What’s in a name? Pure gold.
EUGENE -- When Team USA arrived for IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, the confusion began with three athletes, all with the same name but each with a different spelling, who had no idea their similar first names granted a Midas touch of golden proportions.
Kendall Baisden, Kendal Williams and Kendell Williams all won gold at World Juniors, and they combined for total of five gold medals. In fact, according to the medal tally and a web editor at the IAAF on Twitter, “Had all the Kendall/Kendal/Kendells been entered as a separate country, they'd have been second in [overall gold medals].”
Kendall Baisden, or the “A” with two “Ls,” is a 400 meter runner from Austin, Texas, who attends the University of Texas. She became a two-time World Junior gold medalist at the 2014 event, where she strided in for the crown in the women’s open 400m in 51.85 on the fifth day of competition. One day later, she ran the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay team, posting a comfortable finish in 3:30.42 for the fastest Junior time in the world this year.
“Wow!” said Baisden upon learning all three similarly named athletes had won gold. “I didn’t even realize that, but I guess there is a hidden power behind the name!” With her own spelling, she said, “Go Kendalls!”
Kendal 100-meter Williams, or Kendal - “A - L,” is the male athlete from Jacksonville, Florida, who flew slightly under the radar but came out with huge performances. Williams had a two-medal performance at IAAF World Junior Championships, coming away with back-to-back golds in the 100m and 4x100m relay. Williams took the crown July 23 in the men’s 100m, clocking 10.21 for his second lifetime best of the championships. He also won gold July 26 in the men’s 4x100m relay, which finished with the third fastest time in world junior history.
“It’s actually pretty sweet,” he said of their titles and achievements. “And we all won in individual events. Kendal/all/ell might be a lucky name!”
Kendell “E-L-L” Williams is from Marietta, Georgia, and she competes collegiately at the University of Georgia. Through the middle barriers in her 100m hurdles final, she continued to inch up on teammate Dior Hall, who was running the race of her life. The Georgia native managed to edge just past Hall for the gold in 12.89 for a meet record.
“I think it’s so funny,” says the female Kendell Williams about the golden touch. “I obviously knew that they were both very talented athletes, so I knew it was possible. It’s just so funny that Kendal, Kendall, Kendell all got gold. It’s an incredible feeling.”