By Abbie Maguire
LAST WEEK, Welsh professional athlete, Rhys Williams, visited William Edwards School and Sports College and provided many words of wisdom to the aspiring young sportsmen. He told the audience of about thirty, clearly enthralled by his motivating question and answer, his best advice: “If you want something badly enough, you’ve got to work to get it. I’m a strong believer in hard work.”
He shocked me by revealing he may have ditched his sporting career, which he started when he began running hurdles at age 16, to become a businessman: “It was between business studies and sport. I asked myself if I was going to break my leg tomorrow, would I still want to run, and the answer was yes. My dad definitely inspired me by starting up his business from another. I’m inspired by my parents and family – inspiration is a lot closer to home for me.”
He also revealed one of his secrets: he will never wear flipflops! He explains: “I had a bone taken out of my foot and I have a massive scar. You wouldn’t catch me wearing flipflops – it isn’t pretty!”
Whilst he is a firm believer in being quietly confident as well as diligent, which I guessed from his humble demeanour and positive mindset, he revealed he is in a fact a “bad loser. I don’t like being beaten.
When I got my silver medal, I particularly disliked losing to another Welshman. The Americans are the guys to beat – which is why I have an American coach that gives me more technical experience.” But he later made known that: “I like doing stuff on my own back. If I lose, it’s my own fault.” When asked how he knew if he could be number one, he replied: “It was always in the back of my mind.
School sports, not so much in secondary school but in primary school where always to see who was the fastest.” He almost immediately added: “Always set up unrealistic goals but prepare to get to them realistically. There is no shortcut to success – I want to be a testament to hard work.” He later justified this motivational statement by enthusing: “My parents believed in doing lots of different sports and not just focusing on one sport. I spent half my life in the swimming pool. I have high standards from my dad and won’t stop until I meet them. It’s all about fight or flight – you can either get the best out of you or hide away from it.” He added: “It’s about finding what you’re good at because everyone is good at something. If you don’t believe you can do well, how can you do well? It’s your mind that controls your muscles.”
When asked what got the optimistic athlete into athletics, he enthused: “I would watch running on TV, I tried it and became addicted to it. When I had an injury, I realised how much I missed athletics and it became a way of life. It’s always good to have one day off if you can because then you can actually look forward to training.” Although he later said that there is more to running than just training: “What you don’t prepare for is being under stress. You’ve got to think of everything to get to be the best.”
When prompted to talk about the Olympics he said: “Now that I know the dates (3rd August) it becomes a bit more real, right on my doorstep.” He also revealed his predictions for Britain’s success: “I think Britain will do really good in sailing, rowing and cycling. Athletics is tough because anyone can run; you just need a pair of trainers.”