Monday, January 28, 2008

The Worst I Can Be

It is 6:14am in the morning and I am sitting on the floor of my hotel room in Vienna, Austria with the lights out, trying to be quiet so that I don't wake up my roommate who does not seem to be suffering from the same jet lag that I am. I've actually been awake since about 5:20am or so. I tried to go back to sleep but that wasn't working. My mind is running rampant and I figured I might as well get up and be productive.

I haven't been able to update my blog because I've been traveling. I was in Glasgow, Scotland up until yesterday morning. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel which is all well and good except for the fact that it cost 17 pounds per day to use the internet which works out to be around $35 USD!!! That's highway robbery if you ask me so I chose not to be connected to the World Wide Web for a few days. It's actually not all bad. It can be addictive sometimes.

Yesterday morning we left the hotel at 6am to go to the aiport. My flight didn't leave until 9am but that's the price you pay when you have to travel in groups with other athletes- they take you to airport waaaay in advance to accommodate everyone. After many delays and therefore an extended layover in Heathrow airport in London, I finally arrived here at around 9:15pm!!! That's over 12 hours of travel!!! Any of you who are familiar with Europe know that this trip should really take no longer than about 5 or 6 hours maximum including layovers.

Suffice to say, I was exhausted last night by the time I got in. At least my driver was ready and waiting for me at the airport once I got through customs so I made it to the hotel relatively quickly. I checked in quickly and thankfully the restaurant was still open so I hurried down there and had dinner. The food was EXCELLENT which is sometimes rare over here but that was definitely a plus. I ran into a friend of mine who I hadn't seen in ages, Coby Miller, and so I sat and had dinner with him and a couple other athletes.

OK, so enough beating around the bush. I am going to keep this short and sweet. I competed 2 days ago in Glasgow. It was my first time competing at Kelvin Hall and all I can say is Lord Have Mercy!!! I don't think I could possibly have competed any worse. I jumped about as far as the average high schooler. I finished 6th.....out of 6!!! My runup to the board was backwards - I ran the first part fast-ish and the last half slow-ish. My takeoff was horrible. My mind and my focus were apparently taking sabbaticals. I had talked before about having my A game ready. Well I think this was oh, maybe my X,Y,Z game!! If my old coach from Stanford, Brooks Johnson wasn't there helping me throughout the competition to sort out the foolishness that I was doing, I think I might still be at Kelvin Hall, hiding under the bleachers somewhere. Talk about a lesson in humility!! Good grief!!

This sort of performance REALLY makes you question yourself and begs you to be sure that you are truly committed. The only good thing is that it cannot be any worse - that's for sure!! Thankfully, Brooks reassured me that it wasn't all bad. This was evidenced by the fact that even though it took me all 6 jumps to get what he was saying, on the last jump I jumped a distance far enough that would have probably placed me somewhere in the top 3....except for one minor was a FOUL!!! no one cares and it doesn't count, except to me and Brooks. Now even this distance wasn't stellar but on a night where even the girl that won (she finished 5th at the World Championships last year) jumped about 2 feet off of her personal best also, it would have at least been some solace to know that I was being competitive.

But that was not the case. I was an embarrassment to myself and I am OK in acknowledging that because it is what it is and it was the truth. Some changes are going to come swiftly in regards to what I am doing but as Brooks so eloquently put it, "There are no medals being handed out in January. The Oympics are in August!" Again, the results didn't lie. I just simply did not get the job done but I am woman enough to admit that, because I am in it for the long haul. I'm not going to wine and complain because last I checked that doesn't solve anything. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right and I'm not ready to hand in my jump shoes just yet....

Monday, January 21, 2008


Being a professional track and field athlete is unlike any other profession in the world. It requires so much - you have to be born gifted first of all, but aside from that you have to dedicate yourself to a cause whose outcome is uncertain. We all know from experience that just because you put in the work, there are no guarantees; it doesn't necessarily mean that you will reap the rewards. You will be more likely to achieve success, but nothing is a given. On average, I train 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, 46 weeks out of the year and my commitment to my sport is unquestionable.

Unlike team sports where you can pass the ball if you are not playing well, or rebound or maybe block shots, or other sports where you can hand the ball off to your running back if you're not passing well, or if you're a lineman maybe you missed your block, but chances are nobody noticed, track and field, much like tennis, is an individual sport. We can't hide behind a teammate or personal opinion - was that jump worth a 10 or an 8.5? Was my leg straight or was my arm bent? - automatic 0.5 deduction! In my sport, we don't get style points. Nobody cares what you look like. You either do or you don't! No subjectivity here! Michael Johnson was about as unorthodox a runner as he could have been. Didn't matter.

I have missed making the finals at the World Championships by 1cm on more than one occasion. But there is no second guessing, no questioning those results. The Russian judge didn't score me lower than his own countrywoman. It's all on me to produce the goods day in and day out. You know the old saying, "Put up, or shut up!" Sometimes I wonder why I have chosen a profession such as mine. If I just had a regular desk job, no one would be comparing me to the best in the world every time out. Maybe I would be compared to others at my company, and I'm sure that presents its own challenges, but I can't imagine that that compares in intensity to stepping out in front of the world, rendering myself open to judgement and comparison, being vulnerable to criticism and critique, knowing that I am only as good as my last performance, and knowing that my very livelihood depends on whether or not I can master my mind and my body rain or shine.(This picture was taken at The Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006. I was competing with pneumonia, yes pneumonia that I had gotten in Moscow, Russia the week before. I had fouled a jump and I was asking myself what the heck is wrong with me and I guess the photographer liked the fact that I was talking to myself:)

How can I love a sport so much, when there is so much at stake- pride, confidence, joy, injury? I have been competing for a long time now, and no matter how many times when I am down, or nervous beyond compare, or hurt or tired, or embarrassed and I ask myself that question, "Why are you doing this to yourself?", the answer comes quickly.....because I know I can be better. I have jumped over 22ft on many occasions, I have competed in the Olympics 4 times, I have made the finals at the World Championships 3 times but yet, I know can be better. I JUST KNOW IT!

And so I get up every day, even when it's raining, even when it's cold, even when I'm exhausted and head back on out to the track to "put some more money in the bank" so that when the time comes in August, in Beijing, when I tell my body that it's time to "cash in that check", that I can command myself to excel, no matter what. Truth be told, for as much as the Olympics are about medals, and finishing in the top 8 in the Sydney 2000 Games is already a highlight of my career, it is so much more about being the best that you can be. And for me, I cannot ask for more than that.

Friday, January 18, 2008


In about an hour, I am going with a friend of mine to the movies. There are quite a few to choose from - 27 Dresses, The Bucket List, PS- I Love You, Atonement, Juno, Mad Money and a few others that I haven't seen yet. They all seem pretty interesting however, we are going to see First Sunday! Now for those of you don't know which movie this is, it's the one with with Ice Cube, Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan where they set out to rob a church. How sacreligious!!

Sometimes it's easy to pick what movie to see - you know the must-sees; for me something like The Great Debaters or American Gangster. But there are other times when there are quite a few decent enough movies showing that I feel warrant me spending $12.50, yes it's $12.50 out here in LA - and so then you have to go to the secondary reasons like what mood am I in, what does the other person want to see, who's in it, etc.

I apologize in advance for saying this, but I have never been one for going to see movies with black characters in them just because they are black. I don't go to see movies with white characters in it just because they are white either for that matter. I want to support black enterprise too but it still needs to be something of value. However, tonight I feel like laughing and based on the characters in this movie and based on the trailers that I have seen, this one seems to fit the bill. Yes, I know it's going to be silly and yes I know it won't be the most intriguing plot ever but that's exactly what I'm looking for. All I have to do is look at Katt Williams with that perm in his hair and I want to bust out laughing :) LOL!!!

Now if he was coming out in a psychological thriller of some sort, I'd have to guess that I would have to pass. Tonight though, I am putting on my loose pair of jeans 'cause I know that I am going to be laughing really hard and coming on the heels of my outing on Tuesday night, I'm definitely ready for that!

Saturday afternoon....
So I went to the movie and I ended up paying $15.50 because the showing that we went to was in the Director's Hall where they have assigned seating...overrated!!! The movie was funny...but ahhh, not worth that much....wait for the DVD! Actually Tracy Morgan's character stole the show!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


So one of my all time favourite things to do is to go to comedy clubs. I had never been to one before I moved to LA and I had never thought that they would be all that entertaining anyway. I always figured, how funny can they be? That was until I went to my first show a couple years ago.

One day when I was at the track working out, I met a guy named Chris Spencer who as it turned out was the host at the very well known Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. He hosted a weekly show on Sunday nights called Chocolate Sundaes. He invited me to come to see one of the shows and eventually I finally went. Who knew?? I laughed my head off. I remember laughing so hard till my stomach and my head hurt. It hurt so good!! Since then I have been back many times and I have gone to several other clubs around Los Angeles. I think I like the atmosphere at a comedy club. It's different from a night club in that you don't have to deal with all game playing but you can still mingle a little, have a drink if you want and know that you're gonna have a pretty good time.

My friend Chris has sinced moved on from hosting at The Laugh Factory and now hosts at a place called The Savoy in Inglewood on Tuesday nights. He has invited me to stop by for quite some time now but because it's on a week day, it's kinda hard to go to a 9pm show, knowing that I have to workout the following morning.

Well tonight I finally decided to go...and boy did I have a great time. I had been a little apprehensive at first because I am not too familiar with Inglewood. I only know of it from rap songs but once I got there, I realised that I didn't have anything to worry about. The place was packed and I couldn't find a good table so I just hung out a little till I saw Chris and he got me a reserved table that was still available.

The show was fantastic. I'm not sure how many comics came up but everyone was really good.. The lineup included Joe Torry and Sheryl Underwood (the lady with the purse), but I would have to say that this guy that I had never seen before named Tony Roberts was the best of the bunch. I mean this guy had us all laughing sooo hard that my stomach literally ached and at times I could barely catch my breath. I would definitely go to see a show with just him by himself. He was that good!!!

Turns out it was the actress Regina King's birthday and so she was there with a few friends including Vanessa Bell Calloway and Theo Huxtable - what's his name?? - Malcolm Jamaal Warner. He cut those dreads off so he looked a lot better. I ran into a friend of mine there too. I saw him walking up to the table but I wasn't really paying attention. It wasn't until he got closer that I realised that it was him, Kenny Lofton. I met him a couple years ago actually at The Laugh Factory. He is as much a fan of comedy as I am. He ended up sitting with me. It was great to see him and to catch up and I look forward to seeing him again pretty soon.

I just got in so I better get to bed soon 'cause I have a jump session tomorrow that I need to "lick for six" (that's Jamaican for go well, ace, kill!) Training has been going pretty well and with my first competition coming up at the end of next week in Glasgow, Scotland, I need to have my A-game ready. In the meantime, I'm going to bed with a smile on my face because I had such a good time tonight. Laughter is good for the soul, they say and I would add that it's good for the heart and mind as well.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

To Catch A Predator

I'm sure you've all seen the NBC investigative show where they set up these stings to catch unsuspecting men/predators/child molestors. I was watching a rerun of one of the episodes tonight and was amazed once again at just how many men they catch.

The premise of the sting is they have a group of people who work for a group called Perverted Justice who pose as children around the ages of 13-15 who go into these chat rooms on the internet and lure grown men into conversations where the men end up discussing in very explicit detail what they would and will do to these young girls or boys. Then the men make arrangements to meet the "children" at their perspective homes. Sure enough, they show up with the expectations of having inappropriate contact with the minors. Everyone from the guy next door to priests, rabbis, black men, white men, married men, counselors - any and every type of guy. They come in the house and within a matter of seconds, the host of the show appears through a doorway and informs the perpetrators that they have been caught and that they were basically set up.

Now I have to say, the look on some of these guys face is PRICELESS and so are the stories they concoct! If the situation wasn't so dire, it would almost be funny. They go from being cocky and confident to mere quivering, pleading boys. It must be so humiliating, to say the least. Inevitably, they all say the same thing - I've never done anything like this before; I wasn't planning on doing anything, just wanted to hang out; I knew that this was a sting all along, I was just checking.

Yeah right!!!! Are we supposed to be idiots? Were we born yesterday? Are we naive, stupid??? C'mon! I guess when you are caught red-handed with your hand so far in the cookie jar that you might as well cut it off at the wrist, you say some pretty dumb things - anything to try and get out of the situation.

The dumbest thing is that many of these men have seen the To Catch A Predator show before and in spite of all their misgivings and hesitation, they forego common sense and show up anyway. They should get locked for stupidity alone! My thing is, obviously they have all done this before. You do not just wake up one day and say, "Hmmm, what shall I do today? Oh I know, I'm gonna go molest a child!" These people deserve to be caught. They deserve to be sentenced. They deserve to be humiliated. They deserve everything that comes to them as a result. Lord only knows what happens to those guys when they go to jail. I think I've heard that one of the most hated type of inmate within a prison, is anyone who hurts or molests a child. Oh well, you reap what you sow is what I say.

Can you imagine watching this show and seeing someone you know - a friend, a relative, a sibling, your pastor, your spouse for goodness sakes on there!!! I think nothing would be more mortifying...and so it should be! If this show does nothing else but stop one more guy from molesting another child, then job well done!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Yesterday afternoon, I finished working out at around 3pm after putting in another four hour training day and as soon as I got in my car to drive home, I checked my voicemail. I had two messages from my best girlfriend/business partner Peggy telling me that her babysitter had cancelled on her at the last minute and she really needed me to watch her two kids for about 3hrs so she could go to her first class for this semester. She's in design school. So by the time I got home, her and the kids, Xolani, 5 and Xander, 3 (pronounced Zolani and Zander) were there waiting from me. Now let's remember that had I just finished working out for 4 hours so I was more than a little bit tired, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

Peggy rushed off and all I can say after that is Lord have mercy! Just for the record, even though Peggy is my best friend, I think I have only watched her kids on a couple of occasions prior largely due to the fact that she lives about 40 mins away from me so I'm not a convenient option:) The kids started me out slowly. Peggy had bought them something to eat so they were busy for the first 15 -20 mins. After that, it starts to get a little foggy for me.

Once they figured out that I have a loft, and that they could throw things over and down into the living room, that was it!! They shredded paper, and "made it snow", they threw over throw pillows, paper airplanes that they made and some seat cushions. I think they might have run up and down the stairs over 20 or 30 times - I lost count. Who knew that one thing could be that entertaining?!

Then they found the switch to this cool lamp that I have and they began switching that thing off and on and off and on and off and on get the picture! They jumped over the back of the couch and onto the cushions, they continued to eat intermittently, dropped food, spilled water... You know at first I was trying to keep everything in order - stop, don't do that, do this, sit here, go over there...and slowly I just began to look the other way, as long as there was no fear of them hurting themselves. I even reached the point where I took them to the park across the street just so that some more time would pass. That took up a good 40 minutes. At some point, I had to resort to the failsafe bribery method of promising candy in the event of good behavior.

I am usually pretty meticulous about keeping everything neat and tidy. Suffice to say, by the time Peggy came, my apartment looked like a storm had passed through...and I could care less! As they gathered their things, Peggy and I cleaned up, and I gave them hugs, said goodbye and gave them the candycanes that they had "earned".

I finally got to take a shower and felt a small sense of relief that no one got hurt and that nothing got broken. Somewhere right around 10pm I started to feel sleepy. For those of you that go to bed early, this might not seem odd, but for someone like me who usually goes to bed at around 1am, this kinda caught me off guard. I tried fighting it for about an hour, but I finally decided to just give in. I laid it down and if this had been a 10 round boxing match and we were to check the scorecards, I would say - Kids, 9 - Jackie, 1! I give myself 1 point just because I survived.

To all you parents out there, I have no idea how you do it. Nevertheless, in spite of it all, if and when Peggy comes a calling, I'll be there to wage the battle again..

Friday, January 4, 2008


So it is raining pretty hard here in LA. There is supposed to be a rainstorm for the next few days and whoever wrote that song, "It never rains in Southern California", well they told a lie!! For a person such as myself, whose daily routine involves being outside, when the rain comes, it forces me to change my plans, adapt but keep on moving. I don't mind the rain actually. It slows me down and enables me to pause and think. I decided to write my top 10 things that I like to do when it rains so here goes....

10) If you are a black female, then chances are you hate getting your hair wet 'cause we can't just shake it out and look fabulous, but if you HAVE to be out there, then go ahead, get over it and just get drenched! Open your arms, face towards the sky, close your eyes and let the drops fall on your face! Or better yet, dance in the rain....

9) Get really dirty and play football in the mud. Believe it or not, I have actually played co-ed tag football in the rain. I got a little carried away and tackled this guy. I don't think he liked that too much!!

8) Listen to the pitter patter on the window panes. It's kinda rhythmic and it'll put you to sleep before you know it...(this one is even better if you have someone to curl up with while you're listening to that rain!)

7) Bundle up in your blanket and sip some hot chocolate/ coffee/ tea.

6) Cuddle up in your bed with your favorite book - I am just finishing a guilty pleasure kind of book, Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins. It has been really good - full of murder, family secrets, mega money, lust - everything you need for a juicy story. I'm sorry it's about to end...

5) Play some slow, romantic kind of music - somehow it sounds better when it's raining outside. Love it!

4) Rent a good DVD - my thing is Romantic Comedies or Suspense although if you haven't seen The Last King of Scotland, I would highly recommend this one.

3) Get online and read other people's blogs, musings, articles. You know how it is, you can get caught up doing this - next thing you know 2 hours have passed. My good friend Ato Boldon, wrote a very good article today for Hellenic Athletics about who he thinks will be the most influential people in 2008 in track. Check it out and see if you agree: (Copy and paste link)

2) If it's still raining tomorrow, that'll be fine with me because the NFL playoffs are starting and so I would have been planted in front of the TV anyway!! So if it's gonna rain, then tomorrow is as good a day as any...

And my number one thing to do when it's raining outside....(DRUM ROLL please....)

1) Get out of those wet clothes, turn the hot water up as hot as you can stand it without doing bodily harm, jump in the shower, or bath and belt out your favorite song at the top of your lungs - I just finished doing it, with the song playing in the background and now I'm gettting ready to do a combo of numbers 7, 6 and 5 on this list...

To those of you who happened to be blessed with sunshine right now, oh well, sorry can't help you. I'm sure you can figure out something to do all on your own...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008



Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make everyone feel there is something special in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and work to make your optimisim come true.
To think only the best, expect only the best, to work only for the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget about the mistakes of the past and press on towards the possibilities of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and greet every living creature you meet with a smile.
To give so much time to to the improvement of yourself, that you have no time to critcize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Craig Larson

I just wanted to take the time to wish you all - my friends, my family - all the best in 2008. Let's do it bigger and better this time around....Love, peace and blessings...