Sixteen-year-old Dacorum hurdler, Ralph Williams, has just returned from the CSSF Under 18 World Student Games with a prestigious gold medal in the sprint hurdles. This is a remarkable achievement particularly as it is his first International athletics medal.
The U18 Student World Games were held in Bucharest, Romania last week where Great Britain’s athletes competed against teams from Spain, Brazil, Czech Republic, Austria, Portugal, in a variety of sports including football, basketball, swimming and athletics.
Back in February Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors published an article, when Ralph received his selection and Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning invited Ralph to his constituency office to pledge his support.
Ralph was able to secure the funding he required, thanks to local businesses, and both he and his mum Belinda were keen to share his success. “I am hoping you can update The Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors, as it will show Dacorum that their faith and assistance has led to fantastic rewards for a young local athlete.”
The 4 x 100 relay was one of the first events to be held where James Gordon (Avon) Michael Graham (North East) and Peter Adeosun (Avon) got the baton to Ralph in fourth place where his blistering run overtook Belgium and Malta to earn the team a silver medal.
Ralph had to wait for the last day of the Games for the 110m Hurdles event. The heats were held early in the morning with Ralph winning Heat 2 ahead of the French and Austrian athletes. His fastest heat time of 15.01 also gave him the best lane for the final where he was noticeably the smallest competitor.
In the final Ralph spent the first few hurdles trying to catch up to the tall frame of the French athlete Segui-Alain Jaouen and fortunately he was level by hurdle nine and managed to pull ahead by the last hurdle dipping at the line to win the race in a massive personal best time of 14.73 with Jaouen taking silver and Tijn Hoksbergen from Netherlands winning bronze.
At the closing ceremony the Great Britain athletes were awarded the ‘Fair play trophy’ which was gratefully received by Stephen Sanderson CBE on behalf of the team.
This has been a very busy time for Ralph as he was also selected to represent Hertfordshire in the U20 110m Hurdles at English Schools (Alexander Stadium, Birmingham) the previous week and he is now looking forward to a well-earned rest before he starts back at training.
Ralph would like to thank the businesses and people of Dacorum who helped him achieve his dream of competing for his country.