That mark provisionally qualified her for the Olympic rials as just a high school sophomore. By the first week of June, she knew she was headed to the Olympic trials.
She leaves today to take on America’s best in Eugene, Ore. The Olympic trials for the high jump begin Thursday with the finals scheduled for Saturday.
“I couldn’t believe it. When my coaches told me I made ‘A’ standard, ‘I was like oh funny joke. There’s no way I could go. Do they even let 15-year-olds into the Olympic trials?’ It’s a huge deal for me,” she said.
Williams said she looks forward to being around the other elite jumpers and maybe picking up some tips. She certainly will be among some impressive company. Amy Acuff will be attempting to qualify for her fifth straight Olympics and her qualifying mark of 1.95 meters is tied with two other athletes for second best. However, one athlete has cleared two meters and is the favorite to qualify first for the U.S. squad. Chaunte Lowe has a mark of 2.02m this year.
Williams’ qualifying height of 1.87m puts her in the middle of the pack of qualifiers, but it was the top performance by high school competitors.
“I’m not nervous because I know I have nothing to lose. I’m just going to go in for the experience,” Williams said. “I know in the next four years if I go, I’m going to have to be competitive, so I’m just going to enjoy it now.”
The top three jumpers qualify for the Olympics, but there will be three alternates originally. When the team heads to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic games, only one alternate will travel across the pond.
Williams will be headed to the Olympic trials as a two-time Gatorade Nevada Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. She earned the award for the second straight year a week ago.
The honor not only recognizes athletic greatness but also academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
This year on the track, Williams was a three-time state champion in individual events. She won the 100m hurdles with a time of 14.11 seconds and the 300m hurdles in 42.86 seconds. Williams repeated as a state champion in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 11 inches at the state meet. She also was part of the 4x400m relay squad that took first at state.
“When I think about what sets Gabby apart from the rest of her competition is her dedication, work ethic and her love of competition,” Reed track coach Dale Moss said. “She is always constantly working on her skills, especially her weaknesses. When she is asked to do something by her coaches, even when it is harder or above her current abilities, she says she can do it.”
Williams maintained a weighted 3.59 grade-point average and volunteered locally, providing Christmas gifts to disadvantaged children. She has worked as a youth basketball coach and instructor.