Williams Takes Silver in Women’s Bobsled
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Lauryn Williams entered Wednesday as one of the top women’s bobsledders in the world. Two runs later, she was a silver medalist.
First on the track in Heat 3, Williams and USA-1 tied the start record they set a Tuesday with a 5.12-second start. The Americans finished the heat in 57.69 seconds, bringing their total time to 2:52.58. Heading into the final heat, USA-1 held a 0.11-second lead over the second place Canadians, who put together the fastest run of Heat 3 (57.57 seconds).
The Americans had a tough time in their final run of the 2014 Sochi Games, finishing in 58.13 seconds. Williams and driver Elana Meyers would finish 0.21 seconds behind the Canadians in Heat 4. USA-1 amassed a combined time of 3:50.71, 0.10 seconds behind gold medalists Kallie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Canada.
"I fought every single second down the track and Lauryn really dug it out at the start," Meyers said after Wednesday’s races. "We gave everything we had and left it all out there. That's really what it's about, it's about going out there and giving everything you can to fight for your country. We couldn't be happier with that, and hopefully America will forgive me for letting gold slip away."
The U.S. is the only nation to medal in every women's bobsled Olympic event since the discipline made its debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
With the silver medal, Williams became the fifth Olympian to medal in both a Summer and Winter Olympics. The former University of Miami track and field superstar now claims three Olympic medals: a silver in women’s bobsled, a gold in 4x100m relay from 2012 and a silver in the 100m in 2004.
"I didn't come here to make history," Williams said after Wednesday’s races. "I came here to help Team USA, and I feel like I did the best I could. I'm just happy to be here, and it wasn't about history for me."
Amy Deem has coached Williams since her time at Miami. The two remain close friends and Deem has followed her prized pupil’s meteoric rise to the top of women’s bobsledding.
“I am extremely excited for Lauryn,” Deem said. “To go there and accomplish what she did is a true testament to the type of person and competitor that she is.”
Miami’s director of track and field/cross country has been texting Williams throughout her transition from the track to bobsledding and sent her a message just after Williams’ final run in Sochi that read, “Enjoy your moment. You are one of a kind and inspiration to so many people.”
Fellow track athlete turned bobsled push athlete Lolo Jones helped get Williams to make the transition from the track to the ice. Jones was emotional after watching Williams make history.
"I feel like I am in the presence of Jesse Owens when I look at Lauryn Williams," Jones said following the conclusion on the women’s bobsled event. "I was so emotionally choked up. She just broke history, and I can't believe it. It's just awesome. I hope she's a household name when we get home, because it's just the most brilliant thing I've ever watched."
Williams’ path to a silver medal began at 10:17 a.m. ET Tuesday when she officially became the ninth American to compete in different sports in the Summer and Winter Olympics.
By 10:18 a.m. ET, Williams and Meyers’ first run in USA-1 was over and the duo set a new track record, finishing in 57.26 seconds. Williams, who picked up bobsled in July, set a record with her 5.13-second start time.
Williams picked up where she left off in Heat 2, besting her previous start record with a 5.12-second start time. Meyers then piloted USA-1 down the track for a heat-best time of 57.63 seconds. The three-time Summer Olympian admitted to being nervous for her Winter Olympics debut, though the results certainly did not show it.
"The nerves took me over all day long, and I got on that line and I felt like I was literally going to jump out of my skin," Williams said after Day 1’s races. "That's a good feeling and how I felt in track and field, and I know what that means, it means going fast."
At the end of Day 1 of women’s bobsled competition, Williams and USA-1 sit atop the leaderboard with a time of 1:54.89. They hold a 0.23-second lead over Canada-1 and USA-2 sits in third place, 0.56 seconds behind the leading duo of Williams and Meyers.
"I never imagined I'd be here six months ago, but here I am," Williams said after Day 1’s races. "I had no expectations coming into this and it's always about helping first, and then everything you get to enjoy along way is just extra. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and if I'm a part of history, that's really cool, but the main thing is to help Elana get to the bottom as fast as possible"
The first former Miami student-athlete to qualify for a Winter Olympics, Williams is the second Hurricane to participate in four Olympics, joining diver Jose “Chemi” Gil. Beyond three Olympic medals, Williams is also a three-time gold medalist at the World Championships and won the NCAA Championship in the 100m in 2004.
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