Florida State junior Josh Williamson is one athlete to keep an eye on during the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Team Trials. Just as you may not associate Florida State, a powerhouse football school, with bobsled, Williamson is an unlikely budding winter sport star.
A former standout lacrosse player at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, Williamson is a natural athlete. At 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, Williamson possesses the size, speed and strength to succeed in many sports. His eyes turned toward bobsled through weightlifting, one of his passions.
Williamson, a business management student, started following fellow lifters on Instagram. That led to training with a coach who’s worked with military and athletes on the USA Bobsled teams.
Social media is not the only modern trend athletes from prior eras would not have used to pursue their Olympic dreams. Reality television played the biggest factor of all in Williamson earning a spot at this month’s national team competitions in Lake Placid, New York.
Namely, he won the NBC Sports program, “Scouting Camp: Next Olympic Hopeful,” a show designed to identify potential stars in bobsled, skeleton, rugby and track cycling.
The show is part of a partnership between the network and U.S. Olympic Committee to develop new content that also creates new avenues for NGBs to identify potential stars in their sports.
During the competition at Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in July, Williamson threw the longest shot toss of any American Olympic hopeful.
The feat caught the attention of the USA Bobsled team. But more importantly, the victory included financial support for training, traveling and medical expenses. “I didn’t expect any of this to happen,” says Williamson, who never played ice sports until now.
While it remains to be seen whether Williamson will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 20-year-old has already impressed Team USA officials.
“His speed, his strength, his power, the push…he’s everything we want to see in a bobsled athlete,” says USA Bobsled Olympic Coach Brian Shimer, a five-time Olympian. “He’s way beyond his years.”
Williamson knows this unlikely journey—similar to the twists and turns on a bobsled track—might be only the beginning.
“If I stay healthy and make slow increases over the next couple of years, I should be in a good spot at the age of 24 when most guys just get into the program,” he says. “I’m excited to see where it goes in the future.”