US Hurdler Negotiated Deal to Get Long-Denied Gold in Paris

Lashinda Demus lost in the 2012 Games to Russian Natalya Antyukh, who had been doping
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2024 7:59 AM CDT
US Hurdler Negotiated Deal to Get Long-Denied Gold in Paris
Russia's Natalya Antyukh, middle, holds the gold medal, United States' Lashinda Demus, left, the silver medal, and Czech Republic's Zuzana Hejnova the bronze medal during a ceremony for the women's 400 hurdles in the Olympic Stadium at the Summer Olympics in London, Aug. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, FIle)

There's no making up for what Olympic hurdler Lashinda Demus lost on the day she finished .07 seconds behind a Russian opponent who, everyone found out later, was doping. What the American 400-meter hurdles champion will get is a great day under the Eiffel Tower on Aug. 9, where she'll be presented with the gold medal she was denied 12 years ago at the London Olympics. Demus, now 41 and the mother of four boys, said so much time had passed that she wasn't all that excited when she learned last year that the medal first captured by Natalya Antyukh would go to her.

"But one thing I did know was that I was on an international stage," Demus said. "And whatever happens, I wanted to receive this upgrade on an international stage." With the help of a lawyer and the determination not to take the IOC's first offer—normally a presentation at a national or world championship—Demus negotiated a deal to receive the medal at the Paris Olympics, at the Champions Park in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. This will mark the first time the IOC has held a "reallocation" ceremony at a Summer Games, reports the AP.

Demus estimates she lost in the seven figures when it came to what she could have made had she returned home in 2012 as a gold medalist. When Antyukh beat her to the finish line by less than half a step, Demus said it crossed her mind that the Russian had never beaten her before. "But it wasn't in my mindset that anyone who beats me is automatically dirty. I didn't let that infiltrate my thinking," she said. "I just kind of accepted that I lost and I tried my best to move on. But it was a five- or six-year process of me just getting over failing at something I'd trained my whole life to do."

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She said she holds no ill will against the IOC for the decade-plus that it took to get this medal to her. But she wanted more than a mere pro forma commemoration of the moment. What she really wanted was a ceremony at the track stadium, but the IOC told her that wasn't possible. "I would have appreciated a little more, I guess, glitz and glam for people who are receiving their medals" belatedly, Demus said. "It's a work in progress. I'm pushing on in good faith. I'm glad I'm at the forefront in this. I can literally say that I am the trailblazer of this movement." Among the others slated to receive medals that day will be Zuzana Hejnová of the Czech Republic and Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica, who finished behind Demus in the 400. Also in the group of 10: American high jumper Erik Kynard, who finished second to a Russian found to be doping.

(More gold medal stories.)

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