Olympian Amy Williams gave an inspiring talk at Prize Giving, telling the audience about the sporting career which led to her gold medal winning performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Amy showed a clip of her breath-taking run on the skeleton bob and said that she had originally wanted to be a 400m runner, but knew she wasn’t good enough to compete in the top flight. After trying out a specially built start track at Bath University she knew she had found her sporting niche: ‘It is probably the most unusual, crazy sport you can probably do in Britain. You practice just the start with the sled, pushing and sprinting, diving on and then we learned how to drive the sled.’
She went to compete in Holland and was invited by the sport’s performance director to have a go on the ice. Amy changed her degree course so she could stay near the training facilities at Bath, and then went to a military ice camp in Lillehammer, Norway.
‘I missed out on the first two weeks of university and absolutely hated it. I burst into tears at the bottom and had bitten the end of my tongue off with the pressure and just thought “what is this crazy thing?” But I just didn’t want to act like a wimp in front of all these big army men who were doing bobsleigh. So I went back to the top, went again and kept going.’
She trained so hard in the sport that she was the reserve British contender in the Turin Olympics in 2006. ‘For me it was the hardest time of my life watching someone else compete and knowing that I really wanted to be the one competing in the Olympics. It was this big turning point and I promised myself, from that point onwards, I would not ever watch another Olympic Games, I would be the one at the top of the track competing for Great Britain.’
She worked with her coaches on all aspects of her training, nutrition and lifestyle in order to get into peak condition: ‘Everything that went into my body, was it going to make me faster and stronger? If the answer was no then I wouldn’t eat or drink it. I was in bed at half past nine every single night and on Saturdays and weekends. I did all my gym sessions and never missed anything, I gave 100 per cent in every single thing. I wanted to know that in four years, whether I made it or not to the Olympics, whether I got a gold medal or bronze, came fifth or came tenth, that I wouldn’t have any regrets. I would stand there knowing that I had given it my all and that it would have been my best.
‘Everyone told me it was absolutely impossible for a British athlete to go and get a winter sport medal. I thought ‘why not’. My motto is to say that nothing is impossible. Everyone here, whatever you put your mind to, however large or small, you can go out and achieve it.’