"It's not a sacrifice, it's a choice," says history-making American track sprinter Lauryn Williams. Williams was making the point in an interview about the challenges athletes have to face. A credible voice giving real and needed advice - an athlete who has seen life from the perspective of a contracted track and field star and as a free agent bobsleigh competitor.
A four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medallist and one of only five athletes in the history of the Olympic Games to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Her decorated athletic career ended on a high at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, where she won the silver medal in the two-woman bobsleigh event.
Eight global medals between the Olympics and worlds, including the 2005 IAAF World Championships 100m title. Williams is the first American female Olympian to earn a medal at both the Summer and Winter Olympics with a silver in the two-woman bobsled with Elana Meyers at the 2014 Sochi Games.
In 2004, the then 20-year-old University of Miami junior won the 100m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 10.97, the fastest American time that season and the second-fastest time in the world. "It was the Olympic year and I was the fastest American", Wiliams was quoted as saying.
But she had no idea how to navigate the professional opportunities that were now open to her after her NCAA win.
"Do you go pro before the Trials, during the Trials, or after the Trials?" Williams said of her dilemma, one faced by every elite college athlete looking to turn pro in a world or Olympic year. You have to decide if waiting is worth the risk for a better contract."
Williams acknowledges that many young athletes do not have the appropriate support system from the get-go.
Post her competitive career, the legendary track star is now a certified financial planner and entrepreneur- founder of Worth Winning, a 100% virtual planning company. Author of the Oval Office, a guide to becoming a professional athlete.
Williams, who has Trinidad and Tobago roots, is on a mission to share information, guide and advise athletes on how to navigate the labyrinth of professional sport.
Her words of wisdom are worth hearing, the business of professional sport is no joking matter, informed decision making is a critical success factor.
Williams' visit to Trinidad and Tobago may be the catalyst for those willing to listen, to learn and benefit from an athlete who achieved at the highest level of her sport.
Her story of the struggles- the ups and downs of life as an elite professional athlete will provide.
Written by Brian Lewis.
Brian Lewis is the Preident of T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.