Elena Meyers, right, and Lauryn Williams of the United States start for a training session for the women's bobsleigh Sunday. (Michael Sohn / Associated Press)
With her elite-level sprinting speed, Lauryn Williams already was in rare company.
She had competed in three Summer Olympics, winning a gold in the 4x100 relay at the 2012 London Games and a silver in the 100 at the 2008 Athens Games.
Now, Williams is entering the rarest of air.
Williams, selected to the U.S. bobsled team, is one of 10 American athletes to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics and could become the first to win gold at consecutive Games.
But she isn’t focused on her potential personal achievements.
“I honestly haven’t thought much about it because this isn’t about me,” Williams wrote to The News via email. “I am part of a duo on a six-member team, and in order for us to win, I have to be at my best and do my best; that’s all I’ve been thinking about since the team was named.”
Last month, Williams was the brakeman, teaming with Jamie Greubel to win gold at a World Cup race in Austria. That was the push she needed to earn a spot on the Sochi team, which runs twice today and twice Wednesday.
As if her sheer speed in the 100 — a shade under 11 seconds — wasn’t blazing enough, Williams is the catalyst in a different discipline. As the brakeman, Williams, 30, kick-starts the bobsled with a strong leg drive to generate enough speed for the driver to hurtle them down the mountain at speeds exceeding 90 mph.
It’s a change in discipline that was recommended by fellow Summer/Winter Olympian Lolo Jones, a world-class sprinter before switching to bobsledding.
In that time, she’s already begun to fit into the “Wolfpack” team, which is favored to medal, as it has every Olympics since the sport was added in 2002.
But with her experience in the Summer Olympics, Williams could turn out to quell the nerves that come with competing in a new event and display the physical tools necessary to lead a loaded American group to medal.
“While I’m more comfortable in a sled with each passing day, it is still scary and I’m still learning things,” she said. “But this time feels different because I don’t feel as much pressure to perform.
“I’m more motivated because I feel that I have more experience handling the pressure. And I must admit that with bobsled I don’t feel any pressure because I am just here to have fun.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Williams later lived in Detroit a short time before returning to Pittsburgh.
She credits her time in Detroit with shaping her internal drive and desire to excel in athletics.
“Detroit engrained in me drive, determination and the will to never give up,” she wrote. “In athletics and life, adversity is a certainty, not a probability, and because of my Detroit roots, I have been able to succeed against all odds and overcome the obstacles on both the track and the ice.”
She graduated from Miami in 2004 and had a long run as a track and field star before announcing her retirement last summer.
But, Williams wasn’t done for good, especially after getting some motivation from Jones to try bobsledding.