Ralph returns from Romania with World Student Games gold

Ralph Williams on top of the podium with his gold medal in Romania.
Ralph Williams on top of the podium with his gold medal in Romania.

Teenager Ralph Williams has returned home from Romania with a gold medal from a World Student Games event.

The Dacorum 16-year-old won the sprint hurdles at the CSSF under-18s World Student Games, held at the Stadium Iolanda Balasz Soter in Bucharest.

The achievement was all the more impressive as it was Ralph’s first foray into international competition.

He was part of the Great Britain team that competed against countries such as Spain, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Austria and Portugal in a variety of sports, including athletics, football, basketball and swimming.

The 4 x 100m relay was one of the first events, where James Gordon (Avon) Michael Graham (North East) and Peter Adeosun (Avon) got the baton to Ralph in fourth place, where his blistering run overtook Belgian and Maltese athletes to earn a silver medal.

Ralph then had to wait for the last day of the games for his 110m hurdles event.

The heats were held early in the morning with Ralph winning heat two ahead of French and Austrian athletes.

His fastest heat time of 15.01 also gave him the best lane for the final, where he was noticeably the smallest competitor. Although he has recently moved up to compete in his first of three years as an U20 in the UK, he is used to being the youngest in his field.

Seven athletes ran the final race as an Austrian hurdler was disqualified for a false start.

In the final Ralph spent the first few hurdles trying to catch up to the tall frame of French athlete Segui-Alain Jaouen but was level by hurdle nine and managed to pull ahead by the last hurdle, dipping at the line to win in a personal-best time of 14.73.

At the closing ceremony, the British athletes were awarded the Fair Play trophy, which was gratefully received by Stephen Sanderson for the team.

It’s been an exciting time for Ralph as the previous week he had represented Hertfordshire in the U20s 110m hurdles at the English Schools event at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.

He is now looking forward to a well-earned rest before he starts training again.

Ralph thanked his sponsors Everyone Active and also thanked Hemel MP Sir Mike Penning, many Dacorum businesses who were quick to offer support, his friends and the residents of Dacorum.

In March, the community backed Ralph’s efforts to raise funds for the trip with a quiz night at Great Gaddesden.