Toni-Ann Williams makes history as the first Jamaican gymnast to qualify for Olympics.
With a strong performance Sunday at the Olympic test event, Cal gymnast Toni-Ann Williams qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Williams will be the first female gymnast to represent Jamaica at the Olympics. She finished 38th overall in the test event with a 52.931 total in the all-around. Her best score was a 14.066 on vault, which ranked 24th. She also finished in the top 35 on beam (13.666, 29th) and floor (13.366, 32nd). Williams earned an 11.833 on bars.
“What an amazing accomplishment,” Cal and Jamaica head coach Justin Howell said in a news release. “It’s a little surreal at the moment, but we believed without a doubt that she would qualify.”
Williams balanced her Olympic training with her responsibilities to Cal. The Randallstown, Md., native earned a pair of All-Pac-12 First Team honors, her second West Region Gymnast of the Year award and her fourth career Regular-Season All-America title. To compete at the Rio Olympic Test Event, she missed the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.
“The rigor of Cal prepares our student-athletes for excellence,” said Howell, who was named NACGC/W National Head Coach of the Year after. “This is proof that gymnastics at the college level and gymnastics at the international level can go hand-in-hand.”
Howell will accompany Williams to Rio as head coach of the Jamaican National Team. Earlier in the test event, Cal men’s gymnastics’ Ryan Patterson qualified to represent South Africa in Rio. He will be joined by men’s gymnastics assistant coach JT Okada, the head coach for South Africa.
Article by Connor Letourneau for www.sfgate.com
Photo by Matthias Schrader / AP