'Felix' eyes Olympics spot

Athletics

'Felix' eyes Olympics spot

Former Holmwood track star Ashley Williams says back on track after injury setback

By Howard Walker
Observer senior reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 13, 2020

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Former Holmwood Technical High School track star Ashley Williams believes she has overcome mental and physical scars associated with injuries, and is hoping to deliver on her huge promise in this an Olympic year.

The 23-year-old Williams, more affectionately called “Felix” because of her uncanny physical resemblance to the American great Allyson Felix, was considered one for the future during her high school years.

With a versatile range from 200m to 400m, coupled with splendid relay legs on her school's 4x100m relay teams, a lot was expected of Williams. But sadly, injuries have plagued her since leaving the high school system.

“It is people's expectations of me versus the real life issue of adjusting,” Williams recently told the Jamaica Observer, in an exclusive interview.

A number of talented athletes have failed to make the transition from high school star to senior elite professionals and Williams believes more needs to be done to help athletes understand and appreciate that waiting period.

“I have been injured and mentally I have been affected. A lot of persons don't focus on the mental aspect of us athletes,” Williams said.

“It is really hard after getting injuries and leaving high school; we are not expected to perform [well] in our first or second year. I am just getting seasoned into the programme and I have been affected mentally and I am just trying to come back,” she explained.

Williams, who has a personal best of 23.55 seconds for 200m and 52.72 seconds for 400m, is now a final-year student at G C Foster College, pursuing a bachelor's degree in education.

She left the ISSA Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships in 2016 with victory in the 200m in 24.02 seconds and had behind her none other than Natalliah White of St Jago — who was fifth — but who has since made a fairly successful transition to the senior ranks and was a part of Jamaica's gold-medal-winning team at last year's World Athletics Championships.

In one of the biggest clashes at Champs that year, Williams was second in her pet event to the remarkable Junelle Bromfield in the 400m. Bromfield would go on to cop bronze at the World Under-20 Championships in Poland.

So Williams has kept good company and she believes once she is able to stay healthy, the sky's the limit.

She opened her season in December at G C Foster Over Distance Meet winning the 300m in 38.30 seconds. Michae Harriott was some way back in second with 40.43 seconds.

“This year I am looking forward to making the Olympics team, of course. Training is going very well right now and I am injury free and that's the most important thing, and I am just trying to stay healthy and try to better my times,” added Williams.

“It has been three going to four years, I have done nothing since leaving high school,” she added.

“So this year is just about running times and just showing up and performing and whatever happens just happens. But for me the main aim is the Olympics,” noted a hopeful Williams.

“I am only focusing on the 400m this year. That's the only thing I can do. I have tried the 200m, 100m and hurdles, but 400m is my calling and I am just going to stick to that.

“I have been to 52 (seconds) and to get to 51, I think I have a better chance getting there.

“I am training really hard, harder than before. I want to produce times. I don't want to make any promises, I just want to stay healthy.”

Meanwhile her Coach Maurice Wilson was pleasantly surprised with her 38-second performance for 300m last year, and he believes based on a few tweaks here and there, in addition to a renewed focus he has detected in her, she could do very well going forward.

“Sometimes it is difficult to predict the 38 seconds because we would have to determine if she is going to run the 200m or the 400m. But in context, November 28 and running in track shoes I think it is fairly good. I am very pleased and actually surprised with the performance,” he told the Observer.

He added: “Over the years, she has done fairly well at [the] collegiate level. The big problem is being able to sustain her performance to the end of the season and mainly because she is not a strongly built young lady, and there are some issues nutritionally in what she eats and that has affected her.

“But this year I have seen a different focus, different level of concentration and also she is a bachelor of education student and it requires a lot of study time. This is her final year, she has a little more time and so I have seen a difference in her training. I expect her to perform extremely well this year. Once we have decided on which event she will be competitive in, she should do extremely well.”


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