Kori Carter celebrates at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships on Aug. 10, 2017 in London.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a little down time to spark creativity.
Or at least that’s what U.S. hurdler Kori Carter said inspired her to make the video she posted to social media a couple weeks back extolling the virtues of hand washing. Captioning it quite accurately “An anthem for our times” with the hashtag #washyohands and a beat leading into the vocal track, Carter stands at the sink working up a lather and telling people to wash those hands just like they should.
“It was actually before everything started to go down and I had gone to the Nike campus,” she said, referring to the novel coronavirus that’s shut down much of the world. “It was crazy because everyday things were escalating. I was in my hotel room by myself, kind of bored, and I love a shenanigan, so I was on TikTok and had this little song in my head and put it on camera. But yeah, I was bored and in a hotel room.”
A few months ago it would never have seemed possible that by March people’s social media feeds would be filled with talk of hand washing and staying at home. Yet in the time of physical distancing people are looking for ways to stay positive, make others smile, share good news and, yes, still impart a message.
Carter, who was the world champion in the 400-meter hurdles in 2017, is doing all of that.
In another post the Stanford grad, 27, said she knows we’re supposed to be physical distancing, but she was so bored and so lonely that she had to invite a friend over. The big reveal after a knock at the door shows that the “friend” is actually a life-sized cardboard cutout of Carter from when she was in high school.
“Oh, you brought me flowers, thank you so much,” she says in the video. “You’re such a sweetheart. Besties.”
The co-star came courtesy of her dad, Carter said.
“I had a box my dad mailed me a few weeks ago because he was cleaning out the house and had this box of mementos,” she said.
Carter said she doesn’t go out a whole lot when she’s in the midst of training, but lately she realizes the things she might take for granted. For instance, she said, making a grocery list is now more an exercise in making a wish list because there’s no telling what the stores will have and what they won’t.
For her, making fun videos is just a way to put a smile on people’s faces.
“I think for me I have kind of a very sarcastic, playful personality,” said Carter, a native of Claremont, California. “There’s so much gloom and doom right now that I just want to put out some positivity because if it makes someone laugh while they’re sitting in their house, that’s a good thing.”
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field were set to take place beginning June 19 in Eugene, Oregon. After the International Olympic Committee announced its decision to postpone the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 until the summer of 2021, USA Track & Field announced the postponement of the trials.
Even before both announcements were made official, Carter said, she and some of her teammates had already figured out there was really no way to hold the Olympic Games this year as planned.
“It just made sense logistically,” she said. “The whole concept of the Olympics is to bring every single country together, so as a concept that just wasn’t going to happen. I think athletes are very resilient and we were like, ‘OK, we’re going to take these things as they come.’ Now that we have a date (for the Olympics in 2021) I think we’re all a little more settled. When it was in that limbo area it was hard.”
Like most athletes, Carter is doing what she can to stay active in the meantime. She recently posted that a neighbor of hers who she’d never met before has been letting her work out in her garage.
“My neighbors all take care of each other; they’re the nicest people ever,” she said. “I was talking to another neighbor and said the gym was closed and I’d be hunkering down because of the coronavirus, and she said her son had been lifting at a friend’s house two blocks down, let me text him and see if they’ll let you lift there.
“Now I text (the neighbor) and she opens up the garage and then I wipe everything down and text her when I leave. She’d never met me before but she was like, ‘Come over.’ It was super nice.”
What the rest of the track and field season has in store is anyone’s guess. The first five Diamond League meets have been postponed, meaning the season won’t start until June 7 at the earliest. Carter hasn’t seen her coach in person in over two weeks, which she said is insane to her after daily, sometimes twice-daily meetings.
“I’m just trying to stay fit but it’s hard,” she said. “You don’t want to get in super great shape and not have a race, then when it is race time to have your body on the way down. That’s kind of hard, but everyone’s in the same situation. I feel like we’re all just treading water at this point.”