Before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, U.S. sprinter Lauryn Williams accepted that her father, who was suffering from leukemia, wouldn't be there to see her compete in the 100-meter dash. But when residents of her hometown in Rochester, Pa., heard about it, they raised enough money to send her father and several other family members to Athens.
"I was very surprised," Williams tells NPR's Neal Conan. "It was really a great experience just to see everyone rally together."
She credits her hometown support for helping her win the silver medal. It "is so significant to ... making that performance," she says. "You can just relax and go out there and compete at your best."
Williams says the people of Rochester have always been with her.
"It's been the little things, even from ... the high school years where other people were driving me to track meets and things like that if my dad was sick or unavailable."
And those little things made a big difference in her life. "What people don't realize [is] it's not always money that we need. It's just, you know, dedicating your time to us and the little charitable things that can help somebody take a little stress off your shoulders."
She continues to receive support from Rochester and her current hometown of Miami as she competes in the 2012 Olympic relay pool. Conan talks with Williams, named the world's fastest woman in 2005, about what emotional and financial support from a hometown means to an Olympian.
Tell us: Who's your hometown Olympian?
Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.