CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Amy Deem’s Olympic responsibilities are now complete, so she went back to her real gig on Tuesday.
No time for a victory lap — though one certainly would seem warranted.
Deem was the coach for the U.S. women’s track and field team at the London Olympics, part of the group that helped Americans win more medals and more gold medals than any other nation at the games. U.S. track and field athletes won 29 medals in London, 14 of them by Deem’s side of the roster, including three golds by sprinter Allyson Felix.
Still, at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, Deem was back in her office at Miami (Fla.), where she’s the director of track and field and cross country for the Hurricanes, sitting at her desk and sneaking a peek every now and then at — what else? — Olympic highlights playing on the big-screen television mounted on the wall.
“I think I was really able to enjoy the whole experience,” Deem said. “It was hard work. It was stressful at times. But we had a tremendous group of athletes, a lot of experience, the team meshed really well together. For an Olympic team, it felt like we had minimal issues, nothing that you weren’t expecting. It was a truly amazing experience.”
The numbers back that up as well.
Americans won by far the most medals in track and field at London, part of the reason why the U.S. team overall came home with 104 medals and 46 golds. Deem works closely with U.S. relays coach Jon Drummond, and the relays delivered perhaps two of the top moments for the Americans at the Olympic Stadium — the win in the 4×400-meter women’s relay, and the record-smashing show in the 4×100-meter women’s relay.
In the 4×100, the U.S. finished in 40.82 seconds — 0.55 seconds faster than the old mark, which doesn’t sound like much, but for that event it was a complete breakthrough. The previous time was 41.37 seconds by East Germany, and that mark stood for nearly 27 years.
“Every time that word came up, I squashed it,” Deem said, referring to any record talk. “That’s just me. To me, it was more important for those young women to get the stick around the track and get the medal. Everything else was icing on the cake. We really tried to focus on the execution of the relay and let everything else take care of itself.”
Then the moment came — and even Deem got wrapped up in it all.
“I wasn’t even focused on the record,” said Deem, who has been involved with the U.S. Track and Field for many years and hopes to continue in some capacity with the federation. “And then they did it.”
Deem wasn’t technically in the stadium for the record-setting moment. It’s one of her countless superstitions. She stayed in the warm-up area, not wanting to jinx anything, and still raved about it afterward.
“The best experience of my life,” she said of coaching the Olympians.
On Tuesday, it was back to reality, as Deem took her spot in the office at Miami that’s loaded with plaques and trophies from her run of success with the Hurricanes.
There’s a fall season with the Hurricanes to finish preparing for, paperwork to handle, recruits to contact, many of whom are surely aware that Deem just got done coaching one of the most talented track squads ever assembled.
And there’s some Olympic duties that remain as well, such as reports and final evaluations.
But no vacation for Deem this year — she already had her unforgettable summer trip.
“To be part of history, it’s unbelievable,” Deem said. “You can’t explain it.”