Steve Williams (sprinter)
November 13, 1953|
New York City, United States
|Height||Script error: No such module "convert".|
|Weight||Script error: No such module "convert".|
|Event(s)||100 meters, 200 meters|
|Achievements and titles|
100 m: / 9.9 s (hand-time, then WR=)
|Competitor for 23x15px United States|
|IAAF World Cup|
|Gold medal – first place||1977 Düsseldorf||100 m|
|Gold medal – first place||1977 Düsseldorf||4 x 100 m|
|Bronze medal – third place||1981 Rome||4 x 100 m|
Steve Williams (born  is a retired track and field sprinter from the United States. He equalled the men's world records for the 100 m and 200 m with hand-timed runs of 9.9 seconds and 19.8 seconds, respectively, and was also a member of a team that set a world record in the 4x100 m relay.November 13, 1953 )
He never competed at the Olympics, but had success at the IAAF World Cup: he won the 100 m and set a world record in the 4×100-meter relay with the USA team at the inaugural championship in 1977. He won the 100 yd and 220 yd American titles at the 1973 AAU Championships and retained his short sprint title with a 100 m victory in 1974.
He won the 100 meters at the 1977 IAAF Athletics World Cup in Düsseldorf whilst representing the USA. He also anchored the 4x100 meters USA relay team to a new world record time of 38.03 seconds, alongside Bill Collins, Steve Riddick and Cliff Wiley – an event statistician Mark Butler for the IAAF puts in his top 10 men's World Cup moments. Williams also received a bronze medal as a member of the 4x100 meters USA relay team at the 1981 IAAF World Cup in Rome.
At the peak of his career he was claimant to the title the world's fastest man. He recorded four 9.9 seconds hand-timings for the 100 metres, so equalling the then world record. He also jointly held the world record for 220 yards (with Don Quarrie) at 19.9 seconds (achieved in 1975).[note 3]
Recognised as one of the favourites, his chance of winning the 1976 Olympic 100 metres title was ruined by injury at the quarter-final stage of the USA Olympics trials (the injury suffered was a repeat of the muscle pull he had suffered at the AAU meet earlier in the season). Williams's injury emerged in the qualifying heat in the morning, he grabbed at his thigh 15 metres from the finish line. In the afternoon quarter-final, he could only run 20 metres before pulling-up. The crowd gave him a warm ovation as he sadly left the stadium. The injury also forced him to withdraw from the 200 m trial.
Williams attempted to qualify again for the Olympics in 1980 (finishing 6th)[note 4] and 1984 (eliminated at the quarter-final stage) but failed to make the team by finishing in the top three finishers.
Williams emerged as a formidable talent nationally in 1972 with impressive times in the 100, 220 and 440 yards events (9.3/20.3/45.2 respectively). However, an injury suffered at the quarter-final stage of the 200 m event at the Olympic Trials cost him a chance of going to the 1972 Munich Olympics. He first came to the world's attention in 1973, first by tying the world record for 100 yards (at 9.1 seconds), second by winning both the 100 and 220 yards events at the AAU meet (the first person to do this since Ray Norton in 1960), and thirdly by defeating the great Soviet sprinter Valeriy Borzov on the final leg of the sprint relay at the USA versus USSR meet in Minsk. He also set the world's best electronically timed performance in the men's 200 metres that year on June 16 at a meet in Bakersfield, clocking 20.33 s. Williams impressive form continued into 1974 where he equalled the 100 m world record, defended his short sprint title at the AAU Championships, and came second at the NCAA Championships 200 metres event.; and 1975 where he equalled the 200 m world record. While on tour in 1974, he won the French national championship.
In 1976, after completing his studies at San Diego State University, majoring in English and journalism, he moved to Florida. Here he worked with his coach, Brooks Johnson, at the Florida Track Club, to help achieve his Olympic dream and a "9.8 and 19.6 kind of human excellence". Williams himself has commented on what Brooks was able to show him about his then running style, "I was shocked....I never realized how bad I was. I had been winning by accident." His style was once described as a "quaint, bobbing-and-weaving, shoulder-rolling style that seems to have been choreographed by Bo Diddley" and that in any race he won he "accomplished the feat with soul, style, lousy starts and great finishes" His equalling again of the then world record for 100 metres early in the 1976 season showed that he was on course to achieve his Olympic dream but sadly it would remain unfulfilled. Both Hasely Crawford, the gold medallist, and Don Quarrie, the silver medallist, in the 1976 Montreal Olympics 100 m event have expressed the belief that with Williams there a faster time, possibly a new world record, would have happened.
His disappointment at being denied Olympic glory was only somewhat assuaged by success at the 1977 IAAF Athletics World Cup - 'This is as close as I can get', he is reported as saying. His narrow victory in the 100 m over Eugen Ray (representing East Germany) was followed by a world record as the anchor for the USA team in the sprint relay. Williams has reported that he was troubled with a painful bone spur in one foot leading up to the competition. This meant he had to limit his races, and caused him to lean prematurely with pain at the finish of the 100 m. Williams has also admitted his decision to swap the baton between his hands after the final exchange of the relay may have cost the team the distinction of being the first to run under 38 s, but he also counters that it was a movement that was natural to him, and is a tactic shared by other great sprinters, including Carl Lewis. He also offers the opinion that being a one-off race meant the team did not get to practise under the competitive conditions of running in a heat and semi-final first. This would have allowed the team to further finesse the exchanges that would have allowed the two fastest runners, himself and Steve Riddick, the maximum possible length of the track to run in.
Notes for tables:
- world rankings are based on the best time for each athlete.
- 220 yard times are converted to 200 metres times by subtracting 0.1 s for manual-timed results and 0.12 s for automatic-timed results.
- for comparison with automatically timed races, manual times have a factor of 0.24 s added.
At the peak of his career, Williams was a formidable performer at the USA national championships. For instance, his second place in the 100 m in 1977 (Don Quarrie of Jamaica was 1st) qualified him for the Athletics World Cup that year.
In addition, Williams was United States champion indoors at 60 y in 1976.
Williams is a native of The Bronx, New York City, where he attended the Evander Childs High School. Following his birth, Williams had to have his legs put in braces for six months to correct for an acute case of pigeon toes. Always a fast runner as a child, he concentrated on 220 and 440 yards at school, and did not run 100 yards seriously until his senior year. Williams attributes his competitiveness to his New York upbringing, "you are constantly competing in New York", he has said.
Williams's high-school track coach, Duke Marshall, has written warmly about how, because of unusually long stride length, he had to train in the school hallways and not on the steeply banked school gymnasium track.
After graduation from High School, he went to the University of Texas at El Paso on a full scholarship, but after a year moved to the San Diego State University where he did a degree in television and film production.
Julie Cart of the LA Times has described how Williams in 1983 had written a screenplay, called Speeding, based upon his experiences of athletics in the 1970s, a screenplay he himself describes as an 'Animal House-type look at the world of big time track and field'. Williams always represented himself with promoters so was more aware than most of the machinations and characters involved with event promotion and payments to athletes. Williams has also discussed how he was an advocate for other athletes and a keen defender of their rights, often working alongside other senior, influential athletes of the time like the high-jumper Dwight Stones. An example of Williams's patience advising younger athletes is given by Carl Lewis who has described how he effectively interrogated Williams for 2 days when they shared a hotel room for a track meet they were both participants in.
Williams has reported that he retired at age 30 because he considered 10 years in the sport at that time was a good career - with the sport being neither as lucrative as it is now, nor having the same level of facilities available for the care of athletes' bodies. Williams believes that in terms of the financial returns for athletes he actively helped move the sport from the amateur world that existed, that led to earlier sprinting greats like Jesse Owens and Bob Hayes to leave the sport, to the professional world which later athletes, like Carl Lewis for one, could exploit to achieve a lucrative track career.
Joseph Durso of the NY Times has written about how Williams, after retiring, worked as a speed coach for the NY Mets baseball team. He is also reported to have worked for the New York Jets football team, the San Francisco 49ers football team, the Montreal Expos baseball team, and the U.S. Tennis Association.
Accolades and Awards
- Timed during 220 yards race in 1975, E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 307.
- Conversion from 440 yards time by subtracting 0.3 s, http://speedendurance.com/2007/07/20/440-yard-and-400-meter-racing-facts-and-figures/ 440 Yard and 400 Meter Racing – Facts and Figures.
- From 1 January 1977, imperial distances were no longer recognised for world-record purposes by the IAAF.
- A probable place in the sprint relay team was denied by the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics.
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 103
- http://www.iaaf.org/athletes/biographies/letter=w/athcode=234180/index.html IAAF, Athletes Biographies
- http://www.alltime-athletics.com/m_400ok.htm#5 All-time performances 400 m. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 309.
- http://www.sporting-heroes.net/athletics-heroes/displayhero.asp?HeroID=10679 www.sporting-heroes.net
- http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/archive/usa-nat-champs-history.html A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2003, Track and Field News, Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- 1977 IAAF World Cup Results
- 1977 World Cup Mens 100m - Steve Williams on YouTube
- http://www.iaaf.org/wcp10/news/newsid=56584.html Butler's World Cup Top-10 Men's Moments - IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup
- 1977 World Cup 4x100m relay - men on YouTube
- Guinness Book Of Records 22nd Edition, October 1975, Guinness Superlatives Ltd and Norris & Ross McWhirter, p 327.
- http://ifnt.fizyka.amu.edu.pl/tw/la/sta/hrs/m-wrp.htm World Record Progression
- Mens all-time best performances
- http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZhETjrWtzwwC&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=steve+williams+sprinter&source=bl&ots=ca2eMinN0Y&sig=O4Br6NxMn67AEQJ3mlx2t2K2NH8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pdv9Tr7UNpHy8QPW3oyhAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CIUBEOgBMA4#v=onepage&q=steve%20williams%20sprinter&f=false Boy's Life, July 1976
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1091036/index.htm Sports Illustrated, May 3, 1976
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1091140/index.htm Sports Illustrated, May 31, 1976
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19760620&id=ICYcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wlYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6798,1262883 "Sprinter Williams Limps at Trials", Pittsburgh Press, June 20, 1976.
- http://www.usatf.org/statistics/champions/OlympicTrials/HistoryOfTheOlympicTrials.pdf The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field, R Hymans, USA Track & Field, 2008
- http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/archive/Interviews/steve%20williams.pdf Archived Track and Field News Interview from December 1974 by Jon Hendershott, Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- http://astheysawit.com/11510-1973-track-and-field.html As they saw it, 1973: Track and Field
- http://www.alltime-athletics.com/m_100yok.htm#2 All-time best performances at 100 yards with manual timing
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1087488/index.htm Sports Illustrated, June 25, 1973
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1087641/1/index.htm Sports Illustrated, August 6, 1973
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19730724&id=uJFYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=WfgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4407,2777259 "Yank Sprinter Victor", Associated Press, Spokane Daily Chronicle, July 24, 1973.
- http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/images/stories/tfn_pdfs/ncaa_history_pdfs/ncaam200.pdf 200 Metres, A History of the NCAA Championships, Track and Field News.
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1087488/index.htm "The Short And The Long Of It", Ron Reid, Sports Illustrated, June 25, 1973.
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1091422/1/index.htm Sports Illustrated, August 16, 1976
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1091140/2/index.htm "Steve Said So Sorry But I Gotta Run ", Sports Illustrated, May 31, 1976.
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19760328&id=xLoqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=LmcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3365,4892166 Sarasota Herald Tribune March 28, 1976
- Duncanson N, The Fastest Men on Earth, p. 187
- http://astheysawit.com/12763-1977-track-and-field.html As they saw it, 1977: Track and Field
- Recorded Interview with Jimson Lee, speedendurance.com, 7 March 2012
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1092810/index.htm - View the issue - Sports Illustrated, September 12, 1977, p. 22
- "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
- "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
- "World Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
- "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
- "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 400 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
- 1972 Year Rankings at 400m
- http://speedendurance.com/2007/07/20/440-yard-and-400-meter-racing-facts-and-figures/ 440 Yard and 400 Meter Racing – Facts and Figures
- 1973 Year Rankings at 100m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 303.
- 1974 Year Rankings at 100m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 305.
- 1975 Year Rankings at 100m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 306.
- 1976 Year Rankings at 100m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 308.
- 1977 Year Rankings at 100m
- 1978 Year Rankings at 100m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 310.
- 1973 Year Rankings at 200m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 304.
- 1974 Year Rankings at 200m
- 1975 Year Rankings at 200m
- 1976 Year Rankings at 200m
- 1977 Year Rankings at 200m
- 1978 Year Rankings at 200m
- 1980 Year Rankings at 200m
- E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 312.
- http://www.usatf.org/statistics/USA-Champions/USAIndoorTF/men/60m.aspx USA Indoor Track & Field Champions, Men's 60 m, USA Track and Field.
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1734&dat=19750627&id=k-kbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4FEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3559,5582721 The Dispatch, Lexington N.C., June 27, 1975
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1135647/2/index.htm Sports illustrated, 19th Hole, February 4, 1974
- https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:ugDfS4uGFLEJ:www.blacksportsthemagazine.com/Magazines/Nov07.pdf+evander+childs+high+school+%22steve+williams%22&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgMMtsiTuRcDFAGtwn-IZpYno2GtO-FbORIa6FWi56HL87vRHnM0Grz5JfKhyo-XCpUGME5SofEm3UUIwmqskje-eCaKoyJR03Dyq1VpiJl0Ff5lsu25fBPWvRDrg6l3PaKfJsK&sig=AHIEtbRdfAcDW5JkD_FGEwkkRQ4KtJftbA Black Sports The Magazine (BSTM), Vol. 11, November 2007.
- http://articles.latimes.com/1989-03-22/sports/sp-206_1_sprinter-williams Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1989
- Recorded Interview with Jimson Lee, speedendurance.com, 12 March 2012
- C Lewis & J Marx, Carl Lewis: Inside Track, p 45.
- http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/28/sports/mets-trying-to-speed-up-baserunners.html?src=pm New York Times, February 28, 1989
- http://tickets.armorytrack.com/News/Post/new-yorker-joins-hall 'New Yorker Joins Hall', Brett Hoover, Amory Track, 14 November 2013.
- http://article.wn.com/view/2013/11/13/USATF_announces_2013_Hall_of_Fame_class_USATF_USA_Track_Fiel/ 'USATF announces 2013 Hall of Fame class (USATF - USA Track & Field)', wn.com, 13 November 2013.
- Duncanson, Neil, "The Fastest Men on Earth", Andre Deutsch, 2011.
- R L Quercetani & G Pallicca, "A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005", SEP Editrice Srl, 2006.
- C Lewis & J Marx, "Carl Lewis: Inside Track", Pelham Books, 1990.
- Track and Field News Cover, II May 1973 (with Rick Wohlhuter)
- Track and Field News Cover, II July 1974
- Track and Field News Cover, August 1975 (with Don Quarrie)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW2d6KgeQXs 1977 World Cup Mens 100m - Steve Williams
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4074SMMcQ-A 1977 World Cup 4x100m relay - men
- http://speedendurance.com/2012/03/07/steve-williams-greatest-sprinter-who-never-went-to-the-olympics-interview/, Steve Williams, Greatest Sprinter who Never Went to the Olympics [INTERVIEW], Jimson Lee, 7 March 2012, speedendurance.com.
- http://speedendurance.com/2012/03/12/dirty-business-side-of-track-field-interview-steve-williams-part-2/, The “Dirty Business” Side of Track & Field [Interview with Steve Williams, Part 2], Jimson Lee, 12 March 2012, speedendurance.com.