A gold medallist in the women’s 4x100m relay at London 2012 and runner-up in the women’s two-man bobsleigh at Sochi 2014, Lauryn Williams is one of an elite group of athletes to have appeared on the podium at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
A native of Pennsylvania (USA), Lauryn Williams showed great initial promise in track and field, particularly in the 100m, 200m and long jump, for which she holds the records at her high school to this day. While at the University of Miami, she developed into a top-class athlete, winning the 100m at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships in Kingston (JAM) in a time of 11.33 seconds. At the age of 20, she qualified for the Athens Games in 2004 by finishing 1/100th of a second behind sprinting superstar Gail Devers in the US trials.
On 21 August 2004, Williams won a silver medal in the 100m, recording an impressive 10.96 to follow Yulia Nesterenko (BLR) over the line. At the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, the American sprinter prevailed in both the individual 100m and women’s 4x100m relay. Two years later at the 2007 Worlds in Osaka, she claimed another relay gold, a feat she then repeated at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, although she was not part of the quartet that ran in the final.
In the summer of 2013, injury forced Williams to bring the curtain down on her athletics career having achieved personal bests of personal bests of 10.88 in the 100m and 22.27 over 200m.
A subsequent discussion with Lolo Jones, who had made headlines by joining the US national bobsleigh team while still a 100m hurdles star, convinced her to take part in the National Push Championships in Calgary. She duly excelled, opening the door to a new Olympic adventure.
Following a marvellous FIBT World Cup campaign and just six months of training as a brakeman, Williams was selected to compete at the Sochi Games. In the two-woman event, held on 18 and 19 February 2014, she and Elana Meyers excelled in the USA-1 sled at the Sanki Sliding Centre, beating the push record three times and clinching a remarkable second spot behind defending champions Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyes (CAN), after coming very close to gold.
That result sealed Williams’ place in history as only the fifth athlete, and the first American woman, to land medals at both the Summer and Winter Games. And she hints that her exploits on the ice are only just beginning. “Bobsleigh is now my family,” says the multi-talented sportswoman.
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