Williams-Darling just the Tonique for ComGames

Williams-Darling gunning for Commonwealth Games gold

Tonique Williams-Darling of Bahamas
(Photo by Photo Reflect)

by Gary Smith
Caribbean Net News Correspondent
Email: gary@caribbeannetnews.com
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
SYDNEY, Australia: Bahamas’ World and Olympic 400-metres champion Tonique Williams-Darling has announced that she will be going for another gold medal next season, this time it’s the Commonwealth Games title in Melbourne next March.

Going for another down under

The Bahamian, who finished the year as the second best performer behind Jamaican-born American sprinter Sanya Richards with a time of 49.30seconds, was eying the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, but has now added the Commonwealth Games title to her agenda.

“I decided to focus on Australia,” Williams-Darling told the Herald Sun last week.

"I had my eyes on indoors (world championships in Moscow) and my coach was asking what I was going to do because the Commonwealths are relatively early in the season.

"I’m like, ‘I’ve got to go to the Commonwealths, that is the only option’.

“We’re all really excited about it. Everyone is talking about it. I’m telling you athletes are talking about it non-stop. We want to go to Australia for the Games.”

First visit already behind

When 28-year-old Williams-Darling, made her international debut visit at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in Australia was a disappointing outcome, as her Games ended after the first round.

However, the Bahamian has long eclipsed those dull moments and said she only remembers the time she had off the track.

“My Games was literally over on the first day,” she said.

"It was somewhat of a wake-up call, I was in the first round of the 400m and I didn’t make it through.

"The upside of it was that I got to see a lot of Sydney.

“I remember going out at 7pm and not getting back to the village until 7am,” she added.

Although she maintains the fact that her best times came off the track, Williams-Darling said she could forget Cathy Freeman’s stunning performance on the track.

“It was beautiful and perfect for Sydney,” she said of the performance of Freeman, who struck gold on home soil in the 400m.

"It is great to have that kind of thing happen at home.

“Just knowing that everybody was depending on her and came out to support her . . . she just did it so beautifully, from the suit she wore to lighting the torch at the opening ceremony.”

She added: “I hope Cathy can give me a medal if I win one. I’m one of her biggest fans.”

Adjusted in time to succeed

After totally dismissing the bitter rivalry with Mexican quarter-mile powerhouse Ana Guevara, by ending her 28-meeting winning streak, Williams-Darling found a new rival last season in Richards.

However, even though the American dominated on the grand prix circuit, the Bahamian picked her timing right, used her experience, and conquered all at the World Championships in Helsinki last summer with a time 49.69 seconds.

“Everything kind of came together and it worked perfectly,” the proud Bahamian, who recently donated the gear to the IAAF for charity auction said.

"It was a matter of knowing what works and having the maturity to know what works.

"A lot of athletes don’t know, especially the talented ones.

“Once you put all the stuff together, you will do great. That’s what worked for me.”

A celebrity at large

Since winning the 400m title in Athens there have been many expectations from the Bahamian super-star, including Helsinki’s fine performance, which left her having to bear the title of a “celebrity”.

“The opportunities started coming from the second I walked off the track and they are still happening today as a result of that medal,” she said.

"You start to experience a whole new lifestyle.

"I came home and I had this status of celebrity, which I found funny. People were saying you’re a celebrity and I say, ‘No, I’m Tonique Williams-Darling, I’m nobody’.

"I’ve changed as a person because now I have to adapt to all these different roles but I’m looking forward to pushing this as far as it can go.

"I want to use everything that I have accomplished to help others, to glorify God.

“The bigger purpose is not even about my athletics accomplishments. It’s about what I can do for others.”

Rewarding her for her accomplishments in track and field, the Bahamian government donated a house worth up to $1 million as well as having one of the country’s highways renamed after her.