Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Conrad Williams (August 2016)

Conrad Williams (Born Jamaica 20/3/82) has been racing on the track in England since his early 20’s and ‘Power of 10’ points to a time at the start of his career, on 12th of June 2003 when, he ran 1:56.8 for 2nd place in the Kent Championships at Ladywell.
He obtained nine medals as a 400 runner in Major Championships and his personal best’s were-60m indoors 6.90 and outdoors 100/200/400 10.4/20.96/45.08. He ran a 44.9 for a relay split.

Conrad Williams explains “Running has been part of my life from when I was little so, I have always loved running and being outside. For me it was just a clear path to end up doing it for my job.’

What really brought him into racing seriously ‘It was by an accident really because I started quite late. I was 21.
All through school I was playing basketball. ‘One day, on a Tuesday, I was walking by my local track in Ladywell and, I saw the track and went over and I said to the guys ‘Would it be okay if I came and trained with you guys'. They said ‘Come down on Thursday and we will see what we can do, by the Saturday I was in the team for Kent AC, the club I am with now.
The base is at Ladywell, Lewisham. From then I saw how the guys were training and, I wanted to be part of the European team for the Under 23’s. I just fell in love with it, literally straight away because I did not know how hard it was going to be back then!
The event is a very hard event. When I talked to Tommie Smith and to Henry Carr, who would have both been world beaters over one lap, they only liked to run the individual event over 200 and no more. They felt they achieved quite enough over 200, without the stress of running individual 400’s (They were both 200m Olympic Champions)
‘With the 400 you have to be patient. You have to train all the elements, strength, speed & Endurance.’

Lee Evans (400 Olympic Champ) told me in Mexico in 1968 that he did a lot of training over distance, more than 400, doing more 500’s & 600’s
‘You have to do over distance work, hill reps, and sand reps. it is literally a full circle. You can’t train one side and expect to be World class, that was why I loved it. You have got to be strong in some parts and work on your weaknesses.

When did Conrad Williams first think he could get somewhere in the event?
‘2009 when I broke the Inter-Counties Championship record at Bedford (46.01 on 24/5/09). Once I broke that then, that year, I ended up leading the World Championship 4x400m relay in Berlin and got a medal (1st USA 2:57.86; 2 Great Britain 3.00.53; 3 Australia 3.00.90; 4, Belgium, 5 Poland, 6 Dominica, 7 France, 8 Nigeria) The British team:- 1 Conrad Williams 45.6; 2 Michael Bingham 45.3; Robert Tobin 45.47 and Martin Rooney 44.83.

Did he have a hero amongst the 200/400 runners to begin with?
‘No, my love was basketball. I did admire a lot of sprint guys like Wallace Spearmon and Tyson Gay. The guys who came up.’
To think in 2007, before Usain Bolt broke through as the best in the World he was just one of several very talented World class men sprinters at the time, over 200 like Xavier Carter, Le Shaun Merritt, Walter Dix and of course Tyson Gay etc.
‘When you look at the old videos Bolt was coming 4th and Tyson Gay was at the peak of his performance.’

Conrad had some wonderful races so, which ones would he pick out?
‘The European 400 Semi Final in 2014, when I was in lane 8 and won. (In 45.85). It was in Zurich and I knew I would have to run the best race of my life to make the final (He was 5th in the Final in 45.53. Martin Rooney won in 44.71)
‘The same year at the Commonwealth Games. It was not easy as, we were against all the ‘Big’ teams and we won the 4x400 Relay. Those two stick in my brain (Hampden Park. Relay 4x400 England 3.00.46 ;(Conrad Williams 45.2; Michael Bingham 45.3; Daniel Adwade 45.38 and Mathew Hudson Smith 44.56.) 2 Bahamas 3:00.51 3 Trinidad & Tobago 3:01.51)

Conrad Williams’s best time for the individual 400 was winning in 45.06 in the AtleticCAGeneve - Geneva, on the 6th of June, 2015.
Has he got lots of friends in athletics one might wonder, as he is a likable character?

“I do. The thing with track & field, you meet people at the Diamond League or on the European circuit. The good thing is I know a lot of people in different events.’

Now he is 34, will he still be able to run against the best for a long time?
‘About another 18 months. I have done the circle twice. I want to start to give back. I have had a lot of help on the way to where I am. To make the Olympic Games (2012 Semi-final for the 400 and in the 4x400 Final he was the GB team that came 4th) and four times an indoor medallist. I think it is time for me to start coaching and helping the next generation.”

He must have been pleased to win the England and CAU inter-Counties, at Bedford on the 31st of July 2016 (lane 3)
(First 3:- 1 Conrad Williams (Kent AC) 47.11; 2 Alex Haydock-Wilson (Windsor Slough & Eton) 47.79; 3 Christian Byron (Birchfield) 47.88)
'It was very windy and for me the conditions were not that great. For me winning any Championships is good. It was my first England Championship. My plan was just to get the win. The time would come. I wanted to make sure I was safe and have something for the final 100 because you never know what could happen.”

Who are the people who have helped or coached him?
Larry Garnham started me off in my first 4 years and made sure I was sticking to the sport. Another who is a good friend Nigel Levine - we train tougher for about six to seven years; Lloyd Cowan, Clarence Callender and Linford Christie. A lot of people to show me the way.

Christie had a very good racing brain over the 100m & coming from his club TVH was Kermit Bentham, who has been a phenomenal veteran 400 man, after his international career had ended sometime ago.
‘Kermit is still doing it. He is running pretty awesome times. I had the pleasure of training with Ron Rodden 4or 5 years ago and Kermit was there. I got a bit of the ‘Old School’ way of training. In those days you had to be strong mentally to do the sessions. There was not the talk about certain conditioning or protein recovery, more about brute force, then you worry about what comes after. It was good to hear Kermit’s story, about his athletics when he was my age.’

Conrad Williams is a known name as, he is seen on television,’
‘When I started I did not know it was going to be like this and that I would be on TV, be able to walk down the street and people knew who I was so, there are a lot of people watching track and field. It shows you are being watched. People admire your hard work. The effort you put into the sport. I don’t shy away from the normal public or hide away in a private corner. I tend to mix with everyone because, it is a friendly sport and I want to make sure to keep it positive and friendly.’ This is my time and I will know when to go to, train someone to be at the top again.”

Alastair Aitken

Back to Reports Index

Back to Archive index