For many of us, the 2008 Olympics are an event of the past. However, for BYU athletic trainer Dustin Williams, there is a second round of the Olympics that is just beginning.
Over 200 U.S. athletes entered Beijing, China on Saturday Sept.6,2008 to compete against hundreds of other athletes around the world, all with one thing in common-some sort of physical disability. Having been selected to be one of the athletic trainers for the U.S. team, Williams plays a very active role in determining how these athletes will perform in the 2008 Paralympic Games.
"These athletes have overcome adversity and are still able to succeed and represent the U.S.,” said Williams. “To think that I get to play a small part in helping them accomplish their dreams as individuals and as Olympic athletes is amazing.”
Williams first began working with the U.S. Paralympic Team about three years ago. He was working at an Olympic training center when one day a team called the Paralympic GoalBall came in and Williams was assigned to work with them.
It did not take long for Williams to prove himself as a qualified athletic trainer, and he was quickly asked to attend the championships in South Carolina as an official trainer for the team. Williams accepted.
“The team took bronze that year and it was amazing to watch what this team could do,” said Williams. “I knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
After the championships, Williams’ wish came true. He has continued to help train the team through correspondence. He mails, phones, and occasionally travels for various trainings. He previously worked in Lake Placid, N.Y. for a year, helping the team get ready for its events.
“What I’ve learned most in this job is that having determination to accomplish your goals is very important for success,” said Williams. “These athletes push themselves so hard and are great athletes as well as incredible people that I am always learning from.”
Williams contributes his passion for athletic training these athletes to his mother, a special education teacher in Idaho.
“My mom is a special ed teacher and she has always taught me patience and nurturing for those with disabilities,” said Williams. “I owe her a lot of respect for what she’s done for me. I feel like I represent her as well when I go and do things like this. She’s a little jealous that I get to be there and she doesn’t but she’s a great support to me.”
Also involved in the 2008 Games are two Utah locals, Jeff Townsend from Provo and Jeff Griffin from West Jordan. The two men are alternates in wheelchair basketball and are cheering for their teammates who are in Beijing.
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