Bianca Williams is chasing more than a place at the Tokyo Olympics this weekend. She is running to redefine herself.
A year ago next week she and her partner, fellow athlete Ricardo dos Santos, were stopped in their car by police officers outside their home in London.
Their three-month baby son was in the back seat yet they were forced from the vehicle and handcuffed while a search took place.
A video of the incident went viral and Williams, a multi medal-winning international sprinter who had nothing wrong, suddenly found herself better known for the distressing altercation.
“I don’t want to be remembered for that,” the 27-year-old said ahead of the British Championships, where she is attempting to qualify for both the 100 and 200 metres.
“I can’t wait to rewrite the book, to be known again as Bianca Williams the athlete that achieved so much and was running great times whilst becoming a mother.”
Image:Getty Images for European Athlet)
Williams was a Commonwealth and European relay champion in 2018, racing in the same British quartet as Dina Asher-Smith.
Since giving birth to Zuri she has returned to the top of the podium, helping Britain to relay glory at the recent European Team Championships.
But it is an Olympic place she covets and achieving that she feels would end a hugely challenging 12 months on the brightest of notes.
Image:BIANCA WILLIAMS via REUTERS)
Not only has she become a mum, she has mourned the sudden death of her coach Lloyd Cowan who, she says, “saw me as his daughter and I saw him as a father figure”.
Throw in the stop-and-search, an ordeal she says left her feeling “incredibly hurt and shaken”, and she has had to deal with way more, physically, mentally and emotionally, than any young mum should have to.
It all started so well. Her baby arrived safely and two days later the Olympics were postponed - giving her unexpected hope of making the rearranged date.
She sought tips on competing as a mum from global stars Jess Ennis-Hill and Allyson Felix and was reassured that she would get back to her pre-baby form.
Then came the police incident and, harrowing though it was, Williams knew she could not stay silent.
“I didn’t want to hide away from the public because that situation happens to a lot of people,” she said.
“There are many out there who don’t have a voice and who have to just move on as though nothing happened. I felt I had to speak up and to hopefully help bring about change.”
On social media she pointed out that “actions to have consequences” and the officers involved were later investigated for misconduct.
“I hope my voice was heard,” added Williams, who later received an apology from the Met.
“It’s a difficult situation to talk about. It’s still quite sensitive. But I do hope change will come, especially as I am raising a black son. I hope that he will be safe when he’s older.”