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Former Chiles runner Williams taking to different track for 2020 Games

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 12:30 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - After having to wait an extra year, the 2020 Olympic Games are slated to start this week.

One of the most decorated athletes in Florida high school cross country and track and field history, Chiles High School alum Lily Williams

But her journey to Tokyo has taken her on a different track.

Williams knows success: In cross county at CHS, Williams won three individual state runner-ups and in track and field, she won seven individual state titles.

“As a kid, I think everyone who does sports thinks they’re going to go to the Olympics and I certainly thought that for every sport that I did or had that hope,” she remembered.

But after graduating from Vanderbilt in 2016, it was a different discipline that Williams used her endurance to find success in.

“Track cycling. We race on something called a Velodrome. It’s a 250-meter track that is wood. The event that I’m doing is four kilometers,” Williams said. “Basically what we are doing is trying to get around four kilometers as fast as we can with the combination of four people on the track together. I thought that the transition would be pretty smooth physiologically and it has been. So i think I’m definitely suited for track cycling and I’m in the right discipline for the Olympics.”

Williams was part of the team that won the world championships last February, so she had an inkling that going to Tokyo was a possibility.

In early June of this year, her suspicion was confirmed.

She says the feeling is surreal.

“It’s pretty cool. I mean, it’s so easy when you’re training super hard every day to realize that it’s a pretty big deal to go to the Olympics. It’s nice to remind myself of that every now and then and sit and feel accomplished with that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic pushing the games back a year was certainly disappointing, but Williams looks at it with optimism; it gave her and her teammates an extra year to prepare and instill unwavering confidence for her and the rest of Team USA.

“We’ve done everything we need to to win the race and if we get beat, it just means another team was better. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t trained as hard as we can. We are all really excited. Definitely nervous but that’s just part of it.”

As far as her Tallahassee roots, Williams says it played a huge part in where she is now.

“I loved running in Tallahassee growing up. I think it’s one of the best places I could have been to become an athlete. Especially running at Chiles with my team. I think if running didn’t work out for me, it really laid the foundation for a career in sports. It’s exciting to be representing Florida in Tokyo.”

Qualifying for the team pursuit track cycling begins on Monday, August 2.

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