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July 8, 2002

Columbia, SC – South Carolina’s rising sophomore Lashinda Demus is headed to Jamaica to the World Junior Championships with her own World Junior record, set at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400m hurdles. What’s next for the SEC Athlete of the Year? She won’t be alone as she heads to the World Juniors with USC teammates Tiffany Ross and Jon Fortenberry. Gamecock signees Bershawn Jackson and Kenneth Ferguson will also compete at the World Junior meet.

Demus, Fortenberry and Ross leave for Miami on Wednes., July 10 to train and will then travels with Team USA for a meet in the Bahamas on Friday, July 12 and Sat., July 13. The team then travels to Jamaica on Sun., July 14 with the World Junior Championships running from July 16-21 in Kingston.

It’s Demus’ third turn in the red, white and blue. She ran the 400m hurdles at the World University Games in China last September, but did not make the finals. She won the 400m hurdles and was on a leg of the gold medal winning 4x400m relay at the Pan Am Junior Championships in Florida in 1999.

Demus sat down with USC to talk about the World Junior Championships on Monday.

What are your expectations for the World Junior Championships? You currently have the fastest time in the USA and the fourth fastest time in the world. To come out with a PR in my event. I want to also have a good time and meet a lot of different people. I also want to run well with the relay. I am looking forward to that!

I wanted to make the World Junior team because it’s my last year to compete at this level. I have never been to Jamaica so I am excited to got there as well.

Do you talk about times or just prs? I just think I want to run faster than 54.8. I do think about that time, but not a specific time. Never. I will take what I get.

What advice have other people given you about competing at the World Juniors? Make it through the rounds safely. Coach Frye says to just go out there and roll. If you run well, that’s all that matters.

Is there added pressure because you already have a World Junior record? No. The only reason I remember I have it is because everybody keeps reminding me. I just get out there and run. I don’t think about what I did, I just think about what I have to do right then and there.

Do you know many of your competitors? No. I am not good with names. It will be fun. I know one of my competetors real well – Tiffany Ross – my teammate in Columbia. We have known each other for a year so that will help. Even if she was or wasn’t there, it woudl feel like any other meet. I don’t look at meets as ‘This is Nationals’. I know it’s a big meet, but I don’t let it scare me. You get a bit of nervousness but I don’t let it effect my rounds.

In 2002, you were named Track and Field News Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year. SEC Outdoor Athlete of the Year. SEC Freshman of the Year. Set a world junior record and also set an NCAA and collegiate record with the relay. Are you surprised by your success this year? Yes, I am surprised. I didn’t feel like I was ready to run the times I’ve run this year. But now that I have accomplished that, I look forward to next year. I didn’t get all the training I wanted to this year, I had a long season, so I look forward to next year.

The awards are nice, but it makes me want to improve for my sophomore year. I would hate to have those honors this year and then not improve next year. It makes me want to work harder in the next few years.

What were you expecting? Goals? I thought it would be good for a freshman to make finals at the NCAAs. With everything, my main goal is to run faster each year. That’s my goal.

What are your plans next year to make sure you continue to improve? My training this fall will be very important. I didn’t train hard after I got back from China last fall, so this year will be important. I think I will improve on my times because I look forward to a better fall of training.

Will you get to go home to California this summer? I am going home after Jamaica for a couple of weeks. I won’t do any running and then I will start over at the beginning of September.

What did you learn this year? I learned study habits. I learned how to use study habits. You have to take time out to study. College is totally different than high school.

I had a good time. Good experience.