Struggles

Lauryn Williams

In 2005, Lauryn Williams was the fastest woman in the world. But not every race has been easy for the American. Lauryn has known success and disappointment in the Olympic spotlight. At the 2004 Olympics, she earned the silver medal in the 100 meters, but disaster struck as she competed with her team in the 4x100 meters. We got off to a great start. I saw [my teammate] coming down the straightaway. I turned, I took off, and thought, ‘Hey where is this stick?’ And the next thing I knew, the opportunity had come and gone,” Lauryn recalls. “I just embarrassed our whole country; this is all my fault.” At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Lauryn was given another chance to run the 4x100 meter relay, only to face disqualification again as the baton was dropped when a teammate handed it to her.

“It's a pretty big deal when you're the person that was accountable for the demise of an opportunity not only for us to win a gold medal, but to possibly break a world record because we had two really fast teams both of those years,” she says. “I felt very alone in that moment.”

Lauryn decided to take the 2010 season off and got involved in a Bible study where she was cared for as a person, not only as an athlete. Her life started to change dramatically. In 2012, she was chosen to be a part of the U.S. 4x100 meter relay team. She ran in the preliminary round, but was not selected to run in the final. “I think with my newfound heart for God, I was really looking at things differently. I chose to be a mentor to what was pretty much a brand new team,” she says.

A New Opportunity

Lauryn retired from track & field after the 2012 Olympics, and started training to become a bobsledder the following year. Her speed and strength made her a natural. Within a year, she qualified for the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Games. In Sochi, the team finished .1 seconds slower than the Canadian team, and won the silver medal. “It’s really hard to balance the desire to do your best job and go for the gold but not have the gold be the thing that you’re living for, not be the thing that defines who you are,” Lauryn shares. “And the way I’ve managed it is by knowing the Lord, loving the Lord, knowing that He does not want me to be worshiping a gold medal.”