Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams retires from bobsled

Feb. 12, 2015, 5:12 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams retires from bobsled

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Feb. 12, 2015)- Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.), one of only five people to medal in different sports at the Summer and Winter Olympics, announced today that she is retiring from the sport of bobsled. Williams deliberated retirement following her silver medal performance at the Sochi Games in the women’s bobsled event with driver Elana Meyers Taylor, but she opted to return for a portion of the 2014-2015 season. She returned in dominant fashion by winning the national push championship title, and helped Team USA earn two World Cup medals in three of the four competitions she competed in.

“I spent a lot of time going back and forth about whether do another season,” Williams said. “As an athlete I am exhausted having done sports since age nine and competing professionally for the last 10 years. Yet, I fell in love with bobsled after just six months and wish I had found it sooner. It really poured a refreshing sense of life into my heart, which was just what I needed at this point in my life.”

Williams had an illustrious athletic college career at the University at Miami, but it wasn’t until she became the 2004 NCAA Champion in the 100-meters that Williams even considered her future as an Olympian. She went on to become a two-time track and field Olympic medalist, winning the 2004 Olympic silver medal in the 100-meters and the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay.

Weeks after Williams announced her retirement from track and field in the summer of 2013, she discovered the sport of bobsled through a conversation with track and field teammate Lolo Jones. Jones joined the bobsled team after competing in the London Games, and she encouraged Williams to give the winter sport a try.

“I was finishing up my track career and trying to figure out what to do next when I heard about bobsled,” Williams said. “I knew it was the Olympic year, but I showed up with no expectations other than wanting to give it a try. I knew I could be on my way back home in a week if I wasn't good at it or if it wasn't good fit for me, but it was the perfect fit.”

Less than a week after touching a sled for the first time, Williams finished third at national push championships. She was invited to the national team camp in August 2013, and Williams immediately blended into the team and helped foster a positive, upbeat environment with her enthusiasm.

“Lauryn has been a great asset for the team, both on and off the track,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “Her athletic ability is well known, but her positive energy and generous spirit helped build the kind of team culture that has led to the success we see today.”

Williams admits that she almost quit after her first bobsled ride in October 2013, but she stuck with it and helped propel the team to three World Cup medal performances leading up to the Sochi Games. She said she learned some important lessons in her first season, and not all of them were about how to push a sled.

“Sports teach you life skills, there is not doubt about it, and I learned many from track,” Williams said. “There is one major skill I was lacking that bobsled gave me a major dose of, and that’s selflessness. The humble way everyone was willing to help everyone was truly eye opening. In bobsled we are a family. There was a sense of community at all levels that I had never felt before.”

Williams was selected as Meyers Taylor’s Olympic push athlete, and the duo claimed the 2014 Olympic silver medal together. Williams became only the fifth person ever to win a medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and is the first American woman to ever accomplish the feat. Jones, who was also named to the Olympic team, later told media that she felt like she was in the presence of Jesse Owens.

“When I looked at Lauryn Williams come out of that sled, I felt so emotionally choked up,” Jones said.

Amid the admiration, Williams remained humble and talked about what an honor it was to race for Team USA. She credited her teammates for her success in the sport, and reiterated that she “just wants to help the team.”

“It’s not about the medal,” Williams said after her final Olympic run. “I don’t need something I can hold in my hand, I’ve got this incredible experience and teammates that will be my friends for life.”

She hinted then that she may not return to competition, but hopes were high when she suited up as a member of the 2014-2015 national team. After helping the squad hoist the American flag to the top of the podium, something else was tugging at Williams’ heart. She said she’s toyed with the idea of utilizing her finance degree to help athletes with financial planning, but she said she’s also interested in nutrition.

“Showing people that health food can taste good is something I love doing,” Williams said. “Good nutrition is so important for performance in daily life and as an athlete, and eating right can be the best medicine preventing all types of ailments for years to come.”

Williams used her passion for cooking to surprise the team while staying at the Hotel Fischer in Koenigssee, Germany a few weeks ago. Williams joined the kitchen staff one evening to prepare dinner for her teammates.

While Williams’ next step in life is still uncertain, her place in the Olympic history books is indelible.

“We hate to lose her, but we respect her decision to move on and wish her all the best in the next chapter of her life,” Steele said.

Get updates on the team as they race around the world by following USA Bobsled & Skeleton on Facebook, USBSF on Twitter and USABS on Instagram. Media questions can be directed to Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com or 518-354-2250.

About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Park City Lodging, Inc., Classroom Champions, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at www.usbsf.com.