Lashinda Demus is an Olympic silver medalist, world champion, and American record holder in the 400-meter hurdles. An ambassador for Athletes Soul, which provides wellness support to retired athletes, Demus is also working with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to make athletic competition clean. Before joining a Zócalo/ASU Foundation streamed event titled “Can We Build a Better Summer Olympics?” she called into the virtual green room to talk about her love of dance, learning to bike at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and her admiration for Wilma Rudolph.
When are you at your most creative?
When I’m inspired by something. It doesn’t have to be a sports-related topic. I can just watch an amazing story or read an article and it sparks ideas. So that’s when I’m most creative—when I’m inspired by something or someone.
What do you do to decompress?
I’m a lover of music, so I use that for everything. I need complete silence—no TV, no distractions from anyone. Just myself and music. Another good one for decompression is going for a walk. Also doing yoga.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What I think I really wanted to be was a dancer. I was really into dancing and loved to do it. But I was just better at running track, so my mom kind of pushed me in that direction.
Do you still dance now, as an adult?
Yeah, just for fun. I love dancing.
What sports figure, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
I would have really liked to meet Wilma Rudolph. Her story is inspiring like crazy. She had polio, she was told she wouldn’t be able to walk again, and she became a three-time Olympic Gold medalist.
What’s your earliest childhood memory?
I can’t remember before [age] 5, but one of the things that was pretty cool is I’m from LA, and I learned to ride my bike at the Coliseum. I can recall my dad taking my sister and I to the parking lot of the Coliseum and teaching us how to ride a bike there. And then when we learned how to finally ride from home… to the Coliseum, and just follow him on our bikes, that was a lot of fun.
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t have just one. I would say my favorite books to read are peoples’ stories. I like biographies and autobiographies and self-help books. But the last book I read was The American Marriage.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My sons, when they were younger, they got me these two bracelets for Christmas. Just the simple fact that they were able to reach out to my friend who makes jewelry, and get the bracelets and hold them all the way until Christmas without me finding out, I was like, this is crazy. I was so shocked. I would say that was my best gift. I love thoughtful gifts.
What's the last thing that inspired you?
This movement going on right now with police brutality is inspiring me to be more active in the community. Just to be more aware, to be more present, more active. It’s inspiring me to do better.