Jamaican triple jumper Kimberly Williams (© Getty Images)
Triple jumper Kimberly Williams last year earned world indoor silver and Commonwealth gold medals. The 30-year-old reflects on what she would tell her pre-teenage self, growing up as a youngster on the Caribbean island of Jamaica.
Dear Little Kimmie. As an enthusiastic schoolgirl sprinter, I know you have future aspirations to be a 100m and 200m runner. But remember watching the triple jump from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the event that you think looks incredibly painful… well, that will be where your future lies.
As crazy as this may sound, the force you will produce will be about 22 times your body weight. But don’t panic; you will be strong enough to handle the pounding.
After watching the Sydney Games, you told Mom that one day you wanted to compete at the Olympics. Well, I would advise you to keep the faith and never give up. One day your dreams will become reality. You will be a world-class athlete, make two Olympics and represent Jamaica numerous times on the senior and junior level.
I know you think that before you reach 30 you will have a nine-to-five job, a big family friendly car, a huge house, a husband and four kids. Sorry to disappoint you but that is not the case. I don’t want to change your future so I’m going to keep it simple and encourage you to follow your dreams, do whatever makes you happy and remember age is just a number.
Also, Little Kimmie, don’t despair. You might not be too keen on reading but one day you will graduate with honours from a good university (Florida State). Yes girl, you went to university and will be the first one in the family to do so.
Oh, and remember that game you played when you were younger, where you told the other kids that you will live in Canada? Think again. You’ll experience snow a handful of times and you hate it! You are from the tropics and you live for the sunshine, not cold weather or snow.
I know you don’t quite know it yet, but when you get a little older there is a thing called overtraining. Listen to your body more and try your best to do everything you can to recover from your workouts. Try new things like yoga, Pilates and meditation; you will love them.
Learn to quieten yourself amid the chaos. Be humble, open-minded and build good relationship with those who care about you; keep them close.
Oh, and Little Kimmie, it is fine to hang out with the boys. You don’t have to fit in with them. Don’t downplay your athletic abilities, continue to strive for excellence and be brave. If you follow this philosophy, you will become a professional track and field athlete, you will get the opportunity to travel the world and meet some fascinating people.
Okay, I think I have said enough; I don’t want to mess with your future too much. Please continue to believe in yourself and live your life to the fullest. You are going to do well.
Steve Landells for the IAAF