After her runnerup finish in Oslo’s Bislett Games, at the TDK Golden League meeting less than two weeks ago, 100m Olympic silver medallist Lauryn Williams spoke frankly about her post-Olympic campaign.
“It’s not as great as I thought it would be,” she said.
At the time, she notched just one win in eight races. After her 10.93 win at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium on Monday night (8), those previous outings were all but forgotten.
Infectiously enthusiastic, bubbly character
“I definitely feel differently now!” the bubbly sprinter said, exuding an enthusiasm as infectious as her ear-to-ear grin. “I made a huge comeback and I was never counting myself out and never putting any limits on what I could do. I was excited, I still knew what I was capable of and this was a big turnaround for what’s been going on so far this year.”
Others were counting her out, though. At the U.S. championships in late June, Williams finished third with a modest 11.29 performance, qualifying for the Helsinki squad by a scant two one-hundredths of a second. Leading towards Helsinki, the pre-meet conventional wisdom favoured Christine Arron of France, Olympic bronze medallist Veronica Campbell of Jamaica and world leader Chandra Sturrup. In the end though, it was the new generation prevailing yet again this season, with Campbell second in 10.95 and Arron third in 10.98.
“I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to win. I went out there expecting to do my best. And whatever my best was, hopefully it was going to be gold. And today it was.”
When she reached the line, Williams said she wasn’t immediately sure that the title was hers.
“It took a few seconds I think,” she said, laughing. “I definitely didn’t want to run across the finish line with my hands up or anything like that. I wanted to know for sure.”
Although she improved her personal best to 10.91 (+1.9 wind) with her runner-up finish at Lausanne's Super Grand Prix, Williams struggled all season to improve her race consistency. It came, she said, at just the right time.
Found her race rhythm in Norway
“The whole race, finally, went well.” she said. “Usually I have a good start or a good finish, one or the other. But I think I put the whole thing together so that’s why I was able to get to the finish line first. If I could put the whole race together every time I’d be a lot better off.”
What was particularly helpful since her last outing, an 11.16 clocking in Oslo, was finding her race rhythm in a multi-round competition.
“I think that’s where I built my confidence, and sometimes it’s better with the rounds. I think that was the biggest adjustment from just running one race in most of the meets in Europe. So getting back to the rounds was a really good thing for me.”
Better than Athens
Comparing her performance to her race in Athens last summer, Williams, with another wide grin, said she preferred this one.
“I think it was a better race. It was sort of the same group of people, but I put more weight on this race. And the Athens silver medal was good, but this one’s better.”
Despite her experience on the world’s biggest stage last year, Williams admitted the presence of significant jitters on the starting line.
“Oh, very nervous. Very nervous,” she said. “Because there were a lot of great people in the field. All eight actually. I didn’t put anything past anyone of them. I didn’t count anyone out.”
Can she go faster? Williams believes so, but give her some time.
“I’m just getting started,” she said. “I’m only 21 still!”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF