Jon and Bryan are joined by Wesley Williams to talk about his career as a Paralympic guide runner and how he found his purpose.
Our guest today is Paralympic Guide Runner Wesley Williams.
If you’re like me, you know about the Paralympics, but you maybe don’t know that much about how it actually works. Wesley Williams has been a Paralympic Guide Runner for his partner Lex Gillette for about 14 years, and he shares with us not just how events like the 100 meters and long jump are done, but all the aspects of coaching and training that go into them.
Wesley loved track and field since he was a child, but it wasn’t until he got involved in the Paralympics that his own track and field dreams were realized. He shares stories of his journey in the Paralympics, his preparations for Tokyo 2021, and why he wants to use his experience to grow opportunities for others.
Wes is a truly inspiring guy and I learned so much from this conversation.
We talk with Paralympic Guide Runner Wesley Williams about what it takes to do what he does, and how it’s influenced his mentality about life.
– Wesley’s childhood growing up in Visalia, California and how his family created the spark that got him into track and field
– What led him to compete for Cal State Northridge
– How Paralympian and hometown hero Jerome Avery opened the door for him to become a guide runner
– How he modeled his approach after Jerome Avery and the importance of building a strong human connection with the athletes you train
– His first impressions of the Paralympics and how those were quickly dispelled
– How he eventually became partners with Lex Gillette, and what makes Lex unique
His Experience as a Paralympian
– The role of a guide runner and some of the rules they need to adhere to
– How a Paralympic 100m race actually works, and some of the strategies guide runners use to run seamlessly with their partners
– How the Paralympic long jump works, and the “in and out” calling method he and Lex are known for
– His experience in Rio where Lex couldn’t hear his guidance on four of his six jumps due to the crowd noise
– Why he feels being a guide runner is what he was meant to do
– Some of the challenges facing Paralympic athletes, from getting into competitions to preparing for life after competition to gaining and keeping corporate sponsorship
– Why we need to think outside the box to create more and better opportunities for Paralympic athletes
– What it feels like to stand on the medal stand at the Paralympic Games
– How competing in the Paralympics and traveling the world changed his mentality, and fulfilled his athletic dreams in a way that his previous career hadn’t
Training for 2021 and His Future Plans
– How difficult it is to train for 2021 due to the restrictions on what facilities can be used
– His run-in with a wild bobcat while trying to do some hill work
– Wesley’s memory of Jon first telling him about the idea for Go Be More, back in 2007
– How it takes a village to raise a person and why he is creating a non-profit that aims to create those villages
– And why for Wesley, Go Be More means to go be somebody you never thought you could become
If you liked this episode, check out our interviews with track and field stars Coby Miller and Von Ware.
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Recorded August 7, 2020.
Lex Gillette Gold Medal Jump London World Championships – YouTube
Lex Gillette Long Jump Crash – YouTube
100m Semifinals Rio Paralympics – YouTube
The Weight of Gold – HBO
Wesley Williams – @wesley_williamz
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