Athletics: Williams takes giant leap to America
TRIPLE jump prospect Ben Williams has signed a $150,000 scholarship with an American university he hopes will give him a giant leap towards the next Olympics.
The 2009 World Youth champion will attend the University of Louisville in January to have his progress overseen by some of the best of the best jumps coaches in the United States.
A conversation with a friend led the 20-year-old, who has completed his studies at Newcastle College, finding doors opened on the other side of the Atlantic.
Chester Jets basketball player Ryan Adams introduced Williams to Steve Gillatt, a senior partner in specialist sports recruitment company HarvardGlobal, who agreed to help him follow his dream – on the understanding Williams bought him a ticket to see him jump at Rio 2016.
Within three weeks, Louisville's track and field head coach Ron Mann had flown to Manchester to meet Williams and Gillatt and complete the four-year deal.
Williams said: "It is an amazing opportunity for me to work with the likes of coaches who guided Brittney Reese to the women's gold in London this summer.
"Everything is paid for and geared up to helping me reach my potential.
"I won't be severing any links to my present coach John Crotty, who has been amazing with me and I hope will always be there to offer me advice.
"It might be difficult for me setting up so far away, but I feel this is the right thing for me to do at the right time."
The scholarship is a full ride to one of the best athletics programs in the States, including accommodation, food, travelling and tuition costs.
It also includes travel to competitions in the country, as well as flights to major European competitions and the cost of flying coaching staff with Williams.
He said: "I've started training and I'm feeling strong."
Williams now has to pass his SATs, the American test for college admissions, in English and mathematics and his next competition will be in the United States.
"We are pleased to have Ben on board," said Mann.
"I'm also very pleased to have worked with Steve and welcome him to our family of global recruitment scouts."