Carmelita Jeter is the fastest woman alive over the 100m with a time of 10.64 seconds. She currently holds a total of 4 Gold, 3 Silver and 4 Bronze Medals at Olympic and World Championships across the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay.
At London 2012, she became the first woman ever to win medals at the 100m, 200m and 4×100 relay in the same Games…and during that historic relay (in which the whole world doubted if Team USA could even get the baton round without dropping it), Carmelita stormed home to a World Record breaking time of 40.82. If you haven’t seen it – you should!
Since then, Carmelita has had a tough time with injuries after tearing her quadriceps in 2013 and missing out on the 2016 Rio Olympic Games once again through injury. But she has of course kept herself busy as a coach for her graduate school Cal State Dominguez Hills, as well as working with her agency Total Sports in delivering Speed Clinics and various coaching events.
During the IAAF World Athletics Championships this week in London, we spotted Carmelita coaching Murielle Ahoure, the 100m sprinter from the Ivory Coast who won two Silver Medals at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
This fantastic photo was taken by fellow USA athlete Dwight Phillips – which shows the pair just before the 100m semi-finals.
So this, of course, gave FCN Founder Vicky, the perfect excuse to get in touch with Carmelita, and speak with one of the greatest sprinters of all time…something which Vicky admittedly was very nervous to do!
“I have been a huge fan of Carmelita’s for such a long time and followed her career in detail! I even have a framed picture in the FCN office of that incredible moment when she crossed the line in that London 2012 relay! I have been in warm-up areas alongside her many times in the past, but to get the chance to interview her was a real highlight for me. A huge thank you to Carmelita for giving her time up to share her story with us all.”
Vicky spoke with Carmelita a few days after the women’s 100m final in which Murielle achieved her goal of reaching the final – and was 200th of a second off winning the bronze medal! Vicky wanted to know how it felt for the second fastest woman in history to be coaching instead of competing at a major Championships…
What was your experience like at the World Championships as a coach rather than an athlete? Has it been difficult to be on the other side of things and not competing?
I was more stressed out! I was more stressed being on the other side, because when you’re the athlete you are in control. You are the one who knows what you have to do, how you need to do it, how you need to execute it. But when you’re on the other side and you have to watch someone else – you don’t have any control – they have to do it on their own! I was like aaaaahhhhh!!! Haha I was very stressed out!
It was something new and something different and I enjoyed it and loved it so much. I loved watching Ahoure do the things I needed her to do and execute the way I needed her to execute. I did enjoy it, it was a different type of spirit in side of me, but I was definitely stressed out!
You had such an incredible Olympic Games back in 2012 on that very track – did it give you a bit of extra swagger walking around as a Coach knowing what you’ve achieved in that stadium?
I only went in the stadium one time and that was to see the 100m women’s final. London 2012 was a great experience for me, it was a great experience for Team USA, but being back in London representing Total Sports – the agency that I work with – and coaching Murielle, it wasn’t about me. That’s how I took it going into London 2017, it wasn’t about Carmelita, it wasn’t about the World Record and the three medals I received there, it was about Ahoure getting to that final. That was the only thing I cared about.
So tell us about how you got into coaching and how it came about to work with Murielle . . .
Last season I coached at the school I graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills which is a Division 2 school, which made me the first athlete to be an Olympian from that Division 2 school. For the past few years I have given 3 scholarships a year so that girls can attend the school. This last year I said ‘You know what, lets go back there and coach! Let me give me back!’ That is so much better than 3 scholarships I think.
So I went back and I coached and they had their first girl to run under 12 seconds in a very long time. I was extremely excited about that. And I thought ‘you know, this coaching thing might be my thing!’. I would come home everyday so excited and full of joy because I could see in their eyes how much they respected me. I could see how I would say anything and they would do it! That’s how I was with running, my coach told me what I could achieve and I believed it. And that’s what I did with the Cal State Dominguez girls, I made them believe in themselves.
When the season was over, I spoke to Total Sports who was my agency from 2007 – 2016 and told them I want to come back and I want to be the coordinator and manager for sprints and hurdles. I knew I could bring a different dynamic to the group. For the athletes whose coaches can’t come over [to the competition] I could do that and fill in and support them. They replied to me saying ‘You know, I think your right! Jump on board and do what you do!’
I went to NCAA’s and watched some of the new and upcoming athletes and then I went to USA’s [trials]. After the NCAA’s I signed my first athlete to Total Sports, her name is Aaliyah Brown she will actually be running the first leg on Team USA’s 4×100 relay at this weeks Champs!
She is from Texas A&M, I was in the back with her at the USA’s [trials] and I was just talking with her, feeding her…You know…my number one thing is; I am there to feed you. I am there to feed you that energy. I am there to feed you that belief. Everybody on that line is talented, but everybody doesn’t believe that they are talented. And that’s were my job comes in. If I believe something and I see something that you don’t see, I am gonna feed it to you.
When we signed Aaliyah Brown, she took 7th at NCAA at the 100m. After that, I fed her and I spoke to her everyday for 2 weeks going into the USA’s and she turned around and ran 11.01 seconds in the first round and took 5th overall in the finals!
I am a big believer that it’s all about the energy that you bring to the table. Now, she is on her first team and she is running first leg on the relay!
5 weeks ago Murielle decided to part ways with her coach and she called Total Sports (her agency also) and said ‘I don’t know what to do, I wanna go to the Worlds [London 2017] and represent my country the Ivory Coast, but so much has gone on this year (she lost her Dad 3 months ago to cancer)”. She has had a time! A rollercoaster!
Chris Layne who is the Managing Director of Total Sports spoke to her and said ‘I know you guys competed against each other, but Jet might be a good fit for you right now’. She was a little worried thinking ‘is this gonna work, are we gonna clash?’ Chris gave me her number and told me to give her a call.
So I called and said ‘hey, its Jet’…she said ‘Oh my gosh, I cannot believe I am talking to you on the phone!’. I said ‘come on, talk to me, tell me what’s going on and how can I help you?’ We talked for about 2 hours and I told her that my job now was to get her to make the final in London 2017. She hadn’t made a final since 2013. I told her that we needed to talk everyday.
It wasn’t possible for me to physically coach her everyday because I had some contracts for other things and it wasn’t possible for her to come to L.A to train with me because I was in and out of town. So me and one of her former coaches set out the workouts for 3 weeks, we worked out together. I didn’t really know Murielle, so I needed help in doing this. I will let someone know if I need help and because I didn’t know her as an athlete I didn’t want to sabotage anything, so I needed help. Me and the old coach who she was with when she won her first medal, me and him talked on the phone everyday before and after practice. And then I got on a plane and flew to London with her.
I told her that this was gonna be a fight, but one that I know that we can do what we have come to do and we have come to make this final – once you get into that final, everything is on you after that. But my job is to get you into this final.
I told her that I am not going to tell her anything that I don’t believe. I am not going to lie to you, I am not going to sugar coat anything to give you false confidence because you having false confidence is not going to help me. I told her we would make the final, and we did just that.
Her first final since 2013 – and we almost pulled it off dam it!! Hahah it was SO CLOSE!! [to a medal – Ahoure came 4th by 200th of a second!) But you know, this gives us fuel for next year. Of course we both would have loved to have been on the podium, but I told her that she already fought the odds by making the final and now we are going into 2018 with a whole different mind set.
Did you know that during these World Champs, and the Olympic and Diamond Leagues, that less than 10% of all the athletes have female coaches? What are your thoughts on that and why do you think the numbers are so low?
I noticed when I was in the back [warm up area] there was not a lot of women! Even when I competed I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of women coaches. It’s only a very small handful of women coaches out there and a very small handful of great women coaches!
I don’t know why…maybe some athletes after they are done competing, they just want to be a wife, or the homemaker, or just decide to go on a totally different path. Coaching is not for everybody, everyone cant do it. Just because you have run fast, doesn’t mean that you are able to translate what you know and how you feel to someone else. That’s male or female!! There is not a gender on that, that’s just fact!
I really hope and wish that more women would step up and coach. When Murielle ran the first heat of the 100m, I received over 5 emails from young women who were shocked saying ‘are you coaching! Can I come to LA and you coach me?’
I responded to each woman by saying ‘I am at the World Championships right now, I am extremely focussed, but I didn’t want you to think I was neglecting you or ignoring you. I will give you a ring when I am done doing what I have to do’. But I was so shocked and surprised that so many women were like ‘oh my gosh, there’s a woman coach! I need her.’
I wanted to ask your thoughts on the idea that European Athletics and the IAAF have about wiping all the world records and starting from scratch .. there is a lot of controversy surrounding the women’s 100m World Record achieved by Flo Jo and perhaps you should rightfully be the record holder?
It’s such a tricky a question! I do have so much respect for Flo Jo, I never got the chance to meet her. The reason I have so much respect, my honest answer, is that because when I ran 10.64 there was so many whispers and so many questions as to how I did it. So because of that, I never go against what somebody has done because I know how it feels when somebody questions your hard work.
Of course I would be so excited to be called the fastest women EVER, who wouldn’t! But you know I am sure they are going to do whatever is best for the sport. If I do become the fastest woman ever, I will become very excited!
What are the next steps for your own track career?
Well obviously we can tell that I’m not running hahaha!! I haven’t fully announced my retirement…I am still getting drugs tested, how about that! Haha…as a coach right!
What I am going to do is, I am going to go on vacation. I am a person that really sits and talks to myself and I follow my heart. I follow where my heart leads me and right now my heart is leading me to make someone else great. My heart is leading me to bring up more women, my heart is leading me to bring up another women to run 10.63.
So many people reach the top and never want to bring anyone else, they want to keep their status and keep their name at the top. I feel like I want to be that person who can bring someone else up to the top…they may surpass me – but hey, at least I am the person that helped them. That’s excitement for me! I would be more upset if someone else coaches someone to 10.63 and it wasn’t me dam it!! Hahaha I would be mad about that!
So right now I feel I know where my heart is pushing me and where my heart is taking me and where my energy is taking me. I see so many women and so many young girls that just don’t have the confidence to be great. Not that a man can’t coach a woman to do that, because John Smith (my coach) has proven that it can be done! But some women might need a woman to motivate them a little more.
What do you feel that you bring to the coaching table?
What I feel like I bring is what it feels like. I know what it feels like to be disappointed, I know how it feels to not to make that team, I know how it feels to just miss that medal…I know all of these things. I also know how it feels to run 10.6, I also know what it feels like to run a World Record, so I bring my experience, good and bad.
I also bring the experience of life – I am no perfect person, I have never been a perfect person, I have never portrayed to be a perfect person … so I bring the aspect of all of that – the greatness on the track, the failures in life, the pluses in life and I feel that’s what helped me relate to Ahoure and coach Ahoure.
It makes them relate to you a little better when they know you’re not walking around here as if you are a perfect angel or the God of Gods…I am walking around here just as flawed as you. So lets do this together.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to achieve their ultimate dream .. whether that be on or off the track?
My number one advice would be, you have to learn from all mistakes. You have to learn from all good things. There is a lesson in everything that you do. You have to keep yourself accountable, you cant always blame the next person. You have to be willing to look in the mirror and say ‘I screwed up!’. If you’re an athlete that cannot do that, you will never EVER be great.