Baltimore Sun

Olympian brings gold back to Baltimore

Baltimore track star Bernard Williams returned home with a gold medal around his neck last night after a victory in the 400-meter relay and a 17-hour plane ride from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

"It was an honor to win gold and bring it back for the USA," said Williams, a 1997 graduate of Carver Vocational-Technical High School.

With the medal hanging from a sky-blue ribbon, Williams walked through Gate A1 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 8:33 p.m. yesterday after the long flight from Down Under with stops in Los Angeles and Chicago.

There to greet him were his mother, his high school coach and a small group of supporters, who broke into applause when he walked into the terminal.

Angela Williams, who had watched her son win on television, was ecstatic.

"At first, he started out with basketball, and he found he wasn't good at it, so he started track when he was about 16," she said.

Walter Cole, Williams' track coach at Carver, waited for his star athlete to arrive with a big sign sporting the Olympian's photograph.

"I'm so elated," said Cole. "I don't know what's going on."

Around Williams, those who were waiting for a flight or watching a loved one depart wanted to get near him and touch the gold medal.

"I never thought I'd see one in person," said Rose Yetter, a bookkeeper from Edgewater.

Williams thanked everyone who had helped him get so far and said he was looking forward to spending "some time with my fam- ily and friends. Without them, this wouldn't have happened."

Also getting off Flight 730 was Olympic hurdler James Carter from Northeast Baltimore. Carter placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles.

In addition to winning the gold, one of the thrills for Williams was meeting legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, who as Cassius Clay won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

"He tapped me on the jaw with his fist," said Williams.