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Oct. 11, 2004

Columbia, S.C. – Gamecock alum Tonique Williams-Darling received a warm welcome as she was honored as the keynote speaker at USC’s annual fall Track and Field banquet on Friday.

The 1999 graduate, who represented her native country of the Bahamas in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, ran the 400m in 49.41 to claim the first Bahamian and USC gold medal. In Friday’s address to her Gamecock predecessors, family and friends, Williams-Darling shared her key to success and advice on how to turn goals into reality.

“First find four areas that you need to improve on. Second, write them down and highlight them. Third, under each, write a few points on how you can improve on each. Fourth, post these goals somewhere visible. And finally, each day just concentrate on staying committed to these areas.” These were the guidelines Williams-Darling said helped her redefine her commitment, stay totally committed to her discipline throughout the season and eventually lead her to an Olympic gold medal.

“When I came to this program eight years ago…USC athletics was not considered a factor at most track meets, definitely not at the SEC or the NCAA competitions. In fact, in 1996 the year Coach Frye and I came, the program had not yet had a NCAA qualifier in a track event. That year we had two,” Williams-Darling said. “Since then, the program continues to flourish and I am overjoyed to see that tradition, which I feel proud to have been a part of, continue.”

“Having the queen of sprinting back is always great,” USC Head Coach Curtis Frye said about the athlete who once held all the USC sprint records. “Tonique was my first recruit and to have her back, it was very special.”

Following Williams-Darling’s address, USC athletes were recognized for last season’s accomplishments. Among those receiving awards were men’s track and field MVPs Rodney Martin (indoor track), Chris Steddum (indoor field), Fred Townsend (outdoor track) and Tony Allmond (outdoor field) and women’s MVPs Lashinda Demus (indoor and outdoor track), Nicole Kendrick (indoor field) and Chelsea Hammond (outdoor field). The Comeback Award and the Super Woman Award were given to LaShay Shelton and Lashinda Demus, respectively.