With a solitary win in her name this season – the 30-year-old Jamaican Danielle Williams had not been among the top athletes at the ongoing World Athletics Championship in Budapest.
As indicated by Williams, she had been hustling other top rivals throughout the year, “and they have been kicking me left, right and centre”.
However, she retaliated at the National Athletic Centre on Thursday night (August 24, 2023) with an unquestionably show-stopper.
Eight years on from her 100m hurdles win in Beijing – where she timed a then PB of 12.57 to win – Williams rehashed the accomplishment, holding off Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and USA’s Kendra Harrison to win in a season’s best of 12.43.
This is the fifth-fastest season of Williams’ career, behind the 12.32 PB she set in London in 2019.
Camacho-Quinn, who won the Olympic championship in Tokyo and took home bronze in Oregon last year, fixed up for the final with 12 wins to her name, including from the heats and semifinals in Budapest.
Harrison, the former world record-holder who guaranteed world silver in 2019 and Olympic silver in Tokyo, had finished in the top two in every one of her 12 races this season, also including wins in the earlier rounds in Budapest. She clocked 12.24 – the fourth-fastest time in history – to win her heat.
Williams, in the mean time, finished third in her heat and third again in the semifinal round, progressing to the final on time.
The 2019 world champion who started at the World Championships as the world leader with 12.30 started off well in her tracks, just like Bahamian Devynne Charlton, who claimed world indoor silver last year. But in her rush to the first barrier, Charlton ceased moving.
Ali wasn’t able to recover and that gave Williams even more space on the far side. She ran her own race, narrowly holding off the chase from Camacho-Quinn in lane seven and Harrison in lane four.
After crossing the finish line they faced a nervous wait while the winner was confirmed, and as Williams saw her name flash up first, she screamed and sprinted away in celebration.
Camacho-Quinn went one better than her Oregon bronze, securing silver in 12.44, while Harrison’s bronze medal-winning time was 12.46.
Charlton, who set a national record of 12.44 in the heats, recovered from clattering the first hurdle to finish fourth in 12.52, while Jamaica’s 21-year-old NCAA champion Ackera Nugent was fifth (12.61), Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan sixth (12.62), Switzerland’s Ditaji Kambundji seventh (12.70) and Ali eighth (12.78).
“I knew it was going to be tough. I came out here knowing that I could win, but I would have to give everything I had. I still don’t believe I won against such a stellar field,” said Williams.
“My starts have always been good. The finish is usually my problem, but I spoke to my sister yesterday and she said I need to make sure to race over all the hurdles because I wasn’t going flat out through all of them. Today, I was determined to take it all the way.
“When I won in 2015 it was unbelievable, but this took a lot of hard work, a lot of years of toil and injuries, and losing my confidence and battling to get back to this stage. It’s awesome. Jamaica is a proud country and we love to win. I love to win.”
On day six of the championships, Williams’ gold was the first for Jamaica in Budapest and around 15 minutes later another arrived thanks to Antonio Watson’s 400m win.
Meanwhile, Camacho-Quinn was satisfied with her silver.
“I’m not upset at all,” she said. “After I won a bronze at the last World Championships, now I have a silver. If I add my Olympic gold medal, I have the whole collection to be proud of.”