5 life lessons from the fastest woman in the world, Carmelita Jeter

Photo credit: Carmelita Jeter
Photo courtesy of Carmelita Jeter

It didn’t take a miracle for sprinter Carmelita Jeter to become a three-time Olympic medalist. But it was a matter of applying the right rules.

Before taking the 2012 Olympics by storm winning three medals, and before she became “the fastest woman in the world” by winning the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix 100-meter race in 10.64 seconds, Jeter was a teen who moved fast on her high school basketball team. Her coach convinced her to take a shot at track and field, and she’s been racing ever since. Throughout her journey training hard and winning competitions, the 36-year-old had endured many trials that almost pushed her to the point of hanging up her running shoes, including ageism and career-threatening injuries. But she applied a few vital lessons that kept her from quitting. In fact, these tips can be applied to not just track, but any aspect of life.

Jeter took a break from preparing to qualify for the 2016 Olympic team to give us some insight on what she did to become a history-making champ. Here are five profound lessons Jeter’s journey in track can teach us about life.

Do what you love.

Jeter realized early on that she had a love for track that made it easy for her to keep at it.

“I loved the individuality of the sport, and that you take all the credit or all the blame,” Jeter said. “That’s what made me stick with track and field.”

Set goals.

Throughout her amazing career, Jeter has steadily improved every year. She credits her improvements to constantly setting goals and anticipating crossing them off her list.

“I love to cross off goals,” she reveals. “Every night, before I go to sleep, I write down my to-do list for the next day. I just set my goals and cross them off each year, one-by-one.”

Photo credit: Carmelita Jeter
Photo courtesy of Carmelita Jeter

Work hard.

The Olympian says that the key to success when training is hard work and “no cutting corners.” Her take on the art of working hard can pretty much be applied to most facets of life.

“My motto is, ‘hard work beats talent any day.’ I don’t care how tired you are — if you don’t put the work in, the person who has no business beating you, so you think, will be the same person who will beat you,” the athlete explains.

Sacrifice for what you want.

Jeter says that when focusing on accomplishing a goal, hard work has to be coupled with sacrifice.

“You have to sacrifice,” Jeter advises. “If you have a track meet on Saturday, then guess what? You can’t go out on Friday night. So it’s a lot of hard work and sacrificing. If you are willing to do those two things, that’s what makes a great athlete. You have to be willing to sacrifice to be great. You have to be willing to lose friends, you have to be willing to basically find out who your real friends are.”

Know that there are no limits.

The track industry was critical of Jeter’s age when she tried out for the 2012 Olympics team, not believing that someone who was in her 30s would be in adequate shape to successfully compete. But she didn’t allow anyone else to put limits on what she could or couldn’t do. She ultimately proved everyone wrong.

“All of my races in the Olympics meant a lot to me, because I was a 32 year old that was told that I was too old to make the Olympic team,” she explains. “I love defying the odds. I love doing what they say is impossible, and I did all of that in the 2012 Olympics. Not only did I win three medals, but I also broke a world record. I love not having limits. I want to set examples to let people know that there are no limits. I want to be that person to show people that age doesn’t matter.”

Following all of these life lessons is what made Jeter the champion she is today. The speedy Olympian says she wants to be remembered as a “fighter” and “the people’s champ,” and though her career isn’t over yet, she’s already more than qualified to hold those titles.

Kacie Whaley
Kacie Whaley

I'm a writer and philosopher.

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