When Sada Williams thinks about what she achieved this season, the 24-year-old knows it could have long-lasting significance for the next generation of athletes in Barbados, according to World Athletics.
“It definitely is an example to the other ones coming up that even though we’re from a little island, we can do big things,” Williams told World Athletics on Wednesday. “It’s a great feeling to be an example.”
World Athletics said Williams’ story is not simply that of a gifted sprinter fulfilling her talent, becoming, as she did, the first Barbadian woman ever to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships when taking 400m bronze in Oregon.
“It’s also a story of an athlete navigating the notoriously difficult path from the underage to senior, overcoming injuries and making a tough choice to leave her nation behind to ultimately get where she wanted to be,” World Athletics said.
It said Williams was born in the parish of St. Philip in the eastern part of Barbados but grew up in the parish of St. Michael on the west side of the island.
In global terms, World Athletics said Barbados is a tiny place – just 34km long and 23km wide, with a population of just under 300,000 – “yet like many Caribbean islands, it punches significantly above its weight in sprinting, most notably through the world 110m hurdles title won by Ryan Brathwaite in 2009 and the Olympic 100m bronze medal won by Obadele Thompson in 2000.”
In 2014, World Athletics said Williams announced herself as the next potential star, winning the CARIFTA Games 400m title in 53.39 at the age of just 16.
She went on to reach the world U20 400m semifinal in Oregon that year and also made the 400m final at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, World Athletics said.
Heading into the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, it said Williams had two goals: to make the final and break the national record.
World Athletics said she very nearly did both in the semifinal, her 50.12 to advance in second just one hundredth of a second shy of her best.
It said Williams “rocketed” through the opening 300 meters and turned for home level with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
World Athletics said Miller-Uibo pulled away up the home straight to win in 49.11, with Marileidy Paulino coming through for second in 49.60, and Williams winning bronze in a national record of 49.75.
Williams’s superb season continued in the weeks after, World Athletics said, adding that Williams went to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as the favorite for the 400m “and lived up to that billing, sprinting to gold in 49.90.”
A fortnight after that, World Athletics said she won silver in 49.86 at the NACAC Championships in The Bahamas behind Miller-Uibo.
With three championships and three medals, Williams has made Barbados prouder, according to World Athletics.
“When I put on my national colors, it brings me great pride and joy,” Williams said. “I know they were watching back home.”