Danielle Williams wins her 1st world hurdles title at 22
Aug. 28, 2015
BEIJING (AP) — Danielle Williams glanced to her right after crossing the line in the 100-meter hurdles, looking for her older sister.
Shermaine Williams was behind her, and so was everybody else.
With the favored Americans in the lanes on either side of her, the 22-year-old Jamaican won an unexpected world championship title Friday in a personal best time of 12.57 seconds.
"It's a mixture of both surprise and joy," Williams said. "Mostly surprise."
In the end, it was Cindy Roleder of Germany and Alina Talay of Belarus taking silver and bronze — the kind of podium very few could have predicted.
Defending champion Brianna Rollins was 0.01 out of the medals in fourth, and American teammate Sharika Nelvis was last despite having the world-leading time of 12.34.
Dawn Harper-Nelson, who won Olympic gold at the Bird's Nest in 2008 and silver in London in 2012, crashed over the second hurdle in the semifinals, moments before Kendra Harrison was disqualified for a false start. American women had the five fastest times in the world this year, and had won half of the previous 14 world titles — only ever missing out on medals three previous times.
"It's a hurdles race, anything can happen," Williams said of the accidents and the absences from the medal podium. "When I looked up and saw there was no Americans, I was trying to figure out what happened, so I watched on the screen. I don't know what happened in the race."
Williams had the eighth-fastest time in the world this year, but peaked at the right time.
"I came into this championship expecting to run a personal best," Williams said. "I did it in a semifinal, so I was hoping I could have the legs to come back in the finals since they were so close together."
Her only disappointment was not having her older sister, who started in Lane 9, sharing the podium.
"It was an awesome feeling having my sister there with me," Danielle said. "We shall celebrate as soon as I get home. She said, 'Great going, proud of you.'"
The sisters spend most of the year training in North Carolina with Lennox Graham. After a trip back to Jamaica to celebrate, attention will return to the Olympics, where there'll be much higher expectations.
"I won't focus on the expectations. I'll continue to be my level-headed self," Danielle said. "Hopefully 2016 Rio — I'll be Olympic champion."