By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Nationally renowned distance runner Oneil Williams received timely assistance from a corporate sponsor as he readies himself for major international competition in 2018.
The Island Game Foundation presented Williams with a sponsorship of $5000 to assist with his training in preparation for the Commonwealth Games and the IAAF Half Marathon Championships.
Williams has spoken out on numerous occasions about his struggles with funding and the little attention distance running programmes receives in the country.
"I've been an athlete for the last 15 years and I've represented the Bahamas on numerous occasions," he said. "The sponsorship will greatly help me. I reached out and Island Games was grateful enough to help me on this venture. The sponsorship will help toward me achieving my goals in 2018 for the Commonwealth Games and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships."
In an effort to further his craft, Williams has taken his training to Kapsabet, Kenya in recent years, an expensive but necessary venture.
"I train in Kenya, I've been there for the last five years with little support and the support I am getting now will go a long way in everything I do - competition, travel, diet and living conditions," the 34-year-old distance runner said.
The IAAF World Half Marathon Championships is scheduled for March 24, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. The qualifying standard is 1:06.00 between the qualifying period of April 23, 2017 to January 31, 2018.
The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for April 4-15, 2018 in the Gold Coast, Australia.
In June, Williams told The Tribune he abandoned his plans to continue to run the distance races on the track because of a lack of support and set his sights on competing in the half and full marathon.
"If I had more time to train, I definitely would have qualified for World Champs," Williams said. "I believe if I can get the financial support, I can accomplish the standard.
"I feel good right now. I know I'm at a crossroad, but I am hoping something will work out for me. The last marathon runner we had out there was 20-30 years ago, so I'm hoping to change that."
He most recently participated in the 2017 Asics Stockholm Marathon
"I only had three and-a-half months to prepare for the marathon, which you need six months to a year to get fully prepared for a marathon," Williams said. "I was on national record pace until I hit the 40k (kilometre mark) and then I hit the wall."
He was timed in 2:09:24 secs up to that point, but was unable to finish the gruelling 26.2 mile race.
The qualifying standard for the upcoming Commonwealth Games is 2:19:00 secs.
Williams said he decided to transition from track to running the marathon because of a lack of support.
"I'm not getting any support from the government nor the BAAA (Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations), so all of my travel expenses and everything is being supplied by my family, friends and persons in the community who want to see me succeed," he told The Tribune, "I wasn't getting any support, but then I realised the potential in getting some money if I ran a marathon to help subsidise my training.
"That was the reason why I switched. If I can get the support, I definitely would try to qualify for the half marathon."