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Lauryn Williams

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I'm departing from my usual writing style today and getting serious. I want to introduce you to a former student of mine, Lauryn Williams. You may know her as the World's Fastest Woman or the two-time Olympian US track star that won a silver medal four years ago. Lauryn is in Beijing now preparing to go for the gold for a second time. I'm not going to list all her athletic accomplishments because they are numerous and you can Google her to discover them. I want you to know the Lauryn I know, the 5'3" dynamo with the huge heart and the infectious smile.

Lauryn grew up in tiny Rochester, PA, and went to a K-12, one building school. She was well liked by faculty and students alike. She and her long-time friend, Devan, have great stories to tell of their adventures together. Although, knowing those two, I doubt they'll share all of them! I think everyone suspected Lauryn was on a journey to greatness. Splitting her time between her divorced parents, mom in Detroit and dad in Rochester, was probably difficult at times, but Lauryn seems to thrive when the pressure is on.

After graduating from high school, Lauryn continued her education at the University of Miami, earning a major in finance in 3 1/2 years. All through her schooling, Lauryn set and broke track records at both competitive levels.

Living in Miami after turning pro, Lauryn volunteers her off-track time to hearing impaired students, the homeless, and at-risk kids. To those who know her, it's no surprise that she donates her time to help others. It's amazing to us that she can make the time given her busy schedule. She is also part of the USA Track and Field's "Be a Champion" community outreach program. The Lauryn Williams Dynamic Female Athlete Scholarship funds young women of academic and athletic excellence. In 2006, Lauryn was given the Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year Award.

Lauryn sports a Mickey Mouse tattoo, loves her Great Dane, and calls her best friend's dad "Poppy". For all her fame, she is totally unassuming and down-to-earth. She blogs to keep her fans informed and involved in her life. For as long as I've known Lauryn, she has been focused and up-beat. She finds humor in life experiences and willingly shares it with others.

What's important to Lauryn? Family, friends, education, and community service. What makes Lauryn Lauryn? Hard work, integrity, and humility. How do I know these things? As part of the saying goes....she "walks the walk" everyday.

Many of my former students have become successful in all walks of life, but Lauryn is a standout. I'll be screaming my head off for her when she runs the 100 meters in China. Not because I care if the US wins a medal, but because Lauryn will have achieved another of her goals through dedication and determination. If she wins another medal, all the better. She deserves it. But, over time, the memory of who wins what fades. People remember those who have touched their lives in special ways. Win or lose, she will still be a "gold medal" role model and humanitarian. That will be her legacy of importance.

Sunday, August 24

I'm sure some of you know by now that Lauryn did not do well in the Olympics. In her individual event (100m sprint), she finished 4th behind the three Jamaicans who swept the race. It looked like she was 3rd, but it was not to be. We've heard it, seen it, and read it. Lauryn didn't get the hand-off in the 4 X 100m relay and the team was disqualified. The criticism will blanket her like Beijing smog, and the media will choke us to death with it. The incident was disappointing, but Lauryn and the American team will live through it. Hopefully, US citizens will be forgiving in light of Lauryn's other accomplishment.

Greatly through Lauryn's efforts, the reputation of America's track athletes has been improved, confidence has been restored. She's welcomed people through the media into her life and even into her Miami home. She's proven she has nothing to hide. No one could have done a better job, mainly because of the person Lauryn is on and off the track. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps that's more important than winning a medal. Finishing the relay with her "never quit" attitude and her way of handling the criticism speaks volumes about the strong, mature person she is.

We should thank Lauryn for her hard work and dedication in representing the USA at the Olympics and in meets around the world. Rest assured that even through failure, she will gain insight from the experience, capitalize on what she's learned, and make herself a better person. We should be proud of her and wish her continued health and success

This post first appeared on The Balancing Pole, please read the originial post: here

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Lauryn Williams


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