Home Sports Lashinda Demus will get her Olympic gold medal … 12 years later

Lashinda Demus will get her Olympic gold medal … 12 years later

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-PHOTO TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA- Russian Natalya Antyukh (top) wins the women's 400 meters hurdles final ahead of American Lashinda Demus in the athletics event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 8, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should go to FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/GettyImages)

Russia’s Natalya Antyukh finished first in the women’s 400m hurdles final at the 2012 Olympics, but the gold medal will now go to Lashinda Demus. (François Xavier Marit/AFP/GettyImages)

Lashinda Demus needed just 52.77 seconds to complete the 400-meter hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics.

The American’s wait to receive the gold medal she rightfully earned has lasted more than 4,300 days.

It took more than a decade for Russian hurdler Natalya Antyukh’s Olympic victory to be disqualified due to doping tests. It took another four months for Demus to formally promote to first place from second. And it has taken Demus a year-long fight to secure the right to have the gold medal placed around his neck on the Olympic stage.

Demus announced Wednesday that the International Olympic Committee plans to award medals to her and the legitimate silver and bronze medalists during a ceremony Aug. 9 at Champions Park in Paris, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It will be the first medal reallocation ceremony ever held at a Summer Olympic Games.

“I think they’re making it as close to reality as possible,” Demus said. “I can’t do a victory lap in the stadium, or get on the podium, or go on the ‘Today Show’ after winning the medal, all of that. But I think they did the best job they could and I appreciate that. “I can resolve my feelings with that.”

Before compatriots Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin redefined what was possible in the 400-meter hurdles, Demus was once the event’s standard-bearer. She broke high school records and junior world records. She won a trophy case full of gold medals at the world, NCAA and U.S. championships. In 2012, the only achievement that still eluded her was Olympic gold.

In 2004, he achieved the fifth-fastest time in the Olympic semi-finals, but did not advance to the final. In 2008, she missed the Olympics entirely and finished one spot short of qualifying at the US Trials, just over a year after giving birth to twins.

For Demus, then 29, the London Olympics represented his last realistic hope. She overcame the lingering pain of a torn right hamstring to reach the Olympic final, setting up a showdown between herself and Antyukh, a former Olympic bronze medalist in the open 400 meters and the world’s fastest in the 400 hurdles. this year.

Antyukh opened a gap on Demus late in the race before stuttering as he approached the final hurdle. That gave Demus the opportunity he needed to get back into contention. The American almost matched Antyukh at the finish line, but the Russian held on and won by seven-hundredths of a second.

Lashinda Demus of the United States reacts after competing in the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the London 2012 Olympic Games athletics event on August 8, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages)

Lashinda Demus reacts after finishing second in the women’s 400 meters hurdles final at the 2012 Olympic Games. (Olivier Morin/AFP/GettyImages)

For Demus, finishing second was “devastating.” His silver medal was little more than a consolation prize. She crouched on the track, shocked and distraught, as the Russian she had left behind in the past draped his country’s flag over her shoulders and celebrated his victory.

“I kind of knew it might be the last Olympics I’m in,” Demus said. “That was in the back of my mind. And then I knew I was the best in that race. I literally had no doubt. So I felt like he should have been able to be ready for that race even though he was injured coming in.”

In a post-race interview that night with NBC’s Lewis Johnson, Demus defiantly promised, “I won’t stop until I get the gold medal. You will see me in 2016.”

It was an admirable goal but too great an obstacle. In 2016, Demus was no longer looking track, much less compete. Walking away from the sport was the only way she felt she could overcome the pain of her 2012 loss and move on, raising her children and embarking on a career in clinical research.

By October 2022, Demus had re-immersed herself in the sport as a part-time track coach at a high school in the Los Angeles area. She was practicing when a friend texted her that Antyukh’s Athletics Integrity Unit disqualified her results and that Demus was in line for her silver medal to be converted to gold.

For some athletes, that might have been a moment of joy. For Demus, it was like reopening a painful wound.

“That loss for me was incredibly hard,” he said. “It took a lot of coping strategies and different strategies to get over it and move on. So I felt a little indifferent when I heard the news.”

The only aspect that Demus was excited about was the prospect of receiving his medal in front of his friends and family on the Olympic stage. That is why she was not happy in March 2023, when the Paris Olympics were not among the options that the IOC initially gave her for a medal ceremony.

“I say no, no, no,” Demus recalled. “I want media. I want coverage. I want all my followers to be able to celebrate with me. “I want this to be something on an international level.”

Instead of sending her silver medal to the IOC as requested, Demus hired a lawyer and contacted the rightful 2012 silver and bronze medalists, Zuzana Henjnova of the Czech Republic and Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica. Together they stood firm until the IOC agreed to find a way to honor each of them with a medal ceremony during the Paris Olympics.

It was important for Demus to take a stand because he had seen other athletes’ late medals handed out quietly and without enough pomp and circumstance. Britain’s Andrew Steele learned that he had become an Olympic medalist in 2016. while looking for novelty t-shirts inside an Urban Outfitters in New York. American thrower Adam Nelson received his shot put gold medal in 2004, nine years later. Outside a Burger King at the Atlanta airport.

“I want to be a trailblazer for these athletes in this process,” Demus said. “I think (the IOC) knows it’s important, but I don’t think they can understand how important it is for each Olympic athlete individually.”

Since the IOC and USOPC are only partially funding Demus and her family’s trip to Paris, she has initiated a GoFundMe to raise money for airfare, meals, hotel rooms and tickets to the Olympics. Demus hopes to take her husband, her four children, her parents and even her 90-year-old grandmother.

Demus sheepishly admits that for 12 years he has kept his Olympic silver medal hidden in a basket inside a closet in his home. He has bigger plans for her gold medal once he finally receives it in August.

Said Demus laughing, “My mom will have it at her house and it will be on display.”

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