Lauryn Williams was seeking to retain her 100m title at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. Yet in one of the closest 100m finals in history, the diminutive US sprinter just missed out on gold by a fraction.
“Leading into the 2007 World Championships in Osaka I’d had quite a few injury issues. I’d missed quite a bit of the 2006 season with a hamstring problem and even though I went to see several different specialists they couldn’t diagnose the problem. It was strange in that some days I was in excruciating pain while on other days I could complete a workout, only to be unable to walk a couple of hours later. In 2007 I received some treatment and the problem improved only for it to head in the wrong direction again. I competed at the US Championships with no clue as to what was about to happen, although, fortunately, I qualified for Osaka (Williams finished second in the 100m final behind Torri Edwards).
“Even after I qualified the injury – which was like a tingling sensation down the leg – persisted. It sent waves of pain through the rest of my body and would shoot up and down the leg. Just seven days out before the World Championships I considered pulling out because I thought, what if I wake up on the morning of the race and can’t run? But after some consideration I decided to run. I thought I had earned my position on the team. I was training in Osaka and I had to have faith that I could defend my title.
“I managed to reach the final without any major dramas and once on the start line with the seven other girls in the final, I was in the race to win.
“I don’t have too many memories of the race, but that is not unusual for me. I never really ran throughout my career with any real awareness. So, when I crossed the finish line I did not know where I had finished. (Note, in an incredibly close final Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and Lauryn Williams were awarded the same time of 11.01 with Carmelita Jeter 0.01 further back in third). At first Veronica’s name flashed up on the scoreboard and then my name went up as the winner for about two minutes before switching back to Veronica. We then had to wait about 30 minutes following the protests for Veronica to be confirmed as the gold medallist.
“It is hard to describe my emotions at that time. My mind was swirling and whirling. At first it was like I was second and then, wow, I’ve pulled this off to no, I didn’t. Well, at least I got a medal.
“I think that moment for me was more about what I’d conquered all season long to reach that point. In that moment, I did not feel it was about the winning or losing and, for me, that is one of the greatest experiences you can have as an athlete. We often remind ourselves of the importance of winning, but at the time, even though there was a lot of hullabaloo and controversy surrounding the result, because of the season that I endured I had won that day.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF