CORAL GABLES, Fla. – After overcoming obstacles during training, Lauryn Williams’ first Olympic bobsled run is less than a day away.
The former Miami track and field superstar and two-time Olympic medalist will push USA-1, piloted by teammate Elana Meyers, down the track at the Sanki Sliding Center on Tuesday. Women’s bobsled is scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. ET.
The American duo raced once together during the World Cup season, placing fourth in Lake Placid. Williams’ elite explosiveness helped her earn a spot in the top sled. Many expected Williams and Meyers to build a rapport during training runs in Sochi, but that has been challenging.
“I’ve only been in the sport for six months, so I’m making sure that everything I do is at 200 percent to make up for the time,” Williams said following her final training runs. “Elana and I feel confident heading into the race, regardless of everything that’s happened these last few days, and we’re really excited.”
Williams was off on the first day of training runs and Meyers crashed on her first run down the Sanki track. On Day 2, Williams pulled the brake too late after the finish line and the sled crashed into a way and experienced enough damage that it could not run again without repairs.
The tandem finally got through a complete day of training runs on Sunday, their final opportunity before Tuesday’s competition begins. They had the fastest time in the first training run (57.92) and the fifth-fastest time in the second run (58.51).
“Me and Lauryn have limited sliding time together so we definitely wanted to work our timing there,” Meyers told USA TODAY. “Our timing is there, and I’m very confident in the push and I was able to fix some things in the drive. I still have some things to work on, but I’m very confident that we’ll be ready to roll for race day.”
Williams has plenty of Olympic experience, participating in three summer games as a sprinter. A 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 4×100 relay, Williams has climbed from raw novice to the top sled in the United States in just six months.
“It’s a pleasure and honor for them to have that much faith in me after just six months of the sport,” Williams told USA TODAY. “I know she’s taking a chance on me. The coaches are taking a chance on me. I plan to rise to the occasion.”
While Williams has been humble about her rapid rise in bobsled, Meyers gives credit to the world-class sprinter turned push athlete.
“It’s not really taking a chance when you’ve got one of the fastest women in the world behind you,” Meyers told USA TODAY.
The former University of Miami track and field superstar aims to become the fifth Olympian to medal in both a Summer and Winter Olympics.
If history is a good indicator, Williams will have a good chance to earn that distinction as the U.S. women have won a medal in every Olympic Winter Games since the sport was introduced in 2002. Add in the fact that Meyers drove to either gold or silver medals in seven of eight World Cup races this season and you can see that the American duo forms a formidable tandem.
If Williams wins in Sochi, she’ll be the first woman to take gold in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Eddie Eagan is the only American athlete to win gold in both Summer and Winter Olympics, reaching the top of the podium for boxing in 1920 and as a member of the U.S. four-man bobsled team in 1932.
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 her gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, Williams earned a silver medal in the 100m at the 2004 Olympics. Williams is also a three-time gold medalist at the World Championships and won the NCAA Championship in the 100m in 2004.
SOURCE: Miami Athletics