Even though Lauryn Williams said she’s not sure she ever really found her groove in bobsled, results would beg to differ. Last week at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Williams won a silver medal in the two-woman bobsled with Elana Meyers, becoming the first U.S. woman and fifth athlete in history to win medals at both the summer and winter games.
“I’m grateful to have attained such an accomplishment because seven months ago, I never thought I would be competing in the Winter Olympics, let alone return as a silver medalist,” said Williams, 30, who won a silver medal in the 100-meter at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and gold in the 4×100 relay in 2012 in London.
“Personally, my wins mean less in terms of my athletic career and more about the life lessons this experience has taught me,” said Williams. “One, you can’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Two, if you want something, you have to get up each morning and go after it; when you do, doors will open for you and your dreams will come true.”
Having competed in relay races in track and field helped her understand how to work with a teammate. Williams, the brake woman, and Meyers, the driver, did a lot of drills as well as simple things such as dressing alike to get in sync. They marched in the opening ceremony, and Williams soaked up the entire experience in Sochi.
Their BMW-engineered bobsled can reach speeds greater than 120 mph. “Going down the track in a sled is like riding a roller coaster, multiplied times 10, with no seat belts,” said Williams. “It is intense.”
In all likelihood, Sochi marks the end of Williams’ athletic career, as she retired from track last June. She leaves honored to be part of history.
“I find my greatest sense of pride lies in the fact that this accomplishment means a lot to a lot of people,” she said. “In this group sport, any medals won were a victory for [our team] and the country. So while I did it, we did it, and that’s my greatest source of pride.”