Let's Learn From the Past: Lauryn Williams

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After excelling as a sprinter on Team USA's track and field squad during the past three Summer Olympic Games, Pittsburgh native Lauryn Williams made history in Sochi, Russia, this month as a member of the U.S. women's bobsled team.

Williams was born in Rochester, Pa., on Sept. 11, 1983. While attending Rochester High School, Williams set Pennsylvania state records in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints and was state champion in the 4x100 relay.

She earned a scholarship to the University of Miami, where she continued her dominance and became the 2004 NCAA 100-meter national champion. She made her international debut in 2002 when she won gold for the 100-meter relay at the World Junior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica.

During the summer of 2004, Williams brought her talents to a larger stage when she earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. She won a silver medal in the 100-meter event in Athens.

In 2008, Williams returned to the Olympics in Beijing. She competed in the 4x100-meter relay with teammate Torri Edwards, but their exchange did not go according to plan, and Edwards dropped the baton. Despite the setback, Williams did not give up and finished the race, knowing that her team was assured of last place.

Williams qualified for the Olympics again in 2012. She ran the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter relay for Team USA, which won a gold medal and set a world record with a time of 40.82 seconds.

Following the 2012 Summer Games, an injury prompted Williams' retirement from track and field. However, an unexpected encounter with fellow Olympian Lolo Jones put Williams back in the Games, but this time in a different event.

Williams became the ninth athlete in the history of the USA Olympic Team to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. She serves as the "brakeman" in the two-woman tandem bobsled with teammate Elana Myers.

On Wednesday, Williams helped push the USA-1 sled to win a silver medal, becoming just the fifth Olympic athlete ever to medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Visitors to the Heinz History Center can see Williams' University of Miami spikes and singlet from her NCAA championship 100-meter sprint and learn more about Pittsburgh's Olympic connections at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.

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