clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

State of the U Catches up with Olympic Medalist/UM Alum Lauryn Williams

The first American woman and just the fifth athlete ever to medal in both the Summer and Winter games gave us the scoop on her days in Coral Gables, Sochi, her favorite athletes, and more.

Williams and teammate Elana Meyer celebrate their Silver Medal
Williams and teammate Elana Meyer celebrate their Silver Medal
Joe Scarnici

Everyone knows that The University of Miami has Alumni famous the world around.  Whether you are talking about football stars Andre Johnson and Ed Reed, Emmy nominated actor Ray Liotta, Pulitzer prize winner Donald Justice, or even a Grammy winner Enrique Iglesias,  there is no shortage of special people who have thrown up the U.

Yet there is still something extra exceptional when a 4x Olympian, 3x Olympic Medalist, 5th person to ever medal in both Summer/Winter Olympic games, is from your school.

Lauryn Williams started her determinate path to stardom in Coral Gables.

She was also kind enough to let State of the U catch up with her after history making run in this year's Winter games in Sochi, Russia.

Here is the full Q&A:

SOTU: Reflecting on your days running track at the University of Miami, how did the experience prepare you to become an Olympic Athlete?

LW: The Miami Athletic Department was a special place during the time I was there. The football team was WINNING and that energy spilled over into all sports.

SOTU: What is your single greatest memory of your days at UM?

LW:Being in the weight room. It was a place where the investment of hard work was made, there were always a couple of sports in there you could laugh, cry, dance and be inspired among other things. It was like the home for everyone.

SOTU: Who are some of your favorite professional athletes?

LW: Ed Reed and Alex Rod Rodriguez. Ed was such a motivational force during my time at the U. In the midst of getting ready to win a national championship he somehow found time to keep up with other sports and give inspirational chats. As a freshman I was totally amazed by his willingness to share his thoughts on how to be great with me. Alex has trained at the U most of my professional career and at some point he and I started to do some of the fall workouts together. It was awesome to have this example of a tip top work ethic at my disposal. Alex was considered the greatest but he worked like he was a rookie trying to make the team always above and beyond never slacking.

SOTU: For those of us in warmer climates, and who could only watch the games on television, describe for us the environment and the energy of Sochi the city, and the games themselves?

LW:Though Sochi was unseasonably warm the views were beautiful. If you were in the Coastal area you could watch the sunset over the black sea. In the mountain village you were literally surrounded by mountains. Winter sports are more extreme so I found the personality of the athletes to be more carefree. I like that the overall games were smaller so it was more intimate. I got to know many people from different countries and saw them more than once.

SOTU: How does it feel to be the first American woman to win a medal in both the Winter and Summer Games?

LW:It is such an honor to have accomplished this feat and be a part of history in such an awesome way, so I am very grateful to be included among this great list of medalists. While this a great individual distinction I can't take all of the credit. I didn't do this alone; I couldn't. There were 6 of us on the Olympic team and in this group sport, any medals won were a victory for "The Wolfpack" and the entire country. In both track and bobsled, there were my coaches, trainers, family, friends and fans who helped push me. So while I did it, we did it, and that's my greatest source of pride.

SOTU: How did you end up going from track to bobsled? For those of us who aren't that familiar with the sport, how much adrenaline do you get hitting full speed in a bobsled? How does it compare to running track?

LW: After a nagging hamstring injury, I decided to retire from track and field. I decided to try bobsledding after a chance encounter with Lolo Jones in the airport. The appeal was the challenge to try something new, and the opportunity to show what very few people know- that bobsledding is pretty cool.  You get a lot of adrenaline from hitting a 400 pound bobsled and sliding down the ice track in excess of 120 mph. Each sport comes with it's on set of risks, but none that I have ever competed in that are like bobsled.

SOTU: How close were you with your teammates on the team? Specifically Elana Meyers?

LW: My teammates and I grew to be really close and even gave ourselves a nickname "The Wolfpack". The team aspect of track helped me understand how to deal with competing in a team sport. Elana Meyers and I did a lot of drills and simple things like dressing alike to get on the same page.

SOTU: What message would you send to young women out there who aspire to be Olympic/Professional Athletes?

LW:My advice is don't let anyone tell you what you can't do. Get up each morning and go after it. During the process, doors will open for you and your dreams will come true so just keep getting up and going after it.

SOTU: Finally, any message for all of the University of Miami fans who love and support you?

LW: Thank U for your love and support over the years! I couldn't have done any of this without U! I'll be home to celebrate, eat some good Miami food, and enjoy the beach SOON!

We can not thank Lauryn enough for letting us chat with her.

Her accomplishments and the wonderful person she is. are both sources of pride for not only the UM family, but all Americans.