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Former CHS hurdler comes just shy of Olympic bid

Track and field phenom and Claremont High School graduate Kori Carter narrowly missed an opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games, falling one place short of the cut with a fourth place finish in the final heat of the 400-meter hurdles at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.

The former star hurdler for Stanford University came in just behind third-place finisher Sydney McLaughlin on Sunday. McLaughlin, 16, is the youngest track and field Olympic participant since 1976.

New Yorker Dalilah Muhammad whon the race, followed by Indiana native Ashley Spencer.

Carter, 24, was understandably disappointed. “It really kind of sucks,” she said during a phone interview Thursday. “You work hard to get to the [Olympic trials] and it was my big goal all year to make the team and hopefully get a medal.”

Sunday’s race could have ended very differently, but Carter’s legs gave out.

“I got lane three which was great because I am a chaser and I like the inside track where everyone else is in front of me,” she said. “I came out fast and was in second place when I hit the stretch, but then my quads gave out. After the last hurdle I had nothing and had to dive but ended up in fourth.”

In spite of her disappointment, Carter praised McLaughlin saying: “She is a beast. I know she will represent the US amazingly.”

CHS principal Brett O’Connor was naturally quite proud of his former student. “CHS is incredibly proud of your performance, but more importantly we are proud of who you are: a hard working young lady with passion, empathy, integrity and great leadership skills.” he said.

Carter has had a remarkable career since she left Claremont following her 2010 graduation. She signed her first professional contract in 2013 right after the end of her NCAA career. Currently she is sponsored by Brand Jordan, a division of Nike. Most of her time is spent training and competing in the track and field circuit, which involves a lot of travel to Asia and Europe.

She was a nine-time All American at Stanford University and as a junior in 2013, Carter won the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the 400-meter hurdles in a collegiate record time of 53.21. She also came in second in the 100-meter hurdles at the same event.

As a professional she placed first in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships. She placed third in the same event last year.

Carter, who now lives in Los Angeles, was also a 2013 Bowerman finalist, which is college track’s highest honor.

While at CHS, Carter won the CIF California State Meet in the 100- and 300-meter hurdle races both her junior and senior years, and won the 300 hurdles as a sophomore. She made the final in both races all four years, the first of those as a freshman in 2007.

Carter started running track as a seventh grade student at El Roble. Her father Bruce Carter was always trying to get her involved in team sports, but she said nothing ever suited her.

“I got bored with softball, I had too much energy, I had to keep moving,” she said.

At first she was going to compete in heptathlons because she was good at multiple sports. She settled on hurdles in part because of good coaching from Eugene Bramble who, at the time, was a hurdler at Mt. SAC, and then fellow Claremont resident Richard Holmes. Holmes is a well-known coach who really helped her develop her stride.

“He was so amazing,”?Carter said, “and how did we not know [at first] that he was right around the corner?”

Even though she did not make the US team, Carter is still looking forward to her next challenge, which will include a bid for the 2020 Olympics.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com