PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Lauryn Williams wears her silver and gold Olympic medals proudly.
The Rochester native is only the second woman in history to win medals in both the Summer and Winter Games. But surprisingly, winning medals was not her top priority.
“It was never really about the pursuit of the medals it was the pursuit of being the best I could and enjoying the journey,” says Williams.
The journey started at a young age when she realized she could run. Not just fast, but super-fast.
“My dad loves to tell the story of me being at the Carnegie Science Center and racing off the Flo Jo hologram and staying out there until I beat it,” Williams says.
She went on to compete at Rochester High School where she won the state championship in 100 and 200 meter dashes. But the dream of running in the Olympics came when she reached the University of Miami on a four-year scholarship.
“My junior year, I won the hundred meters for the NCAAs and I also ran the second fastest time in the world,” said Williams. “It just happened to be 2004, and that’s when I turned my focus to Olympic thinking.”
From 2003 to 20112, Williams had a spectacular career in track and field – winning a gold medal in 2012 at the London Games and winning other events around the world.
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But it could not have happened without the support of Rochester and Beaver County.
“Everyone’s been so supportive all the years, making sure I reach this journey sending messages along the way and really rooting for me,” she said of her support system.
After retiring from track and field, she sought a new challenge – bobsledding.
“First thing you have to do is try, you can’t fail unless you give it a try,” said Williams. “So yeah, I showed up. The rest is history.”
It only took six months of training for Williams to make the United States bobsledding team. Her job was to push the sled using her power and speed.
“It’s really a cool thing and it’s also a very hard thing to manage,” said Williams. “You’re very nervous every time you are in that sled because your head is down, you don’t know what’s going to happen. The possibility of crashing is real.”
Williams and her partner finished second, winning the silver medal. Despite not winning gold, she says she learned something she wants to pass on to others.
“You can do anything you want to as long as you are working hard towards that goal,” Williams said.