Once every two years, the greatest athletes from around the world represent their countries with pride and compete to etch their names in the history books. This massive event is truly a spectacle, and there may be no one better equipped to break down what it takes and what the stage feels like more than AAU alum Lauryn Williams.
As one of only five athletes, and the first woman, to take home hardware in both winter (bobsledding) and summer (sprinting) events, Williams can provide unparalleled advice and knowledge on the topic.
Our friends at Eastbay sat down with the legendary competitor to hear all about her experiences on the global stage.
Q: When you look back at your career, were there any moments that really stood out?
A: “I would say in 2012, when I did my part to help the 4×100 relay team win gold and break the world record. I was part of the qualifying relay, but wasn’t chosen to participate in the finals. You would think that would be a negative experience for me, but it was kind of that redeeming moment that I realized in bobsled later: it’s bigger than me.
It’s really all about the team. Sometimes you’ve got to play a supporting role. You can give your teammates wisdom, advice, and support. You can talk to your other teammates and make sure they have everything they need.
You’ve got to understand that your actual performance may not be what’s best for the team, but there are still things you need to contribute that are going to be integral to the team’s success. I felt so much satisfaction when they got around the track and I realized I had done my part.”
Q: Did you have a moment early on in your career where you realized ‘yes, I’m good enough to compete at the highest of levels?’
A: “I don’t think I necessarily did. For me, it was a constant thing that was always popping up in my head. As I built up confidence from high school to college to the pros, I was working to create that mindset that I was good enough. It was all about giving myself positive self-talk.”
Q: Take us back to those medal ceremonies – what’s it like up there with the National Anthem playing and millions of fans looking on?
A: “It’s incredibly cool and kind of cliché to say, but there’s no real way to describe what that feels like. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that all these accomplishments and ceremonies are just moments – the whole sum is what matters the most. These are all just chapters that you’re adding to in your life. You think about all the buildup, all the practices… that’s really what that moment is about. So it’s cool to stand there on the podium and hear that anthem, and you appreciate it, but you realize that it’s part of a bigger picture.”
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