Preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is sprinter Carmelita “the Jet” Jeter. The Gardena native made a splash in the London Games, being a member of the 4x100m relay team that won gold and broke the world record for the event. Jeter became known as “the Fastest Woman Alive” after winning the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix and making 10.64 seconds her new personal record in 2009.
While training for Rio, Jeter took time to visit The Boys and Girls Club in Gardena last month. Along with encouraging children to eat healthy and facilitating activities, Jeter donated to The Boys and Girls Club.
“It was good to be back home,” Jeter said. “The kids were really curious about me and asking so many questions.”
For the London Olympics, the Jet practiced four days a week, her off days were on Wednesdays and the weekend. Jeter allowed herself one weekly “guilty meal” where she ate whatever she wanted.
The regiment of exercise and nutrition has been slightly altered for the 2016 Summer Olympics; Jeter noted how the body changes in a span of four years.
“Going into Rio, it’s a little different,” Jeter said. “I had to change a lot of things to where I’m eating all organic now.”
Jeter won silver for 100m and bronze for 200m in 2012, making her the first athlete to medal in both events in the same Olympic Games.
The 4x100m relay event was a moment of redemption for the women of team USA. The U.S. was disqualified for dropping the baton during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For London, Jeter ran anchor for the relay; Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, and Bianca Knight made up the squad.
The relay team’s chemistry and speed carried them beyond the world record of 41.37 seconds set in 1985 to 40.82 in the 4x100m final.
“We knew that we’re gonna do something amazing that day,” Jeter said. “It took all four of us to run 40.82, it wasn’t a relay that just one person won.”
In the moments leading up to the race, the team remained relaxed; they had claimed the win already, according to Jeter.
“When that gun clicked and Tianna Madison led off, I already knew it was over,” Jeter said. “She ran an amazing first leg and then she passed it to Allyson Felix, who ran an amazing second leg. And Bianca Knight ran the curve of her life and I just bought it home.”
Sprinting for Jeter started at the age of 14 while she attended Bishop Montgomery high school when her basketball coach recommended track and field to keep her in shape in the offseason. The independence is what the Jet liked about track and field.
“I loved running the relay,” Jeter said, recalling her high school years. “But, I enjoyed me running my individual races with my name in the paper instead of the girls basketball team.”
She did not consider attending California State University Dominguez Hills, but Jeter received a five-year scholarship to the university. Jeter donates to the Dominguez Hills track and field team annually.
“I ended up at Cal State Dominguez Hills, which was not my first choice,” Jeter said. “And it ended up being the best thing that could ever happen to me.”
Head coach, Warren Edmonson, was as concerned with his students earning their degrees as he was with them winning track meets and making history.
“Of course he wanted me to bring records to the school and run super, super fast,” Jeter said. “But it felt really good to know that someone actually loved you and wanted you to be better.”