Track Olympian Lauryn Williams giving bobsled tryBy TIM REYNOLDS , Associated Press
Jul. 31, 2013 8:57 PM ET
Lauryn Williams is about to become the latest U.S. track and field Olympian to try pushing bobsleds.
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 meters, who announced her retirement from track competition in June, will compete Thursday in the U.S. bobsled push championships in Calgary, Alberta. It's the first step in the process that U.S. officials will use to select a national team for competitions this fall, and Thursday's results also play a role in selection for the team that will represent the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics in February.
Plenty of eyes will be on Williams, who was also part of the 400 relay team that won gold at the London Games.
"I love this competition and can't wait to see who shows up to make a statement," U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele said. "It's the only time our push athletes get to showcase their individual abilities since they are pushing on their own in this competition."
And this competition comes with a surprise entrant.
Williams' first foray into the bobsled world really came Tuesday when she finished seventh in a combine for women's team hopefuls, competing in short sprints, a broad jump, shot put toss and weightlifting. Her presence at the combine was not widely publicized, only becoming known when the USBSF posted results.
Predictably, Williams excelled in the sprints, and according to those results released by the USBSF she was beaten in footraces only once — by a mere 0.01 seconds at the 15-meter distance by Lolo Jones, who has been to the Olympics twice as a hurdler on the U.S. team.
The USBSF said Jones and Williams discussed bobsled at the U.S. national track championships in June. It was at that competition where Williams — an NCAA champion in the 100 meters for Miami in 2004 and a member of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic track teams — retired from competition after failing to qualify for the semifinals of the 200.
"It's time," Williams said when announcing her retirement. "Everybody's going to pick theirs in the next couple years that are part of my age group, but my year is this year."
The combination of speed and strength that track athletes tend to have has always been an attractive combination for bobsledding.
Even on the current team, sprinters play a big role. Aja Evans, a second-year bobsledder who won Tuesday's combine with a perfect score of 800 and will likely be a favorite on Thursday, was a sprinter in college. Jones gave bobsled a try for the first time last year, won a World Cup medal in her first race, was second overall at this year's combine and figures to be in the mix for the team that will head to Sochi.
Whether Williams will be the next sprinter-turned-slider remains unclear, with the results of Thursday's event probably going to play a large role in determining what happens next. In June, Williams told reporters she was planning to pursue a career as a certified financial planner.