Quick Stats: Carmelita Jeter, Sprinter, Team USA
Daily Driver: 2011 Mercedes-Benz G550 (Carmelita's rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Los Angeles to Detroit
Car she learned to drive in: 1988 Cadillac El Dorado
First car bought: 2000 Honda Accord
One of the fastest women in the world, sprinter Carmelita Jeter, represented Team USA at the Olympics for the first time in London, where she took the Silver medal in the 100-meter race and Bronze in the 200-meter. Her personal record of 10.64 seconds in the 100-meter is second only to the 10.49-second world record time set by Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Jeter always has loved cars, and often drives her 2011 Mercedes-Benz G550 to training sessions.
"I definitely liked the style of it -- the box, the military truck look that it has going on. It's like a tank," she says, giving it a perfect 10. "For a truck, it's very fast. It drives like a car, but the AMG piping on it is very loud. You can definitely hear me coming from a mile away."
When she isn't driving the G550, Jeter cruises around in her 2010 Mercedes E350 coupe, which she rates an 8. "I have to be in certain moods and if my mood switches, then I'll jump in that car," she says. "When I just feel like driving and relaxing more, I definitely hop into the car."
Car she learned to drive in
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jeter wanted to get her license as soon as she was eligible to take the driving test. She learned to drive in her grandmother's Cadillac El Dorado, which she thinks was a 1988 model year.
"It didn't have power steering, so I had to keep turning the wheel, keep turning the wheel to get it to turn. It was silver with grey interior," she says. Her grandmother taught her to drive. "When she was teaching me how to drive, her whole thing was, 'You better not hit another car.' So you were really paying attention and making sure you did everything right. You did your hand signals, because you were afraid to hit another car."
Her grandmother taught her all the basics. "Once she got comfortable with me driving, she didn't say too much. She just sat in the car. But when we first started, she said, 'Check your mirrors, check your signals.' She definitely taught me how to drive. Then, as she got more comfortable with me driving, she would just sit in the passenger seat and let me drive."
Jeter took her test the day after she turned 16. On the day of the test, there was a Jetta in the driveway and her friends were there, waiting to congratulate her. But she failed the test because she rolled through a stop sign.
"All of my friends were at my house, they had balloons, and I'm pulling up with my dad, crying," she says now with a laugh. "Everybody's like, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'I didn't pass!' I had to wait two weeks before I could take it again."
Her parents bought her the used 1988 Jetta, which was her first car. "It was smoke grey. It had light tinted windows and it had a grey interior. I loved my Jetta," she says. "It was a four-door Jetta and since my last name is Jeter, I had a Jetta, it all just worked out."
First car bought
"The first car I bought was 2000 Honda Accord V6 two-door coupe," she says. "It was a brand-new car." She bought it with money she made from working at GameWorks and as the track coach and assistant athletic director at her high school.
Her goal was always to represent Team USA in the Olympics. "I've always had my eyes on the Olympics; I've always had my eyes on the World Championship; I've always had my eyes on being a professional runner."
She turned pro in 2007, signing a contract with Nike, and later bought a 2008 Range Rover. She subsequently bought the G550 and E350.
"I bought it because I work hard. I push myself to the next level, but I just don't go out and buy things. If I want something, I'll say, 'I need to make sure A, B, and C are in line before I get these,'" she says. "I just believe in being smart, making sure you handle business and finances, and you're not out buying stuff because you can buy it. In any sport, you want to make sure that you have your cushion, you have your business set before you go out and just start splurging."
Favorite road trip
Growing up, Jeter went on summer road trips with her grandparents in their motorhome and they would often fish.
"I was a master at fishing growing up," she laughs. "We would always take these road trips and find different lakes. My grandparents would always find some relative that lived somewhere far. That would be our excuse to go visit people -- we would hop in a motorhome."
On one drive to Oklahoma, she was asleep on the bed. "There's a bed at the top that you can pull down, like bunk beds, and I was on the top of that one and I rolled off and fell to the ground of the motorhome. I'll never forget that trip because that hurt so bad," she says.
Some fishing trips were to places near Los Angeles, such as Lake Perris.
"That's the lake we used to go to a lot, so we would get up at 4:30 in the morning, stock the cooler with sandwiches and bait, and we would be out there fishing all day," she says, adding that her grandparents still go fishing.
Another favorite road trip was the time they drove from Los Angeles to Michigan.
"My family is from Detroit and that was a lot of fun -- stopping and playing games in the motorhome and being around each other for so many days. That was probably one of the best trips."
London 2012 Summer Olympics
At the time of this interview, Jeter's singular focus had been training for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Photo by Robert Deutsch, USA...
Photo by Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports
"We go there three weeks before the game starts," she said of the Olympics. "I'm very excited to go to London 2012. I've never made an Olympic team. I'm a world champion, I'm the fastest woman alive, but I don't have an Olympic medal and that's what's pushing me for 2012."
Jeter became the second-fastest woman in history in the 100-meter race, winning the 2009 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in 10.64 seconds. After winning the 100-meter race last year in Daegu, South Korea, Jeter immediately set her sights on London 2012.
American Olympians don't know if they'll be on Team USA until shortly before the games. They have to make the team at the Olympic trials. "You don't know if you're going till the end of June. You've still got to run the trials," she says. "A lot of countries don't do their trials like ours. A lot of countries pick who they want to run and that's who goes. But USA and also Jamaica -- you have to make your team."
Jeter also participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events because, having had family members affected by cancer, she supports the foundation's work.