Lauryn Williams joins top U.S. bobsled team

Rochester native gets shot at rare opportunity after being selected for USA-1


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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Lauryn Williams thought about quitting bobsledding after her very first ride four months ago.

The Rochester native stuck around, and another Olympic medal could be her reward.

Williams' improbable story grew Saturday when she was selected to push the USA-1 sled driven by Elana Meyers at the Sochi Olympics. That decision legitimizes her chance of becoming only the second person to win gold in two sports at the summer and winter games, after she helped the U.S. win the 4x100-meter relay two years ago at the London Games.

"Incredible," U.S. coach Todd Hays said after the decisions were made. "I would have bet anybody any amount of money that no person could walk on this team as a rookie and make the team, let alone actually be in USA-1. But you look at Lauryn's resume and it tells you what type of athlete she is. She's one of the greatest U.S. sprinters of all time, incredibly talented, incredibly powerful with an incredible work ethic."

Lolo Jones, another track Olympian-turned-bobsledder, and the person who recruited Williams to sliding, will push the USA-3 sled driven by Jazmine Fenlator of Wayne, N.J. In USA-2, it's Jamie Greubel of Newtown, Pa., driving with brakeman Aja Evans of Chicago.

Jones, of Des Moines, Iowa, and Williams will be the ninth and 10th Americans to compete in the summer and winter Olympics.

"I came here to help this team, and wherever the coaches think is the best place for me to help is where I'm going to be," Williams said before the pairings were known. "And I'm going to push as hard as I can. ... I'm excited. I love everyone on this team and I'm going to do the best job that I can."

Meyers, from Douglasville, Ga., drove to gold or silver medals in seven of the eight World Cup races this season, finishing one point behind Kaillie Humphries of Canada in the season-long standings. Meyers and Williams were paired together once, earning silver.

Greubel and Evans also raced together once this season, finishing fourth.

"We have three great brakemen. That's the best-case scenario," Meyers said.

Williams being in USA-1 for the women's race will surely raise eyebrows. She was going to be a financial planner a few months ago before deciding almost on a whim to go to Lake Placid, N.Y., to see what bobsledding was about.

It's now within the realm of possibility she can join Eddie Eagan, an American who won gold as a boxer at the 1920 Summer Olympics, then as a bobsledder at the 1932 Winter Olympics, on one of the elite Olympic lists.

"You combine that everything she is together, and you find a girl who can make herself great at just about anything," Hays said.


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