Once every two years, the greatest athletes from around the world represent their countries with pride and compete to etch their names in the history books. This massive event is truly a spectacle, and there may be no one better equipped to break down what it takes and what the stage feels like more than Lauryn Williams. As one of only five athletes, and the first American woman, to take home hardware in both winter (bobsledding) and summer (sprinting) events, Williams can provide unparalleled advice and knowledge on the topic. So we sat down with the legendary competitor to hear all about her experiences on the global stage.
Part 1: Training For The Stage
Q: How did training for a huge event like this differ from how you trained normally year-round?
A: “You don’t train any differently for the games. That’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I give to people who are training for the team. Do what you know works, don’t do something completely different. A lot of times people get poor performance at the games because they are like ‘ok, I made the team, now I have to go above and beyond.’ But the thing that helped you make the team is the thing that will help you perform while there.”
Q: Can you walk us through what your training routine looked like?
A: “I trained roughly three hours a day, six days a week.
We would start with early morning, 6 a.m. weight room workouts, then we’d come back in the afternoon for the running portion. Depending on what day it was, it would be a harder workout or a sprint workout.
Wednesday was our recovery day, so we could regroup — which was really important. A mistake athletes everywhere make is overtraining. A lot of times, you’ll hear people say ‘you need to work smart, not hard,’ and I completely agree. You can’t work yourself to the bone and think it’s going to make you the fastest.”
Q: Competing on that stage also meant added pressure and expectations. How did you prepare mentally for that?
A: “The biggest thing for me was telling myself ‘I am good enough to be here.’ So often you second-guess yourself and compare yourself to the competition, but, in reality, mental prep is knowing you’ve done everything you possibly could to make the result go in your favor. Then you just need to go out there, relax, and realize your potential.
In my sprinting events, I often had only 100 meters. I had 11 seconds or less to make the most of my moment, so if I had spent the time thinking about what my neighbors were doing — it would have gotten me off track and the result wouldn’t have been as good.”
Feb. 9 – Part 2: Competing In Summer Events Vs. Winter Events
Q: You can give really unique insight on this since you have competed and medaled in both summer and winter events. What were the biggest differences between the two?
A: “The biggest difference between the two is the atmosphere and size. When I was on the winter team, we had around 230 total athletes representing the US, whereas just our track and field team had over 180 people one summer. So that one sport is pretty much the size of all the sports for the winter. But that smaller size helps you get to know the people better. It’s a lot more intimate of a community and more of a family environment in the winter.”
Q: How did that transition from sprinting to bobsledding come about?
A: “My track and field career was getting ready to be over and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next in my life after sports. So I started playing with some different options and I ran into a friend at an airport. I had just read an article about her trying bobsled and asked her ‘hey, I heard you did bobsled? How did you like it?’ She had nothing but praises to say about bobsled, and what a great opportunity it was. She said ‘Lauryn, you’re fast and powerful, those are two tools you’ll need. So if I were you, I’d give it a try.’ So I did, and six months later, I was at the Games!”
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you had when you made the switch?
A: “Definitely the learning curve. Track and field is a very individual sport while bobsled is much more team-oriented. It was one of my biggest life lessons — it taught me how to compete against someone but also have their best interests at heart. You want the overall team to win. It was a very steep learning curve, and I depended on the other girls to help me so that I could be good enough to represent the USA.”
Q: As someone who has truly excelled at multiple sports, what advice would you give to young athletes who want to go down that path?
A: “It’s a great way to diversify yourself. I work in financial planning now and that’s a common term that we use, but it applies to multiple parts of your life. You want to be multifaceted so that you can give yourself different skills and strengths. The more things you expose yourself to, the better opportunities you’ll have long term. It’ll also make you more well-rounded as a person. Plus, what you learn in one sport could be useful in another.”
Feb. 16 – Part 3: Favorite Moments Of Her Career
Q: When you look back at your career, were there any moments that really stood out?
A: “I would say in 2012, when I did my part to help the 4×100 relay team win gold and break the world record. I was part of the qualifying relay, but wasn’t chosen to participate in the finals. You would think that would be a negative experience for me, but it was kind of that redeeming moment that I realized in bobsled later: it’s bigger than me.”
On June 3, the U.S. men’s national team will square off against Columbia in the first match of the COPA America Centenario, and when they do, they will be wearing brand new team kits. The 2016 USA Nike Vapor Kits are built from the ground up to showcase the blazing speed and unique style of this year’s squad.
A big part of what makes this kit special is Nike’s revolutionary Aeroswift technology. Featured on the jerseys and shorts, it dries sweat quickly while providing outstanding breathability. Each piece of the kit is also engineered for a precision fit to give you that perfect locked-in feel.
From a style standpoint, Nike really knocked it out of the park. The headliner here will certainly be U.S. Soccer’s new team crest. On the home jersey, a red stripe runs all the way down the shirt and shorts to complement the main white color nicely. The away jersey is even more interesting with a black main color and red and blue sleeves.
Lucky for you, the men’s home and away kits are both available on presell starting March 24. So whether watching from the couch or putting in work on the practice field, you can look like you favorite soccer stars.
words // Brandon Richard
Nobody said it would be easy, and though Team USA coasted in the early stages of Sunday’s Barcelona exhibition, Argentina showed us exactly why they’re the world’s third ranked FIBA team. Despite trailing the United States by 15 points after the first quarter, the Argentines rallied for advantages in two of the remaining three quarters. However, game MVP Kevin Durant came up with timely buckets late in the fourth to help the Americans hold on to a slim 86-80 victory.
Durant scored 27 points in the game after knocking down 7-of-11 3-point attempts. Kobe Bryant added 18 points, while LeBron James rolled out his usual triple-threat stat line with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Manu Ginobili scored 23 to lead the way for Argentina.
Next up for the United States is rival Spain tomorrow afternoon.
Though they were tested like the Dream Team never was, Team USA celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the ’92 team’s dominance in Barcelona by wearing throwback jerseys. Check out the Dream Team kits and USA-themed kicks in this special edition of Sneaker Watch.
images via ESPN
Kevin Durant dunks in the Nike Zoom KD IV “USA.”
Kobe Bryant works the post in a PE USA colorway of the Nike Zoom Kobe VII.
Manu Ginobili duels with Kobe in a custom colorway of the Nike LeBron 9.
Luis Scola drives in kicks by ANTA; Tyson Chandler defends in the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
LeBron James looks to set up a play in a PE “USA” colorway of the Nike Lunar Hyperdunk + Sport Pack.
Chris Paul brings the ball up the court in his “USA” Jordan CP3.V PE.
Carmelo Anthony runs down a loose ball in the “USA” Jordan Melo M8.
Andres Nocioni chased down in the “Argentina” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Andre Iguodala shoots a three in the “USA” Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Facundo Campazzo with a tough assignment in the “Hard Knocks” adidas adiZero Rose 2.5.
Russell Westbrook lets one fly in the “USA” Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2012.
Team USA celebrates their victory; James Harden in the Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Low; Anthony Davis and Kevin Love wearing Nike Lunar Hyperdunk.
Kevin Durant hoists the Tiffany & Co. Player of the Game Trophy.
Danny Gabbdon of Wales gets a little close for comfort to Scott McDonald of Australia.
words // Nick Engvall
The NBA may be seeing their players show up on public courts to get in some playing time, but no sport does “non-competitive” (yeah, right!) friendly matches like soccer. To say that any professional athlete, or amateur athlete for that matter, can play any kind of sport against another international team and have their natural competitive instincts not show through is comical. Though you might see a laid back approach at times during a week like the last, which was filled with international friendly matches, players are out there playing aggressively (see the above picture for proof), because that’s what they do, and that’s why we love to watch them compete.
This week Team USA and Mexico battled to a 1-1 draw in their latest match. The match was the first with new coach, Jurgen Klinsmann’s at the helm of Team USA. The struggling USA team is hoping that Jurgen can stir things up and bring the best out of a team often referred to as never living up to potential. Ironically it was a player who was not even on the original roster, Robbie Rogers who put in the lone goal for the United States.
Check out the latest Soccer Watch coverage below courtesy of Yahoo.
Keisuke Honda of Japan wearing Mizuno cleats.
Shinji Kagawa celebrates scoring a goal in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Robbie Rogers of the USA and Gerardo Torrado of Mexico battle for possession wearing Nike soccer cleats.
Pablo Berrera gets some air wearing Nike Mercurial cleats.
Niki Zimling of Denmark wearing the adidas adiPower Predator.
Gareth Bale of Wales wearing the adidas F50 adiZero.
Antonia Cassandra wearing Diadora cleats.
Gianluigi Buffon wearing the Elektro colorway of the PUMA PowerCat.
Camilo Sanvezza of the Vancouver Whitecaps in the F50 heads one on goal at keeper Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire in the adiPower Predator.
The United States Men’s National Basketball Team went into the 2010 FIBA World Championship with two big obstacles to overcome – their lack of size and lack of experience. So it seemed as if having to play one of the tallest teams in the tournament on their floor in front of a building filled with 15,000 rowdy fans to win the gold medal could prove to be a little too overwhelming for the young Americans. However, just the opposite occurred, as a gutsy and poised effort from Team USA resulted in a 81-64 victory, and the team’s first World Championship since 1994.
Once again, the story of the game was the play of Kevin Durant. Continuing where he left off in the semi-finals against Lithuania, Durant got the U.S. off to a hot start by knocking down his first three shots and scoring eight of the team’s first 12 points. Turkey’s Hedo Turkoglu responded in a big way, going on a 8-2 personal scoring run to hand the Turks a 15-14 advantage with a little more than four minutes to play in the period. The United States then turned up the defensive intensity, holding Turkey to just one basket in the remaining minutes for a 22-17 lead at the end of the quarter.
Russell Westbrook, who proved to be a spark plug throughout the tournament, started the second quarter off by successfully converting a three-point play. After the United States’ offense stalled, going without a point for a three-minute stretch in the frame, Durant once again showed why he was the best player in the tournament. The scoring machine rolled off nine straight points, including two three-pointers to push the lead to 10 points, which held up at half-time.
The proverbial sports dagger was placed in the hearts of the Turkish collective when, who else but Kevin Durant, knocked down two straight shots from downtown to start the second half. Durant then gestured to the crowd, letting them know that he had no intention of leaving the building without a championship. From there, the Turks were never able to cut the lead down to single digits, and a continued spirited defensive effort in the fourth quarter sealed the deal.
With the win, the United States ends a 16-year drought at the FIBA World Championship. The successful tournament run is the result of long-term plan put in place by USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski earned his first World Championship after his previous two appearances ended in bronze medals.
In the future, this tournament may very well be remembered as the foundation of a legendary career for Kevin Durant. While players like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were already established superstars prior to having success on the international stage, Durant was just on the cusp after a tremendous NBA season that saw him become the youngest player to ever win a scoring title. Now, with his success in Istanbul, Durant appears to be on his way to becoming a household name. The pressure was put on his shoulders, and he responded like the great players do – with a championship. Durant’s play also made him the obvious recipient of the Naismith Trophy for tournament MVP.
Also not to be forgotten are the unsung heroes of the tournament: the scrappy defense of Russell Westbrook, the efficient production of Kevin love, the rebounding and fast-break ignition of Lamar Odom, and the sharpshooting of Eric Gordon. The truth is, everybody on this team deserves glory for what happened in Turkey. A player like Danny Granger, who scores 25 to 30 points a night for the Indiana Pacers, was simply a role player for Team USA in Istanbul. The way he handled his role on the team is an example of the kind of spirit that enabled the 12 men who made the trip to come home with the hardware.
Now the wait begins for an all-new NBA season, which tips off on October 26th. Be sure to keep checking Eastbay for more basketball coverage.
images via Yahoo