Meadowbrook High's Williams breaks new ground for school, family

Meadowbrook High's Williams breaks new ground for school, family

Observer writer

Friday, August 14, 2020

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Shakur Williams is used to breaking trends, used to setting the pace and being first.

He was the first track athlete at Meadowbrook High to make a Champs final in a decade and is now the first member of his family to attend college after accepting an offer to attend Albany State University in Georgia, starting this month.

The CARIFTA Games third-place finisher in the Under-20 men's 100m back in March is also the first track and field athlete from his school in nearly 20 years to get an offer since sprinter Shelly-ann Gallimore.

Not that he was aware of any of these achievements before they happened, but he says he has taken everything in stride as he still has a lot more to achieve.

Williams made both 100m and 200m finals in Class Three at the ISSA Champs in 2016, and told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday, that: “Honestly, I didn't know that {the first to make a final for the school in a long time] until the day of the final when the team manager [Hyacinth Johnson] told me, but even though I came seventh and it was my first year, I was filled so much joy.”

The other Meadowbrook High athlete to make a final at Champs in that period was thrower Coby Graham, who eventually transferred to Calabar High and is now on scholarship in the USA.

A hard worker, who describes his mother Nekisha Dacres as “my number one supporter”, Williams will fulfill one of his biggest dreams later this month when he leaves for Albany State.

“It means a lot, to be honest, as no one in my family has ever had the opportunity, so I'm proud of this achievement,” he said

Williams, who is from King Weston district near Lawrence Tavern, said his mother was the force that kept him going.

“My mom supported more than I could have ever hoped, anything I can think of she did it, Sunday to Sunday. If I had class or training, she made sure I got there [and] days when I didn't want to go to class, she'd remind why I started all this and that would motivate me to push through,” he said.

Being the first athlete from Meadowbrook to get an offer from an American college in 20 years, he said: “The feeling is indescribable to know that all my hard work paid off in the end.”

Williams will study Electrical Engineering and had six distinctions and two credits in the CSEC as well as four Unit 1 in the CAPE and is awaiting his results from Unit 2.

It wasn't all smooth sailing, however, as injuries slowed him down after his breakthrough year and left him frustrated.

“Yes, I was very frustrated because I was just starting out and was really pumped going into the next season. [I] just listened and communicated with my coach, [and] I really didn't try to over exert myself and keep reminding myself this happens in sports and I just got to do the rehab and get back out there,” Williams shared.

He had several offers, at least six, including from one local university, but said he chose Albany State because “after speaking to the coach, there was a certain connection that I felt from him”.

“He didn't make it seem like I was just another athlete to them, it felt like I was joining a family,” Williams explained.

He was poised for a major breakthrough in 2020, and said he had put in the background work, seeking assistance from outside as the school could not provide all that he required.

“I had to train twice during school time. I'd have to wake at 3:30am to get to training by 4:00am and start training by 5:00am and finish before 7:00am to go to school. By 4:00pm, I got to do gym work with Spry Gym and finish by 6:00pm and that would be Monday to Friday.”

His mother, hWilliams said, was with him every step of the way.

“Thank God for my mother, who stood by me throughout my preparations. It was as if she was training too,” he reflected

“On the weekends I would be doing recovery and pool work, and sometimes it would be three sessions when I'm on break from school that the preparation was going before competition which I did by myself. I didn't have any teammates to push me in training. All this I had to balance with my academics. There was no compromise,” Williams added.

Among his goals for this year befoe VOVID-19 intervened was “to make the national team; wearing that black, green, and gold”. “Making my country proud like the others who have done so, as well as possibly secure a medal at 'Champs.”

He appeared well on his way to getting his goals after he ran a personal best 10.50 seconds in the Under-20 100m at CARIFTA Trials and placed third and said he was right where he wanted to be. “It was a very good sign as we didn't start getting technical with the speed work as yet... it was still mostly speed endurance, so there was lot more time to take off,” Williams noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic would have the last word, however, as both Champs and CARIFTA Games were cancelled and Williams admitted it was a big let down.

“It affected the number of scholarships I received and also not having the chance to perform with the best and see how fast I could've gone. I was really looking to be the surprise spoiler in the Champs Class One finals line up,” Williams ended.

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