Sport

Williams-Mills’ fight continues

Cancer-survivor now battling for Commonwealth Games medal

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Monday, July 28, 2014    

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GLASGOW, Scotland — Her story is one of supreme inspiration.

Jamaica's 400m runner, Novlene Williams-Mills, embodies the spirit of a true champion on and off the track. She has waged war on both fronts and won.

Her career as a track athlete sure glitters as brightly as any other, but it is her battle with one of the worst curses known to man, cancer, that she has claimed her ultimate triumph so far.

Williams-Mills has fought the monster of cancer and won. She has cheated death.

And watching her run in the heats of the 400m at the XX Commonwealth Games at Hampden Park yesterday, she showed no visible scars coming out of her battles.

The St Ann native, like a gazelle in full flight, was majestic as she tore apart the field on the back stretch, and had covered it approaching the bend. Williams-Mills was gone and no one was going to catch her. Her time of 52.39 seconds may not turn heads, but her run was elegant as it was well-executed.

And she was happy just to be here in competition, coming back from her troubles.

And yes, she wants another Commonwealth medal, having won bronze in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006.

"For the past two years to just come back on the track to do what I love to do, so to get that medal would tell all my fellow cancer survivors to never give up hope and to keep fighting," Williams-Mills shared with the Jamaica Observer right after her run.

She was grateful to God firstly, and her family for sticking by her in her hour of need.

"When you have family and friends like mine, don't matter what, you have got to keep going. Yes, sometimes it's going to be hard, but you can't quit. A friend once told me that God always gives His toughest soldiers the toughest battles to fight, and I think he gave me that battle, and you know what, I am still fighting."

But her story of trial and tribulation, and then victory, serves to lift up other people the world over who are or were in similar fights for their lives.

"Everyday I get an e-mail, Facebook messages that would say, 'hey you are an inspiration to me', and that's from people I don't know, it really touches me," said Williams-Mills.

The 32-year-old, the considered veteran of Jamaica's women's 400-metre running, said she's upbeat of her chances of medalling here in Glasgow

"I am feeling pretty good, the goal in today's (yesterday's) race was to just come in and have a good run and as comfortable as I can, and I think I did that. The goal has not changed, it is always to come in and win, from here it's just to put on your 'A' game," she said.

But winning gold won't be as easy as ABC, and Williams-Mills, who won bronze at the 2007 World Championships, is well aware of the reality.

"It's going to be competitive as there are some good ladies here, including our own Jamaicans, so I expect all of us to go in with a fight," she noted.

To win a medal, she claims, would mean everything to her.

Her greatest threat for a medal lies in her fellow Jamaicans Stepahnie McPherson and Christine Day, who both won their heats yesterday. Moscow's World Championships silver medallist Amantle Montsho of Botswana, who won her heat in 51.88, is a threat.

In July 2013, Williams-Mills told members of the media that she was diagnosed with breast cancer before the 2012 Olympics. Very few people at the time knew about the diagnosis. Despite the diagnosis, she still ran the race and was able to help Jamaica win a bronze medal. After the Olympics, Williams-Mills had a mastectomy and in January 2013 had another operation.

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