those of the author and are not attributable to the IAAF, nor do they reflect or represent any official position of the International Association of Athletics Federations.