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Demus Clears the Final Hurdle to a Great Career

by Brad Muller

Lashinda Demus is now getting what she deserved a long time ago. The former South Carolina (2002-2004) track and field All-American and National Champion will finally have an Olympic gold medal placed around her neck, a dozen years after she should have received it, this summer in Paris, France, in the first-ever Game’s Reallocation Ceremony.

“I’m excited,” said Demus, who is now officially recognized as the gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles from the 2012 London Olympics. Demus had originally taken the silver medal in the event, but two years ago, Russian hurdler Natalya Antyukh was stripped of the 2012 gold medal due to doping. “I’m excited to be a spectator once I get there. I haven’t been to an Olympic Games as a spectator.

“It will be the first trip to Europe for my youngest kids. It will be a great experience and a great family celebration that we can have. I have two little ones who weren’t able to see me in my prime and competing at the level I was. At least they will be able to see some of the accolades that came with me doing that. I’m excited to have this experience with my family.”

Demus now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jamel Mayrant, and four sons with 16-year-old twins Dontay and Duaine, five-year-old Syre, and four-year-old Sincere.

When she accepts the medal in Paris’ Champions Park on August 9 with the Eiffel Tower behind her, it will mark the first time that a reallocation ceremony has taken place at the Olympics.

“Once I found out that I was declared the gold medalist, it was already a part of my thought process that because this was an international competition where millions of people were watching me compete, why should we not be rewarded internationally as well,” said Demus, who originally wanted the International Olympic Committee to present the medals in Paris’ Olympic Stadium during the games, but due to event scheduling, the IOC and Demus worked together to hold the reallocation ceremony at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

“They gave me a couple of choices that did not include receiving anything at the Olympic Games. I sought out some legal help just in case, but there has been open communication from the IOC and USOC from day one. So, they did hear me, and they did want to make things right. I really appreciate that. I wanted to be sure it was settled internationally so that the world could acknowledge me as a gold medalist as well. I was offered to accept my medal at the U.S. Championships or even at the World Championships, but I just thought that nothing measures up to the Olympic Games and receiving a medal there.”

“Yes, my career is complete, but I don’t look at it as completing all the goals I had. It’s more like closure.”
Lashinda Demus  . 

Previous Olympic medal reallocations were not handled with as much pomp and circumstance as the athletes deserved, but times have changed for the better. New silver and bronze medalists, Zuzana Henjnova of the Czech Republic, and Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica, respectively, will also be honored. When Antyukh was officially stripped of the medal in 2022, it was Demus who was out in front to make sure that she and the other athletes from the event were properly honored.

“We will all be there!” Demus said. “We were all a part of this process. I had immediately reached out to both of them to let them know what I wanted to try to do. I’m happy that we will all be there.”

This will make Demus the first American woman to win the gold in the intermediate hurdles, and it is a testament to her work ethic and drive. In 2012, she was known as the “fastest mother in the world,” with her then five-year-old twins cheering for her at the Olympics.

While she is getting what she deserves for her efforts on the track, had she received the gold medal back in 2012, there likely would have been more endorsement opportunities for her at the peak of her career.

“I know for a fact that the earning potential would have skyrocketed,” Demus said. “It could have been in the millions. I have no doubt in my mind. The more that you live and the more that those games get further in the rearview mirror, you have to let go of the ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda.’ I would not have been able to move forward and start a new career if I stayed in that mindset of what could have happened and what I could have made. I had to let go of it.”

Demus hung up her running spikes in 2017, but she hasn’t slowed down. She works as a clinical research associate for IQVIA and also coaches track part time at Culver City High School in California.

“What I love about clinical research is that it is a goal driven career,” Demus said. “We have deadlines, and it’s very structured. I love that. I get to travel and work with different people in different states, and I can work from home and be with the kids when needed. It allows me to be who I want to be.”

Demus has been a champion at every level of her career. She was an 11-time All-American sprinter and hurdler, a two-time SEC Champion, and four-time NCAA Champion for the Gamecocks and a big reason South Carolina track and field won its first team national championship in any NCAA sport in 2002.

“It was such a huge developmental stage in my life as an athlete and as an adult,” Demus said of her time on campus. “I started my family there and was married there. Being a Gamecock and being part of the track team taught me a lot about surrounding yourself with champions and how it benefits you as a person, especially if you have big goals. It was a great championship environment.”

She went on to compete in the 2004 Olympics while still a student at South Carolina and then again in 2012. She is also a two-time World Champion, taking home titles in the 400-meter hurdles and 4×400 relay. She was inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022.

“I was thinking about South Carolina a few days ago,” Demus said. “I so miss things like (local restaurant chain) Lizard’s Thicket! It is the best fast food/soul food spot. It is so good! I would really love to bring a Lizard’s Thicket to the west coast!”

Lashinda Demus has always been a part of history at South Carolina and for U.S. Track and Field. Now owning an Olympic Gold, she is a part of corrected history, and in some ways her athletic career is now complete.

“It doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t cross the finish line first at the Olympic Games and get to do the victory lap,” Demus said. “Yes, my career is complete, but I don’t look at it as completing all the goals I had. It’s more like closure.”

Lashinda Demus