Australia’s fastest man had eyes for NRL
AUSTRALIA'S fastest man Trae Williams admits he does sometimes wonder about his decision to run from a possible NRL career when he watches a weekend game on television.
Williams played schoolboy rugby union for St John's Anglican College and rugby league for Souths Acacia Ridge, the junior club that produced Broncos playmaker Anthony Milford.
Williams, 20, said he is capable of bettering his 10.10 sec personal best today in the Commonwealth Games 100m, which he clocked in February, the fastest 100m time by an Australian since 2007.
Williams and countrymen Rohan Browning and Josh Clarke have the 100m heats this afternoon, with the semi-finals later today at Carrara Stadium.
Williams, the diminutive Logan sprinter with the massive quadricep muscles and the instinctive start to races, is also a one-time league halfback who reckons he had fast hands as well as fast feet
Cowboys football manager Peter Parr said Williams had attended several of the club's academy training sessions in Brisbane in 2014, used to evaluate talent, but no contract offer had been made to him.
"I'm told he went to four or five sessions. He got into the academy on how quick he was,'' Parr said.
Had Williams pursued a NRL career, he would have needed to improve his defence, which was obvious, due to his relatively small stature.
Williams was agonising in 2014 over which sport he should choose when he won a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games.
Athletics Australia says it was the first men's 100m medal by an Australian at a global meet in the sport since the late Hector Hogan, also a Queenslander, at the 1956 Olympics.
"I never considered myself that fast until I won my first state title when I was 15," said Williams.
"I had the opportunities to decide if I went to rugby league.
"I was a halfback or winger, but I'm glad I made the decision I did. Where I am today, I'm pretty happy."
Williams said he and his father and coach Daniel have planned in recent weeks to replicate the preparation which won him Games selection in the last race possible at February's national titles at Carrara.
The Queenslander then kept his powder dry for the Games, not racing against Jamaica's former 100m world champion Yohan Blake and other world-class sprinters at a meet in Brisbane last week.
"Probably in the semi I'd need to run 10.1 sec to make the final. I know I can do it,'' he said.
"I'm in PB shape. To race against these overseas guys will be an amazing experience.
"I knew I had it in me (to run 10.10). Life's been a little different for me since then, although I'm still the same old person - I won't change. If I'm feeling pressure I have to find a way to put it behind me.''
STEFFENSEN BACKS TRAE TO MEDAL
POWERHOUSE sprinter Trae Williams can medal in the 100m and become a national hero according to former Commonwealth Games champion John Steffensen.
Steffensen did just that in the 400m at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and is predicting Williams is capable of being the breakout athlete on the Gold Coast.
The 20-year-old, who has been dubbed 'Quadzilla' because of the size of his thighs, ran 10.10sec at the Games selection trials in February to announce himself as a legitimate contender.
Steffensen was at Carrara that evening and came away convinced Australia had discovered a sprint star of the future.
"I'm telling you that kid will not surprise me if he makes the final and won't be overly surprised if he slips in there for a medal," Steffensen said.
"He's the real deal. I honestly think Trae Williams is a warrior, he gets to the line and legitimately gives it a crack. He can do something special."
Steffensen was more advanced in his career than Williams when he had his career highlight in Melbourne given he'd made the world championships final in the 400m the previous year in Helsinki.
But the advantage he had in the timing of the Games is the same for Williams with his opponents not used to peaking in April.
"I know there is Yohan Blake and these South African guys but you have to understand they're running on our calendar right now and that is huge in the world of sprinting," Steffensen said.
"It's very big because the nervous system isn't ready to bang out the times we're expecting from them.
"I'm telling you if the kid lifts for the crowd he can do a Johnny Steff moment, 100 per cent."
Steffensen is expecting it will take a sub-10 second performance to win the gold. Jamaica's former world record holder Asafa Powell won the gold in Melbourne in 10.03sec.
Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole won the title in Glasgow in 2014, clocking 10.00sec from England's Adam Gemili (10.10sec).
"The way Trae handled himself at the nationals two months ago, I really liked what I saw and these guys are going to have their hands full with this kid," Steffensen said.
"He's limited in certain areas but what I like about him is he takes his limitations and turns them into a positive.
"He exploits what he's good at which is getting out and turning over. And he's learning to hold on and get the best out of himself.
"I think it's awesome watching this guy."
Blake, the 2011 world champion, is the gold medal favourite with a personal best of 9.90sec while his Jamaican teammate Julian Forte brings in a career best of 9.91sec.
Only three other Australians have run faster than Williams with Patrick Johnson's 9.93sec in Japan in 2003 the national 100m record.
The best performance by an Australian sprinter in recent times at the Commonwealth Games belongs to Matt Shirvington who clocked 10.03sec to finish fourth in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur.
The 100m heats and semi-finals kick off the opening day of the track and field program tomorrow.