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Olympian visits students at GAC

Olympian Lauryn Williams poses with students from Greater Atlanta Christian after an appreciation breakfast on Tuesday. (Special Photo)

Olympian Lauryn Williams poses with students from Greater Atlanta Christian after an appreciation breakfast on Tuesday. (Special Photo)

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Lauryn Williams is the first American woman to win medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. (Special Photo)

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Olympian Lauryn Williams poses with Greater Atlanta Christian track coach Brad Kinser after addressing a volunteer appreciation luncheon on Tuesday at the school. (Special Photo)

NORCROSS — Hard work knows no limit.

There’s also a time to lead and a time to find a place among a team. And thank God for your journey and embrace a faith and commitment that will open doors to the next chapter of your life.

These were messages Olympic medal winner Lauryn Willliams offered Tuesday to 80 students, faculty and staff at the Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC). She spoke at an annual volunteer appreciation breakfast held by the Ladies Auxiliary for Christian Education (LACE).

“If you’re working hard toward a goal, a door will open for you,” Williams said. “You may have limited resources … but if you start working hard and go in a direction, doors will open and a plan will unfold. That’s what has happened to me.”

Williams, 30, has competed in four Olympic Games in 10 years and is the first American woman to win a medal in summer and winter games.

She won a gold medal in the London Summer Olympics of 2012 for the 4 x 100 relay team. She also won silver medals for 100 meters at the Athens Summer Olympics of 2004 and the bobsled team in the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics in 2014. She also competed in the Beijing Summer Olympics of 2008.

Williams said there is no secret to success. It’s hard work, even on days when you don’t want to do it.

“There are no sick days or time off,” Williams said. “You’ve got to get up and get it done because you’re building the foundation to perform on the level you want to perform in the future.”

Williams is one of eight children who grew up in Detroit. Work on her high school track team led to her earning a scholarship to the University of Miami.

“Imagine how grateful I was to be able to get an education … by running around in a circle,” Williams said jokingly. “…But my parents taught me education was key to succeeding.”

Williams won an NCAA title and later received a business degree from Miami. She also earned a spot on the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics team. But her family could not attend the competition because her father suffered from leukemia. But a news article led to donations allowing him and family members to attend the games.

“God has shown up … when you least expect it,” she said.

Williams earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix and a real estate license before entering the bobsled competition in the Sochi.

“I learned that it wasn’t about me going out to win a gold medal,” she said. “… Knowing how to ask, ‘Where can I be helpful?’ helped me to learn how to be useful for the team.”

The Olympian is finishing a 25-day speaking tour in eight cities. She has retired from competition and plans to work on revitalization projects in Detroit, financial planning for Olympic athletes and national recycling.