Kori Carter stormed to the world 400m hurdles title from the outside lane in London. But the US hurdler’s journey and subsequent success in the British capital was far from straight forward.
Forced from her comfort zone
“My greatest challenge was moving last fall from Los Angeles to Kentucky to be coached by my old college coach, Flo (Edrick Floreal). It was a difficult move for me because it forced me out of my comfort zone, but it was necessary for me to make it to the next level.
“At the end of the 2016 season I was racking my brain to work out what went wrong. I had only just missed out on one spot from making the Olympic team, so it was not as if I was running terribly. But I knew I had to make a change because I didn’t want to be in this same position and feel like this again.
“Before he left to go to the University of Kentucky, Flo was my coach during my freshman and sophomore year at Stanford University. We had a special bond so I decided to head east to be coached once more by him. I remember I made the decision on the Wednesday and by the Friday of that week I was in Kentucky.
“As a California girl, it took some time to adjust to the weather. For the first time in my life I had to deal with winter and I remember calling my mom once and telling her it was 6C. Having to train inside during the winter was also difficult. I’d been used to training outdoors 12 months a year and to train around those tight curves was a shock to the system.
“Coach Flo is very meticulous about everything. Whether it is in the weight room or yoga, everything he does is timed. My body took a few months to adjust and then when we hit the spring he always made me train at race pace for every single practice session, which was way more intense than I was used to.
“He also put me on a no bread and pasta diet, which was very hard for me because I love food. At first I thought it was because I was out of shape, but I realised over time it was less about weight loss and more about committing to something and sacrificing something you love – in my case food.
“The first time I really realised all the sacrifices were worth it came in the World Championships semi-finals. I felt solid in the race, although towards the end I felt a little weird (Carter finished second in 54.92). When I talked to coach Flo after the race, I said I went through perfectly to five but he said you messed up at hurdle five. I thought I had alternated at six but he was right, it was hurdle five. I was running the race so quickly, I thought I was at hurdle six. This made me believe that if I can make such a huge mistake and still feel so strong, then that is a good sign. I then went on to win gold in the final in 53.07.
“When you are pushed out of your comfort zone, there are no guarantees that everything is going to work. But winning the world title made all the sacrifices worth it.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF