Danielle Williams is a Jamaican track and field athlete specialising in the sprint hurdles. She is best known for winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships. In addition, she won two medals at Summer Universiades, bronze in 2013 and gold in 2015, and represented her country at the 2013 World Championships.
Williams recently recreated history by striking bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
Women Fitness President joins the exceptional sports star on her journey to success.
You are best known for winning the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships. Walk us through your spectacular journey and how did it all begin?
My journey began at the age of about 6. I was attending preparatory school and my siblings were all doing sports, so naturally I joined as well. Growing up in the Caribbean, in schools we were all sorted in ‘houses’ which we represented at the annual ‘sports day’ activities and so it was then I discovered that I had a bit of speed. I was always winning among my age group at school, but when it came on to participating against other schools at the championships, I wasn’t even making the finals. I wasn’t one of those highly recruited athletes going into high school, so when I got to high school, I joined the track team. I would say my talent was about average among the girls who were in their first year of high school. I wasn’t the fastest, but I wasn’t the slowest either, but my high school coach at the time said that I worked hard, and I was super competitive. It was there I was introduced to the hurdles. I did the hurdles, the 100m and 200m’s, the relays, and even long jump in high school. Over the 7 years I attended high school (2003-2010), I was able to qualify for the renowned Boys and Girls Championships almost every year, and while I managed to advance to the finals in the hurdles and 200m, I never placed better than 5th until my final year in 2010. I look at that year as my breakout year as an athlete. I went into champs and won the Class 2 girls 100m hurdles and the 100m dash and my relay team got the bronze medal. That same year I made my first Carifta team, as well as CAC and World Junior teams. I went to the World Junior Championships in Canada virtually unknown and came out with a 4th place finish, beaten out of the medals by 1000th of a second. That became the fuel to my collegiate career. My performance at World Junior’s garnered the attention of a few Division 1 American colleges but I had already committed to a small Division 2 school in North Carolina.
The coach was a Jamaican who had coached at the high school level and had coached my sister in high school, and he had moved on to coach in the collegiate system. Under his tutelage, I was able to dominate at the Division 2 level, becoming a 19 time All-American and winning multiple national titles. In 2013, after being injured the entire 2012 season, I won the Jamaican national championships and participated in my first World Championships in Moscow. That experience served as the catalyst for my professional career. The competitor in me loved to be on that level competing with the best athletes in the world and I knew that was the path I wanted to take. In 2014, after I completed my collegiate career, I signed a professional contract with Adidas and began preparing for my second world championships. 2015 was my first year as a professional athlete and I was taking it all in stride, learning as much as I could and working to perfect my craft.
You recently placed 3rd at the 2019 World Championships, your say after this incredible win?
I thank God for allowing me to medal. So many athletes entered the championships and left without a medal, and for me to win a second world championships medal in my short career was a wonderful feeling. It was an especially great feeling after all I had endured in the season. In January I didn’t even know I would be on the podium after suffering a serious ankle injury in November, but it took a lot of faith, perseverance and hard work, and I was extremely satisfied with myself.
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