Williams finished fifth overall in the final round of the high jump at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., securing herself a spot as an alternate for the team headed to London and the 2012 Summer Games.
Approaching her first jump at 6 feet, 2.25 inches, the Reed standout was one of eight women left vying for a spot on the U.S. team. After missing the mark on her first attempt, Williams jumped up and over the 6-2.25 bar, a personal record for Williams. The individual achievement was not the only record that Williams set as the jump etched her name into the U.S. track and field record books, tying the American mark for a 15-year-old. Olympians Briggeta Barrett and Chaunte Lowe recognized the significance of the feat and rushed over to Williams to congratulate her.
“Oh my gosh, I was shaking after that,” Williams said. “That was so amazing. Then Chaunte and Brigetta came and hugged me. It was just great. It took me a while to register what I just did.”
The jump proved good enough to garner Williams an Olympic alternate bid as three of the final eight bowed out of the competition at the same mark. Locking up an alternate role was surely a significant moment for Williams, but it may not have been the highlight of her trip to Eugene.
Taking her turn at the next mark of 6-3.50, Williams was unable to clear the bar in three attempts. After Williams clipped the bar on her third and final effort, the crowd at Hayward Field sent the youngest athlete in the Olympic trials off with a standing ovation as she finished fifth overall.
“The crowd is what got me over 6-2.25 so that was a great moment,” Williams said. “They seriously motivate you so much. I felt like crying.”
After being eliminated from the competition, Williams soaked in the crowd’s recognition and worked her way to her family. Before she could get to them though she had some Olympian-like business to take care of.
“It took me a while to get to them because there were people there asking for my autograph and stuff,” Williams said. “When I did get through though I was just so happy to see them.”
To start the contest, Williams cleared the opening height of 5-10.50 with ease on her first try before struggling with the bar at 6-0.50. Williams missed on her first two attempts but facing elimination from the contest, she managed to keep her Olympic dreams alive with a clear on her third go-round.
“I just tried not to panic,” Williams said. “I just didn't really think about my first two attempts. I thought 'Even if I miss it, I just want to do everything right' and I did and that's what got me over.”
While Williams is a standby for the 2012 Olympics, which open on Friday, July 27, she already has her eyes set on the 2016 Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“After this year I know I can do it,” Williams said. “I’m going to have four years to prepare so I know I can do it. I just have to stick with it. I just really want to get into that atmosphere again.”