Quarles' World Championships Experience
Sept. 16, 2011
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By Miquel Jacobs
A contingent of six current and former South Carolina Gamecocks competed at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and South Carolina Assistant Head Coach Delethea Quarles was on hand as a member of the Team USA staff in the record breaking weekend.
Quarles was an assistant coach for the American team and was in charge of vertical and horizontal jumps. It was her fifth time being selected as a Team USA coach, having previously worked with Team USA as head coach at the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships and as an assistant coach for the 2006 World Cup, 2005 Pan American Championships and 2002 Team USA vs. the Netherlands.
"It's such an honor to represent the university and to represent the USA," Quarles said of her appointment. "You feel proud while you're there knowing that you make decisions that represent your country. That's not a responsibility I take lightly, but it was a lot of fun."
In her capacity, Quarles worked on a staff that saw Team USA's jumpers claim five medals at the World Championships, four of which were gold. The Americans swept the long jump gold with Dwight Phillips and Brittney Reese taking the wins, while Jesse Williams won the high jump and Christian Taylor won the triple jump. Will Claye took bronze in the triple jump.
"It was an amazing opportunity to work with some of the athletes that I've seen compete in the SEC," Quarles said of a medal-winning list that included Reese from Ole Miss and Taylor and Claye from Florida. "There were SEC champions that I got to work with up close until their personal coaches arrived. Brittany Reese in the long jump, obviously the gold medalist, I spent a lot of time with her. She's an awesome individual and very easy to work with. We had a lot of fun. Her championship was a great experience."
It was a great experience for Quarles as well. It was her first trip to South Korea, an area known in the media as a friend of America while dealing with political hostilities with their neighbors to the north. After enduring a 15-hour flight and 13-hour time difference, Quarles was able to settle in and kept close to home by speaking with family back in the United States about her experience. In total, she spent three weeks in Daegu and enjoyed the culture and the scenery while doing her best to nail down the language. She signaled out the mountains as a beautiful piece of scenery that many may not know is a part of South Korea.
"This is probably the furthest and longest I've been away from home," Quarles said. "It was a different experience than probably any other country that I've been to. Korea was a very pleasant place to visit. The people there are very polite and generous. I only learned a few words, but I did learn "thank you" so they were very appreciative of anyone that tried to speak their language. The atmosphere was very laid back. There are a lot of things about different countries that you imagine, and (Korea) wasn't like I imagined."
The World Championships ran from August 27 to September 4 at Daegu Stadium, a venue that Quarles compared to Williams-Brice Stadium with families and children all around, throwing footballs and playing catch. And just like the Gamecock program does back in Columbia, Team USA held team meetings, which proved to be one of the best off-the-track moments for Quarles. With a Gamecock contingent comprised of Miki Barber, Lashinda Demus, Natasha Hastings, Jason Richardson and Shalonda Solomon, the former protégé's of head coach Curtis Frye had time to meet and make their presence known with Gamecock crows when their names were announced in the meetings.
While coaching her events, Quarles was also able to see the races by some of the athletes. All six athletes were NCAA champions during their time in the garnet and black, but their development has continued to improve as each strives to become the best in their respective events.
"That was a lot of fun to see them at their best now and at a higher level through their years of development," Quarles said. "We actually got together as much as we could in between their training. Some of them asked me to assist them in their training sessions. I guess you'll always be their coach and always have that connection. It's just great to see them doing things on the world set."
Two of those Gamecocks earned their first World Championship gold medals at the event. Richardson won gold in the 110-meter hurdles at 13.16 to become the first Gamecock male to win gold at the world event since Leroy Dixon did in 2007 as a member of Team USA's 400-meter relay team. Three days later, Demus set an American record in the 400-meter hurdles after crossing the line at 52.47, besting the previous American record of 52.61 that held steady for 16 years.
"It was awesome," Quarles said of seeing their gold medal runs. "I felt like that was my Olympics to be there and see (Jason). Even his practice times, to see the commitment that he has made to his training overall, Jason seemed like he was definitely at peace with himself and committed to being his very best. That was great to see. With Lashinda, I don't think she even knew that she had the American record when she broke it. I just see that they're on track to do even greater things. I just feel extra proud like the mom or aunt to some of these athletes sometimes."
The Gamecocks at the championships weren't limited to Team USA as current senior Kierre Beckles competed in the 100-meter hurdles for Barbados. The national record holder in the event, Beckles was one of only five athletes to compete from her country, a tremendous feat and group to be in for a collegiate athlete.
"It was an awesome opportunity for a collegiate athlete to achieve," Quarles said of Beckles making the team. "There were many young people on Team USA, and there are also young faces like Kierre's that come from a small country like Barbados. It speaks for what Coach Frye stands for and this program and university. Some of these opportunities may not be afforded if it wasn't for the sport of track and field. Kierre is an awesome individual, she's a competitor and she loves doing her very best at all times. She works hard and is a person that handles her business on the track and off the track. She followed the footsteps of the Miki Barber's and others that had an opportunity to be on the Olympic teams when they were here as collegiates. We're very proud of her, and I'm sure her country is. Track and field has given her an opportunity as it does all of us that participate in this event."
After re-adjusting to the Eastern Time Zone and immersing herself back into the thick of the fall training schedule before the start of the 2012 collegiate season, Quarles is thankful for the opportunity to work on the American staff. Even more so, she is proud of the legacy that has been created with the Gamecock track and field program, and is looking forward to an even brighter future for the former, current and future members to wear the South Carolina uniform.
"I would have to say Coach Frye has created a legacy as he has also been one of the coaches that has pretty much put a lot of history in the record books at the World Championships and the Olympic Games," Quarles said of the head of the Gamecock program. "It just makes me proud to be a part of the selection so that I can continue the legacy that Coach Frye has started here at South Carolina. (The success of Gamecocks on the national stage) speaks well for the labor and the work that Coach Frye has put into his program here. What he has instilled in the athletes for them to be their very best obviously has gone a long, long way for many over the years."