Tokyo-bound sprinter believed to be first Waco native to qualify for the Olympics
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Wil London, 23, the athlete believed to be the first Waco native to qualify for the Olympics, is spending the next few days training before he leaves Saturday morning for Tokyo as a member of the USA Track and Field Team.
He’ll take the support and pride of the entire community with him.
“I’m ready and I know the city is ready to watch me run and execute,” London said while taking a break during practice Wednesday morning at Baylor’s Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium.
London, a three-year letterman at Waco High School and a Baylor University graduate who holds the school’s record in the 400m, was chosen as an alternate for the 2021 games in the 4x400 relay and 4x400 mixed gender relay.
The first time he could run is July 30 but as an alternate, he likely won’t know he’s running until just a few hours before the race.
But the uncertainty and pressure don’t seem to worry London’s longtime coach Clyde Hart.
Hart retired as Baylor’s head track coach in 2005 and as the school’s director of track and field in 2019 but has continued to work alongside London to keep a promise he made to his runner.
“I promised Wil that I would work with him up through the Olympics and of course the Olympics were canceled (in 2020) which means there was another year, so I’ve had two years since retirement to work with him.”
Hart said he knew London had what it takes to make it to the world’s biggest stage.
In 2017, the runner won a silver medal at the World Championship in London.
Two years later in 2019, London won two gold medals at the World Championship in Qatar.
And while he has fans not only in his hometown, but also around the world, none is bigger than the man whose name he shares.
Wilbert London, Jr., Wil’s father, has been with his son every step of the way.
“I am very proud of Wil,” he said.
“This is something we’ve worked for a long time.”
Wilbert was there Tuesday morning sweating it out on the track, encouraging his son.
“I’ve been a part of Wil’s life from birth, and he wants me here every day,” he told KWTX.
“I’ve tried several times to say ‘no, I’m not going to do it’ and he says ‘no, you are going to do it.’ So, I’m here and I enjoy doing it.”
Wil’s been a part of Team Waco, a summer track program operated through the City of Waco, since he was 4 years old
He’s still part of it today.
And as he prepares to compete on the world’s biggest stage, city officials wanted to recognize him for his accomplishments.
Tuesday evening Waco Mayor Dillon Meek, surrounded by Wil, his dad and his mom, Jacquelyn, issued a proclamation declaring July 20 as Wil London Day.
“I’m so thrilled that Wil London is representing the City of Waco and Team USA in Tokyo this year,” Meek said.
“He embodies the values of Wacoans on and off the track. He pursues excellence and he’s a man of integrity and the whole city of Waco is cheering him on.”
London say’s he’s still taking it all in.
“It’s exciting. It still hasn’t actually hit me yet,” London said.
“I’ve always run track since I was 4, but I didn’t really want to be an Olympian until about the fifth grade and take it really seriously. So, just to finally be 23 and finally be able to say ‘I am an Olympian, my dream came true’ is just a great reality.”
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