ATHLETE WELFARE & PREPARATION FUND

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

Tokyo 2020 #1YearToGo

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Lau­ryn Williams breathed a new life in­to the con­fer­ence room at the T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) House on Aber­crom­by Street in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day as she did on the track in win­ning a num­ber of Olympic medals.

The Amer­i­can sprint­er and bob­sled­der held the at­ten­tion of a var­ied group of in­di­vid­u­als, hav­ing an open con­ver­sa­tion with ath­letes, coach­es, par­ents, TTOC of­fi­cials and the me­dia, delv­ing in­to every as­pect of her pro­fes­sion­al life on and off the track and what brought her to the coun­try of her fa­ther's birth, T&T. David Williams was born in Char­lot­teville, To­ba­go.

William brought pow­er­ful mes­sages on a num­ber of top­ics in­clud­ing the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion, the prop­er use of tech­nol­o­gy and so­cial me­dia, re­la­tion­ships, avoid­ing dis­trac­tions, hav­ing prop­er nu­tri­tion, bal­anc­ing one's ca­reer, en­joy­ing the highs and over­com­ing the lows and of course life af­ter track and in her case specif­i­cal­ly, bob­sled­ding.

"My mot­to is hard work knows no lim­its," said Williams. "The idea is work hard to­wards a goal and doors will open for you. Be your best self."

Sim­ple words were spo­ken by one of the world's most tal­ent­ed ath­lete whose ca­reer spanned 10 years. With­in that time Williams won the gold medal in the 100-me­tre dash at the 2005 World Cham­pi­onships in Ath­let­ics and won sil­ver medals at the 2004 Sum­mer Olympics, 2007 World Cham­pi­onships, and 2006 IAAF World In­door Cham­pi­onships. She won a sil­ver medal in the two-woman bob­sleigh at the 2014 Win­ter Olympics.

Williams is one of five ath­letes to have won a medal in both the Sum­mer and Win­ter Olympic games, as well as the first Amer­i­can woman to do so.

Williams was a World ju­nior cham­pi­on in 2002, she went on to win the 100m at the 2003 Pan Amer­i­can Games and claimed the NCAA ti­tle over the dis­tance for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mi­a­mi the fol­low­ing year. She has al­so fea­tured as part of the Amer­i­can 4×100m re­lay team, win­ning gold medals at the 2005 and 2007 World Cham­pi­onships and at the 2012 Sum­mer Olympics.

Great suc­cess for an ath­lete com­ing from mod­est be­gin­nings as Williams shared that she can re­late to some of the is­sues faced by lo­cal ath­letes.

"You start to build on a set of val­ues. Stop fo­cus­ing on the ob­sta­cles, go to op­por­tu­ni­ties.

"In Amer­i­ca, I didn't have more re­sources than you guys have here in Trinidad," said Williams, speak­ing di­rect­ly to some ath­letes of the Cougars Track and Field Club present in­clud­ing Carif­ta Games-bound Shani­qua Bas­combe. "I start­ed ini­tial­ly run­ning club track, age-group track. Peo­ple would do­nate their old shoes for me to have a pair of shoes to run in. You get to the track and run in what­ev­er you have, some­times it was a bas­ket­ball shoe on the track. I didn't have. You start from noth­ing but you have to use what you have in­side of you and that what dri­ves you ini­tial­ly, to get go­ing."

TTOC pres­i­dent Bri­an Lewis opened the dis­cus­sion and shared that his or­gan­i­sa­tion en­cour­aged Williams to come T&T to help boost this coun­try's ath­letes.

"The pro­gramme is called Thrive Team TTO or Team TTO Thrive and what this pro­gramme will do is of­fer to young ath­letes, who want to do it, the op­por­tu­ni­ty to de­vel­op the busi­ness of them­selves and to be en­tre­pre­neur­ial," said Lewis, who in­formed all that more in­for­ma­tion will be avail­able soon.

He said she had a chance to speak to some of the young ath­letes who will be com­pet­ing at the Carif­ta Games on the week­end in the Cay­man Is­lands. Hope­ful­ly, her ad­vice will in­spire them as they will take on some of the best track and field ath­letes in the re­gion.

"In­stead of fo­cus­ing on the ob­sta­cles and what is not avail­able, you need to fo­cus on what you do have and what you do have is al­ready in­side of us so even if you go on the track bare­foot does not mean that you can't suc­ceed," said Williams, who stud­ied at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mi­a­mi earn­ing a bach­e­lors de­gree in Fi­nance and lat­er on got her MBA in Busi­ness which she used to start her fi­nan­cial busi­ness.

"You have the abil­i­ty to ed­u­cate your­self. That was some­thing my par­ents drilled in­to me from day one. Any­thing you want to achieve you can find with the right in­for­ma­tion. Li­braries give the books to you for free so you don't have any ex­cus­es. The in­ter­net is a world of in­for­ma­tion and it's all that you choose to use it for.

"Use the tech­nol­o­gy that is avail­able to teach your­self," said Williams, who has made it her mis­sion to give back to her peers in a pos­i­tive way and have a mean­ing­ful im­pact on peo­ple's lives.

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