Track and Field Champion Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter is a force to be reckoned with. Known as The Fastest Woman Alive, Jeter is the top American sprinter with three Olympic medals and a world record. In 2007, Carmelita earned her first medal in the 100m race at the 2007 World Championships and won a silver medal at the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships that same year.
At the 2009 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, Carmelita became the second fastest woman in history, finishing the 100m race with a record-breaking time of 10.64—making her known as “The Fastest Woman Alive.” That time was previously beaten by Florence Griffith Joyner who passed away in 1998.
EGL had the opportunity to sit down with the Olympic star to discuss life as an Olympian, her great philanthropic work in the community, and what life is like after the track.
EGL: Tell us how your career began in Track & Field because we learned that you originally started in basketball. Is that true?
Carmelita Jeter: Well, it started from my basketball coach. I played basketball, and I was pretty fast on the court and track definitely wasn’t something that I didn’t want to do. [My coach] felt it would be a great way to stay in shape. Everything happens for a reason, and I ended up beginning on the Varsity team as a freshman and it just fit. A lot of times basketball is a team sport. You have to share the plays and share the disappoints, but one thing I love about track and field is that it’s just me, myself and I.
EGL: So how does it feel to be known as the Fastest Woman Alive and what do you do to try to maintain that title?
Carmelita Jeter: I became the Fastest Woman Alive in 2009. There is someone who has ran faster than me, and that was the late great Flo Jo. I’m the only woman to have ran second fastest ever. Being the fastest woman alive is great. It’s amazing. I’m no longer running track and field. I’m actually coaching and I’m a manager at Total Sports for sprints and hurdles, so now I get to give all of my expertise, all of my knowledge and savagery [laughs] to the new generation. I’m actually loving and enjoying it. I’m able to teach someone else, and I want to coach someone to run faster than me.
EGL: What drives your spark and passion every day to keep slaying and accomplishing your goals?
Carmelita Jeter: We all have dreams and goals. My dream and No. 1 goal is to create a better Carmelita Jeter. I look at myself and my career and there are some things that I could’ve done better. I could’ve done different, but you learn and you learn. Now that I’m managing and coaching, my mindset is to give that energy and that knowledge…to someone who I’m coaching. My goals are to dominate track and field, but to dominate track and field in a whole other light. Not being the athlete, but being the coach, being the manager and giving my Team Jet [a group of athletes] energy.
EGL: Love that team name! We learned that you partnered with Nike Footwear to pay homage to your Aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tell us more.
Carmeltia Jeter: In 2009, my Aunt Brenda Washington was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I wanted to do something special. Special in my eyes was to work with Nike, who was my sponsor from 2007 to 2016, and create a shoe to represent her, represent me, represent Nike and represent the cause of fighting breast cancer. So, we picked the color pink and all of my shoes were hot pink. But when I lined up, I lined up not only for my aunt, but for everyone who is still fighting for the cause. I was the only one who wore the pink spikes for a long time until Nike started getting calls about it, and then they ended up making pink spikes as a shoe to sell for everyone. But I was honored I was the first to wear the pink spikes and run for everyone.
Carmelita also mentioned during the interview that she’s an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen initiative for African American women and is also involved in several other organizations, including STEP UP which is a mentoring group for young girls.
EGL: We’re in an era of Black Girl Magic. What do you define as Black Girl Magic and what advice can you give to young girls and women on creating their own magic?
Carmelita Jeter: I believe Black Girl Magic is owning everything about you. Pushing yourself to the limit and not only pushing yourself to the limit, but reaching your hand down and grabbing someone else’s or standing side-by-side by another [black girl] and making things happen. In my eyes, the whole objective of Black Girl Magic is for all of us to win and that’s what I believe black girl magic is. Owning what you do, loving what you do, cheerleading not only for yourself but for other girls and that’s what I live by. I want all of us to win. Just own your magic.
For information and up-to-date projects Carmelita is working on, you can go to www.carmelitajeter.com or follow her on social media @carmelitajeter on Twitter and @jetg5 on Instagram.
Written By: Tiffany Hercules