June 5, 2002
Columbia, SC – University of South Carolina freshman Lashinda Demus has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after setting a world junior record of 54.85 seconds in the 400m hurdles on Friday at the NCAA Division I Championships. In addition to her win in the hurdles, Demus ran the anchor leg on South Carolina’s winning 4x400m relay, which set an American collegiate record with a time of 3:26.46. She also finished third in the 400m, leading South Carolina to the women’s team title. It was South Carolina’s first-ever NCAA title in any sport.
“I am surprised I was chosen Athlete of the Week, but I did run everyday of the week and I am glad they noticed I worked hard,” said Demus, the SEC Indoor Freshman of the Year. “Everybody on our team help put up the points we scored. My entire team was really the Athlete of the Week – the entire Gamecock track and field team, but I honored they selected me. Rickey Harris is a good friend of mine and he deserves this award as does Serene Ross. It’s a task trying to get there to the NCAA meet. It takes a lot of hard work.”
“This is a tremendous honor for Lashinda. One that is well deserved,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye, who earlier in the week was named the National Women’s Coahc of the Year. “Lashinda is an extordinary athlete and her performances all season long, indoors and outdoors, have proven that. She has room for improvement with her goals set very high, an Olympic medal, so I expect her to continue to work hard. Lashinda said her team was the Athlete of the Week and I agree. They all worked together for a common goal – to win the NCAA title – and they accomplished it.”
Demus will join a number of teammates in June 19-22 at the USA Junior and USA National Championships at Stanford, Calif.
Demus’ was not the only impressive performance at the NCAA Championships. Serene Ross of Purdue threw an American record of 195-8 (59.64m) in the women’s javelin, Florida sophomore Rickey Harris won the men’s 400m hurdles in a U.S.-leading 48.16, and Sam Burley’s won the 800m in a U.S.-leading time of 1:45.39.
American athletes turned in top performances at events around the world last week. Kevin McMahon’s hammer throw of 249-0 (75.90) in Sacramento, Calif., is the best by an American this year. Decathlete Tom Pappas racked up 8,583 points in Gotzia, Austria, which is the best by an American this year. The point total was a personal best for Pappas, who was fifth at the 2000 Olympics. Shelia Burrell is now the world leader in the women’s heptathlon after scoring 6,363 points in winning at Gotzia.
Now in its second year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF Web site. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2002 USATF Athlete of the Week winners: January 3, Jim Garcia; January 8, Mary Louise Michelsohn; January 15, Tamara Diles; January 22, Miguel Pate; January 29, Regina Jacobs; February 5, Jeff Hartwig; February 12, Meb Keflezighi; February 19, Curt Clausen; February 26, Jeff Hartwig; March 5, Nicole Teter; March 12, Jeff Hartwig; March 19, Aretha Hill; March 26, Deena Drossin; April 2, Kim Fitchen; April 9, Deena Drossin; April 16, Khalid Khannouchi; April 23, Kenta Bell; April 30, Suzy Powell; May 7, Deena Drossin; May 14, Savante Stringfellow; May 21, Adam Nelson; May 28, Kevin Toth; June 4, Lashinda Demus.