From the beginning, it was clear Tasha Danvers was destined to become one of USC’s true track stars. In her freshman year, not only did she become the PAC-10 400m hurdles silver medalist, she was also an NCAA finalist. During her USC career, she continued her streak of success by being the champion or placing in the top 3 in several PAC-10 and NCAA Championships, not only in the 400m hurdles, but the 100m hurdles, high jump, and 1600m relay. USC’s head coach referred to Tasha as being “arguably USC’s greatest ever all-round track athlete.” Her winning personality and talent was not only recognized by her coaches but also her peers when in 1999 as a junior she was voted Team Captain, and then again as a senior.
In 2000, she culminated her career achievements by becoming the PAC-10 and NCAA 400m hurdles champion, the highest possible achievement for a collegiate athlete. The year 2000 also saw Tasha break the USC school record (which still stands today) and become a Sydney Olympic Games finalist in both her individual event and the relay. After graduating from USC with a B.S. in Music Industry, Tasha has continued her athletic success as a professional athlete. Some of her earlier achievements include Commonwealth Games finalist, European Championships finalist, European U23’s Champion, the World University Games Champion and National Champion (on several occasions). In 2003, she set a personal best time of 54.02, which placed her 2nd on Great Britain’s all-time list behind Sally Gunnell (the former world record holder).
In 2004, she took time off to give birth to her son Jaden Wayde Smith. In 2005, seven months after giving birth, Tasha was back on the track competing at her National Championships where she placed 5th. This was the only year in her professional career where she was not ranked in the top 10 in the world. Her dedication continued to amaze those following her career when in 2006 not only was she back to being ranked #1 in Great Britain and 6th in the world, but she became the Commonwealth Games silver medalist. In February 2007, she was awarded her alma mater’s highest honor when she was inducted into the USC Track & Field Hall of Fame. Shortly after, she suffered an injury which took her out of training for two months but, just as with her pregnancy, this did not stop her. Tasha fought her way back to the top, finishing her season again ranked #1 in Great Britain, placing in the top 8 at the World Championships and running an outstanding time of 54.08 (only 6/100ths of a second off her lifetime best). So with hard work, persistence and dedication, the stage was set for Tasha to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympic champion. But with an injury riddled 2008 season, Tasha almost missed the chance of even being on the team.
After long consideration, the Olympic Team selectors decided to bank on Tasha’s go-getter personality and experience… and the rest is history. On August 20, Tasha became the 400m hurdles Olympic bronze medalist. She is the second British woman ever not only to receive a medal in her event, but to reach the Olympic final. Her dynamic personality and her success have seen her receive much adoration and respect from people across the globe. She now uses her success as a platform to help others reach success in their given field, mentor teens, and does motivational speeches on a regular basis for all age groups. She has even written a book called, “Keep Ya Peckah Up” (which can also be found under the title “Get Off Your Bum– The Pocket Guide to Unleashing Your Greatness”) in which she passes on some of the tools that she has found to be key for success in life. Tasha has a particular love for youngsters and hopes that through her success and input she will ignite their human potential and maximize their personal effectiveness. Tasha enjoys songwriting, singing, and is an abstract artist with many of her paintings featured in exhibitions and available for sale on her website. Tasha Danvers is a true star and true inspiration both on and off the track. Her determination, compassion and desire to see others succeed make her one of life’s winners.
5 QUESTIONS WITH OLYMPIAN TASHA DANVERS
Q. What is your best exercise advice?
A. Work not only hard, but work smart. Be mindful about flexibility, making sure you keep your muscles flexible is very important. And especially rest. People underestimate rest a lot.
Q. What is your fitness regimen like today?
A. My fitness regimen is similar to what I was doing as an Olympian, but because I’m much older now I need more rest. I work really hard on the days I work out – it could be hill work, track work, weight room, upper body, lower body, basically track and field workouts – but I rest well, too.
Q. How has being physically active and eating properly helped you achieve success in life?
A. When you eat right your whole life is just better. Your brain functions better and you are able to do more. I just turned 40. I don’t think I look 40. When you take care of yourself, your body will take care of you. Unhealthy eating can lead to mood swings, depression and things like that, so it behooves a person to take care of their body. Unfortunately most people don’t realize that until they already have problems.
Q. Exercise can be boring, so how do you make it fun?
A. Fun is my middle name. I tell people there is always something you can find that will suit you. Exercise doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill at the gym. Exercise can be dancing to your favorite John Lennon song in your living rom. It could be going to a Zumba class. It could be getting a couple of your friends together to play Frisbee or flag football. It could be whatever you want it to be. There are many ways to exercise, but you have to make the effort to seek out the thing that suits you.
Q. What is the biggest benefit that you get from exercising regularly and eating healthy?
A. Energy. When I don’t eat right I can tell the difference. My energy plummets.