Island Time is supposed to run a little slow, but the same has never been said about 22-year-old Grand Turk sprinter Delano Williams.
With the Turks and Caicos “Golden Boy” set to burst onto the global stage tonight in Rio during the second heat of the first round in the Olympic 4×400 meters relay (local TV/cable channel, coverage starting about 8:10 p.m. EST), Olympic fever is sweeping the islands. Locals are planning watch parties. There’s excitement. There’s anticipation.
And that’s just for tonight’s qualifying heat. There’s no telling how the country will react if Williams is running for gold on Saturday night.
Because while other nations have entire teams at the games, Turks and Caicos has only one athlete — and he competes for Team Great Britain. For those who call the TCI home, the drama of the entire competition boils down to this one event, which happens to be one of the most dramatic and beastly in the entire world of track and field: Four sprinters per team, each running one brutal lap around the 400-meter oval. Unlike the 4×100 meter event, where relay teammates must stay in their lanes, the 4×400 frees runners to jostle for position after the first leg, before the field spreads out again for each hand-off of the baton.
That puts great significance on the man chosen to run the second leg, as he’s the one who must gain positional advantage for the team’s final two runners. And that’s where Williams has stepped in for Great Britain. At the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, Williams’ stellar second-leg performance brought his team from the back of the pack with a great start and a gutsy final stretch, lifting Team GB to third place and the eventual bronze medal. They repeated that finish at the European Games last month, with Williams taking the baton in fifth place but powering Team GB to first after his lap. They enter the Olympics as serious medal contenders.
Though he’s running for Great Britain — which currently trails only the United States in medals at the 2016 Olympics — he’ll have the entire Turks and Caicos wishing him luck tonight.
“I’m sure everyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands, or with a connection to them, will be willing Delano Williams on in the Olympic Games in Rio,” said Gov. Peter Beckingham. “But whatever the outcome everyone in Turks and Caicos should take pride in his participation in the world’s greatest sporting event.”
(Top Image credit: Laurent Lairys/Agence Locevaphotos / Alamy Stock Photo)
See below Williams in action at the European Games last month: