Jul. 19—Despite coming in with a torn muscle in her foot, Cobb County native Kendell Williams was able to complete six of the seven legs of the heptathlon Sunday and Monday at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon.
The 27-year-old Williams, a two-time Olympian who finished fifth in the event at the Tokyo Games last year, had a torn plantar fascia in her left foot, leaving her far from prime condition to contend in one of the most grueling discipline in women's track and field.
She made it through all four events Sunday — the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200 dash — and the first two events Monday — the long jump and javelin — but was unable to compete in the final leg of the heptahlon, the 800 run.
Most of Williams' marks in her events were near the bottom of the standings, but she took it as a victory for just being able to compete. She was 13th of 13 remaining competitors before her withdrawal prior to the 800.
"All of my doctors back home were saying that it was not going to be possible for me to even run, let alone jump, so I'm I guess kind of defying everything right now being able to finish Day 1," Williams told The Oregonian on Sunday. "Obviously, the numbers are not reflective of what I normally do, but I was just happy that I was able to get out here and do something because it was a struggle to even get out of the blocks a week ago. A lot of the stuff I'm doing for the very first time.
"As soon as I crossed the line after hurdles, I feel like I already won because even that was way far beyond what I thought. Each event after has been a little victory."
Williams was coming off a bronze-medal showing at the indoor pentathlon earlier this year in Serbia. She was a four-time Georgia Gatorade track and field athlete of the year during her time at Kell High School and a seven-time national champion at the University of Georgia.
Belgium's Nafissatou Thiam, the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist, won the world championships gold with 6,947 points, followed by the Netherlands' Anouk Vetter (6,867) and the United States' Anna Hall (6,755). Hall became the first American to medal in the heptathlon at worlds since 2001.
Fellow Americans Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler (5,974) and Michelle Atherley (5,959) were 11th and 12th, respectively.