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Lauryn Williams makes history as U.S. wins silver, bronze medals in two-man bobsled at Sochi Games

Eric Adelson
Yahoo Sports
Olympics: Bobsleigh-Women's
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Feb 19, 2014; Krasnaya Polyana, RUSSIA; Team USA 1's Elana Meyers (left) and Lauryn Williams (right) hug after their third run in the women's bobsleigh during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Sanki Sliding Center. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – She missed a gold medal by a split-second, but what she achieved can be measured only in ages.

Lauryn Williams, the track star-turned-bobsledder from the University of Miami, has become only the fifth person ever to win a medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Williams accomplished the feat with partner Elana Meyers in the two-man bobsled here Wednesday, winning silver after leading the first three of four heats. The 5-foot-3 30-year-old, who began running at age 9 in Detroit, won gold as part of the U.S. relay team at 2012 London Games.

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"I feel like I'm in the presence of Jesse Owens," said teammate Lolo Jones, who did not medal. "When I looked at Lauryn Williams come out of that sled, I was so emotionally choked up."

The Americans also captured bronze, with Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans easily cruising into third position to win a place on the podium. It was the first time the U.S. has won two medals in the event.

"Lauryn is one of the most incredible athletes ever," Greubel said, "and we're so lucky she decided to stick it out and give bobsled a try."

Williams' silver comes only 12 years after another sprinter-turned-bobsledder, Vonetta Flowers, became the first black Olympian to win a Winter Games gold medal.

American Eddie Eagan, a boxer and bobsledder, is still the only Olympian to win gold in both the Winter and Summer Games. He did it in 1920 and 1932. Williams said her track gold medal is at her mother's house, but she's not sure where her silver medal is from the 100 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"It really is not about the medal for me," she said. "I don't need something that I can hold in my hand."

Williams said she is not sure about her future plans, hinting she may not return to compete in 2018, but her future standing in the sport, and in the Olympic history books, is indelible.

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