With more than 120 track and field athletes on Team USA at the 2012 Olympics, it took an army of support staff to help them prepare for the biggest competition stage in the world. Even the world’s top athletes need help to get to the podium, and Dustin Williams is one of the world’s best at helping them get there.
Williams received his start as a graduate student at Utah State, where he helped the athletic training staff. Early in his career he worked on medical staffs for various USA Track & Field international teams, and eventually served on world championship teams in 2009 and 2011.
While Williams has covered numerous championships with USATF, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials will always be a special event, because it would alter his life forever. While working at the Trials, he had his first interaction with his future wife, Jillian Camarena-Williams.
“I had heard about Jillian back in 2004,” said Williams excitedly. “So in 2008, I got the opportunity to do some training work on her, and I made sure to tell her, ‘make sure to come back if you need anything else.’”
With Williams’ help, Camarena-Williams made her first Olympic team. From that moment, the two began to develop a relationship, first as friends, then in May of 2009, Williams asked her to marry him. The two married weeks after the 2009 World Outdoor Championships in Berlin.
One of the biggest thrills for the couple came at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, South Korea, where Camarena-Williams’ 20.02m/65-8.25 performance in the shot put earned her a bronze medal. She also made history by becoming the first U.S. woman to achieve an outdoor world championships medal in the shot put.
Camarena-Williams and Williams at 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials ©Image of Sport
“It was amazing to be there in the stands and watch her,” Williams said. “Jillian worked so hard to get to that level, she had overcome a lot of adversity. To be there with her and celebrate with her was just amazing.”
Making it to the Olympics has always been a goal for Williams ever since his days as a high school athlete. Williams specialized in the 1,500m and 3,200m, but never made it to the elite level.
“It was great to be a part of the Olympics to be able help athletes achieve their dreams and goals,” Williams said. “Being in the Olympics was one of my goals as an athlete, but to be there and be a part of that was an amazing feeling.”
Becoming a member of the Olympic team medical staff is a multi-step process of being selected by USATF, completing the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Volunteer Medical Program and being nominated to the USOC.
“There are no guarantees you’ll be chosen,” Williams said. “The USOC has to agree in order for you to become a member of the Olympic staff.”
Williams remembers the day he found out he was accepted.
“It was definitely a great feeling,” Williams said. “My wife was a little jealous that I knew before her I was going to the Olympics. My Facebook status read, ‘found out today I was selected for the Olympics. Now I just have to get my wife there and it will be a good family affair.’”
When he is not traveling with Team USA on national teams, Williams works at the University of Arizona as the athletic trainer for the cross country and track and field teams, where Jillian is also a volunteer assistant coach for the throws.
Over the past 10 years, Williams has enjoyed the privilege of looking after the nation's best athletes, but along the way he has also had his share of humorous moments. The 34-year-old Williams is still in excellent shape and is commonly mistaken for an athlete while he is traveling with national teams. Flattered by the attention, Williams will try to explain he is not competing. But at times when the language barrier is an issue, he’ll simply smile and sign a few autographs.
For Williams, it is all a part of being the team behind the team.
USA Track & Field