Wednesday, 20 January 2016

GIRL TO WATCH: Getting to know sprint hurdler and rising star Danielle Williams

RISE & SHINE: The sprint hurdler, 22, has set her sights on bringing home the gold from Rio this summer.

Copping the well-deserved runner-up prize to Sportswoman of the Year at the 55th National Sports Awards on Friday night in Kingston was icing on the cake for 22-year-old speedster Danielle Williams, who claimed the gold medal in the 100M hurdles finals at the Beijing World Championships last summer. That was only the beginning. Now she’s ready for more. An equally talented and ambitious young lady who prefers to keep a low profile and let her running do the talking, Williams (our pick for the girl to watch in 2016) chatted briefly with TALLAWAH at the ceremony.

For Williams, those moments just before the start of a big race are crucial, calling for the highest levels of focus and concentration. “In my mind I was reflecting on all the things that my coach kept reminding me of while I was warming up. All the things I needed to do to execute a near-perfect race,” recalls the soft-spoken athlete, telling TALLAWAH about that 100M hurdles finals in Beijing. As for any post-race feelings, she remembers, “I was just surprised and happy and thankful that I won.”

Williams seems to have a genuine love for the hard work it takes to maintain a spot among the world’s best track-and-field talents. “Preparing for the Jamaica Trials,” she tells us, “I worked extremely hard. It was tough. And even leading up to the championships I kept up the hard work because I knew the rewards would be great.”

And that’s precisely the kind of advice she wants to impart to other young Jamaican women who admire her and have set their sights on ascending to her level in the world of athletics or in their respective fields. “Keep doing what you’re doing if it’s something that you truly love,” shares the Queen’s High alumna, now based in North Carolina. “Consistent and persistent effort will pay off big time.” What keeps Danielle motivated to surpass people’s expectations of her – and her own – is her firm belief in a Higher Power. “My talent comes from God. God is my guide and I thank him for this talent and my ability to perform the way I do.”

Williams, who likes to curl up with a good book and is a TV buff at home, says the preparations she’s making to deliver a golden run at this summer’s hotly anticipated Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are progressing steadily with pleasing results. “I’m happy with how it’s been going so far. I’m just looking forward to competing. Competing hard and competing well,” she says. Of course, we expect nothing less. Poised to join the ranks of Bolt, VCB and the Pocket Rocket, all eyes will be on D-Willz as the countdown to the big bash in Rio gains serious momentum.

> GOOD SPORTS: The 5 Best Moments at the 2015 National Sports Awards

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