by Frank Bertucci
PHILADELPHIA - Lauryn Williams, the women's world champion at 100 meters, "The Fastest Woman in the World," has taken her athletic accomplishments step-by-step.
When she was in high school in Rochester, Pa., "I was recruited for college here and there," she said. "It really didn't sink in until one day I realized I was undefeated in high school. I was running to go to college."
That included sweeping the State Class AA (small schools) 100 and 200 dashes as a junior and senior.
In college, at the University of Miami (FL), "I worked as hard as I could because my coach (Amy Deem, who remains her personal coach) believed in me," she said. That included winning the NCAA 100-meter championship as a junior in 2004; that same year, she also won that event at the Penn Relays.
At last summer's World Championship meet in Helsinki Finland, "the Olympics was really my goal, that was gratifying (she won the silver medal in the 100 in Athens in 2004)," she said. "I had to go back to prove I'm legit, like 'Hey, I'm here and I'm going to be around for awhile."
And she proved that when she won the 100 meters in 10.93 seconds, and then anchored the American 4x100-meter relay to another Gold Medal, in 41.78 seconds.
Yes, at 22 years old, a World Champion and Olympic silver medal-winner, Lauryn Williams will be around for awhile.
"Everything's happened very fast," she said. "I never thought about the Olympic Trials or the Olympics, I just wanted to be NCAA champion. Then it was the Olympic Trials and the Olympics.
"I just want to be better each year than the year before. This year I want to run 10.8, next year 10.7, work my time down. The world record? (10.49 by Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988) I don't think about that. I just want to get a PR every year."
Despite her accomplishments, Williams is a newcomer to the Penn Relays. Her high school never came to the meet, so she has performed at Franklin Field only in the last few years. Last year, before she became the No. 1 American sprinter, she ran the second leg on the USA Red team which won the 4x100 USA vs. the World relay.
"It's such a busy atmosphere," she said of the Relays. "When you're used to smaller meets you can get confused.
"But the people actually know you. When I was running the 100 heats for Miami, I could hear someone say, 'That's the girl from Miami, she's really fast.' You don't hear that much at other meets. It's early in the season but it's a good way to get excited about the season."
Williams earned a degree in Finance from Miami in just 3 ½ years. Her first venture into Marketing is promoting her breakfast cereal, Fast Flakes. She appeared on The Today Show earlier this week, and plans on having a special breakfast session with Philadelphia-area high school and grade school students during the Relays.
"Being involved is fun," he said. "The hustle and bustle is interesting. When I was on The Today Show, it was fun seeing how other professionals work."
And on Saturday, April 29, the crowd in Franklin Field will see how Williams works. She expects to run with one of the USA teams in the 4x100 and sprint medley relays. In the latter event, she emphasized that she WILL NOT run the 400-meter leg.
"Never," she said about stepping up in distance. I don't even run many 200s."
Spoken as a true sprinter, and right now the "Fastest Woman in the World."