News13 Sep 2009

Jeter’s rise continues, all the way to 10.67! - IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final


Carmelita Jeter celebrates her 10.64 victory in the women's 100m (© Getty Images)

Thessaloniki, GreeceCarmelita Jeter was arguably the most impressive winner as action concluded on day two at the final edition of the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final here in Thessaloniki.

The American champion who at 29 years of age has experienced the strongest season of her career improved to a mind blogging 10.67, the third fastest of all time and the fastest 100m clocking in no fewer than 12 years!

Jeter won her second WAF title in superb fashion defeating the two women who had preceded her in the World Championships final last month.

Drawn in lane four with World and Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser on her outside, Jeter stormed out of the blocks leaving Fraser, the woman who has a blistering start as her worldwide known trademark in her wake. To see Jeter ahead of Fraser from the start was something we certainly didn’t expect.

Jeter picked up from her fantastic start executing a near-to-perfection transition phase which saw her well in the lead as early as 30 metres into the race. Lifting her knees high and working hard on her arm movement, the Osaka World bronze medallist was extremely impressive once she reached her cruising speed at 60 metres, carrying her momentum all the way through the finish line and beyond.

She quickly looked to her left where Fraser and World silver medallist Kerron Stewart were neck and neck for a distant second before crossing the line and looking to the clock that read 10.68 – later rounded down by one hundredth.

It took Jeter some time to actually resume her poise as she knelt down in disbelief, got back up and put her hands to her mouth, knelt down again and shed a tear at the realisation of her performance.

“When I saw the clock, I was in shock and in tears,” she revealed. “When I got into the race and the gun went off I didn’t think; I just ran to the line. Everything felt slow and when my coach says that it feels slow it’s actually fast. So when I saw the clock I could not believe it because I felt like I was running 10.9.”

Although surprised at her clocking Jeter admitted she had those figures in the back of her mind coming into tonight’s race and even a little more than just in the back of her mind…

“When I was at the warm up track I actually told Sanya Richards that it would be nice to skip the .7 and do a straight .6!”

The Los Angeles based athlete who is coached since last November by John Smith at UCLA improved by three tenths in one year; after her bronze medal performance in Berlin she has been undefeated scoring convincing wins in Zurich, Gateshead and Brussels.

After graduating in physical education at Cal State Dominguez Hills in the Los Angeles Area in 2004, Jeter had a couple of injury plagued seasons before a 2006 summer which she described as “a little better”. 2007 saw her storming to the forefront when she clocked 11.04 to finish fourth at the adidas Track classic meeting before qualifying for her first IAAF World Championships and winning the first of two consecutive World bronze medals.

She ended 2007 with an 11.02 personal best to finish in eighth position on that year’s World season’s lists.

The following season saw her improving to 10.97 but failing to make the team for the Beijing Olympic Games. A clear favourite for one of three qualifying spots, Jeter failed to even make it to the final at the US Olympic Trials.

In 2008, she was seen running regularly on the one-day circuit albeit never as convincingly as she would be in 2009. That marked the beginning of a new journey for Jeter who went on to seek the coaching assistance of sprint guru John Smith.

“With all these women running so fast I wanted to get one of the best coaches in the world,” Jeter explained after her WAF win here in Thessaloniki. “He’s coached Maurice Greene, Ato Bolton, Torri Edwards. To be the best you have to train with the best.

“We sat down and talked with my agent Mark Block and we decided that was the way to go.

“Ever since the first day of practice on 10 November I knew I was going to run fast although it was very frustrating at times because he changed everything in my running.

“It’s been a learning process, up until now I have been learning all season; he has been teaching me bits and pieces, bits and pieces, bits and pieces…

“It’s been a great move; I am enjoying every bit of it I am happy to run.

“It’s definitely been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Smith was himself in attendance as Jeter was addressing the press after her stunning performance but the former Olympian would only comment on his protégé’s performance as “shocking”.

“We set goals this year,” Jeter elaborated about her and her coach’s plans. “Our goals this year were to run fast, make the team and win a medal. My coach said I would achieve all of these and I have done.

“As a coach, he’s tough in tough as he wants you to be the best.

“I have worked hard; I have put my heart and soul in track and field this year.”

Jeter was one of the favourites for gold at the World Championships in Berlin especially after her 10.83 convincing personal best in winning her semi final but her 10.90 coming from behind third place in the final was completely overshadowed by the Jamaicans’ “fight” for gold over a tenth of a second faster.

“I don’t live on should have beens and should have dones,” Jeter commented on her Berlin performance. “Those two women ran a great race and they beat me so all credit to them. They did what they had to do and for me, unfortunately I did not do the things I should have done.

“I’m not going to say that if I had gone out of the blocks I would have won because I may well have gone out well and still come third.

“I move forward. I make sure that doesn’t happen again, I work hard on my start. I’m not one to dwell in the past because if you do then you get stuck in the past.”

Jeter admits her first approach to sport was actually through basket ball, a sport which has seen her brother Eugene excel internationally. A guard playing for the Vive Menorca Club in the Spanish League, Eugene goes by the nickname Pooh for his alleged resemblance to Disney character Winnie the Pooh.

“I lived in a basketball household. I didn’t start track before the 9th grade. I didn’t know anything about track, I just wanted to be like my brothers and play basketball.

“It was actually my basketball coach who told me to have a go. I ran 11.7 in my first ever track meet and that was it…”

Jeter also mentions her 12-year-old sister Kishana as one to keep an eye on in the sporting domain. “She runs 100, 200 and 400 metres…”

After such a stunning performance, Jeter is convinced more than ever that a faster time is in her chords and she will return for even greater performances in the future. She is already thinking on ways to improve.

“I feel strong from around the 60 metres, when I pick my knees up and I bounce off the track. The finish has always been the best part of my race so now we will be working on the first 30 metres and the transition phase.

“I’m always eager to get to run my middle part as that is where I feel more comfortable, we’ll now work on getting me comfortable on the opening part of the race.

There will be more to come from Jeter who will compete in Shanghai and Daegu before flying back home on September 26th.

“I am not gonna go out to improve, I’ll go out to do what I’m supposed to be doing, I’m not chasing a time.

“My main objective is actually to go home healthy,” she concludes with probably one of the wider smiles of the weekend.

A perfect way to end the seven-year-old history of the World Athletics Final.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF

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