BYU graduate student wins bronze at track and field world championships


A BYU student returned home from her summer vacation with an additional souvenir.

Jillian Camarena-Williams, 29, a graduate student seeking a master’s degree in exercise science, made history as she became the first American woman to ever earn a medal in the shot put at the world championships. Her throw of 20.02 meters earned her a third-place finish and a bronze medal at the 2011 track and field world championships in Daegu, South Korea. The previous best American finish was fifth by Connie Price-Smith in 1997.

“This is an incredible feeling,” Camarena-Williams said. “It was such a proud moment for me to represent my country well and to see my flag raised on the medal stand. It’s been a great season, and this tops it off.”

Camarena-Williams went into the meet with high expectations after breaking the indoor American record and tying the outdoor American record during the 2011 season.

After her first three throws of the competition, Camarena-Williams sat in sixth place. On her fourth throw,  she launched the shot 20.02 meters and moved into second place.

“After the third round, I refocused and got my 20 meters,” she said. “Then I just had to hold on.”

In the fifth round, Belarus thrower Nadzeya Ostapchuk passed Camarena-Williams with a throw of 20.05 meters, moving Camarena-Williams into third.

During the ensuing rounds, Camarena-Williams said she began to get nervous that someone would pass her.

“It was so close through all the rounds. Everybody was passing each other,” she said.

Neither Ostapchuk nor Camarena-Williams improved on their final throws but finished with the silver and bronze medals, respectively, behind gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand.

The bronze medal performance was one Camarena-Williams has been hoping for. She battled injuries and back surgery to place a disappointing 12th in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Since then she moved to Provo to work on her master’s degree and met her husband, Dustin Williams, who is an athletic trainer. With the help of her husband, she has stayed healthy and began to reach her full potential.

With the 2012 London Olympics just around the corner, Camarena-Williams hopes to use her recent success as a stepping stone for the future. She and her husband will soon move to Tucson, Ariz., to begin full-time training with her coach, Craig Carter, who is the current throws coach at the University of Arizona.

“It has been an amazing season, a big builder going into next year,” she said. “Hopefully looking ahead to next year I can experience the same thing, but maybe a different color. There’s always a chance to get that gold so the work’s never done.”

Camarena-Williams will again represent the United States at the 2011 Pan America Games on Oct. 24-29 in Guadalajara, Mexico.




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