Former national 100m champion Trae Williams has turned his back on athletics to pursue Rugby 7s.
The 22-year-old, who has a personal best of 10.10 seconds, has reportedly accepted a $120,000 a year deal to chase a gold medal in the Rugby 7s at the Tokyo Olympics and is contracted to Rugby Australia through to 2021.
The Queenslander, affectionately nicknamed 'Quadzilla', announced that he was leaving athletics via a post last night on Instagram.
Williams had been selected to represent Australia in the 100m next month's Oceania Championships in Townsville, an important qualifying meet for Tokyo, and recently ran the lead off leg in the 4x100m at the World Relays in Japan, where the Australian team clocked 39.05 seconds in the heats.
Despite his 1.65m stature and 76kg weight Williams, who played schoolboy rugby at St John's Anglican College in Brisbane, will add much speed to the Australian Sevens team as they attempt to qualify as one of the twelve teams for Tokyo by either finishing in the top four in the current HSBC Sevens series or via the Oceania Championships in November.
“I’ve always loved Rugby and to be able to potentially chase an Olympic dream through Rugby is something I never expected but I want to grab this opportunity with both hands," Williams said.
“The World Series is an exciting competition and after talking to Tim Walsh (Rugby Australia Sevens Coach) I really felt passionately about where this team is going and its ambitions.
“I can’t wait to meet the boys and get stuck into some hard work.”
In a statement on the Athletics Australia website, AA Head of High Performance and Coaching, Christian Malcolm, said:
“Trae has been great for the green and gold and has been an asset in Australian teams over the past five years. While we will miss having him around, it is important that we continue to work hard to retain our talented athletes in the sport."
The sentiment was echoed by Athletics Australia CEO, Darren Gocher.
“It’s a shame that we have lost Trae from athletics. Trae is a great competitor and a talented athlete. We wish him all the very best in the next steps of his sporting career and thank him for the enormous contribution he has made to Australian Athletics," Gocher said.
"While we are saddened to lose him, it demonstrates the importance of athletics as a foundation sport, to the broader Australian sporting landscape.”
Rugby Australia Seven's coach Tim Walsh noted that adding more speed was a key area for the national team to improve in.
“Players with sprinting backgrounds have made excellent converts to the game such as the USA’s Perry Baker and Carlin Isles as well as our very own Ellia Green and we believe Trae’s transfer will be just as successful," Walsh said in a statement issued by Rugby Australia.
Cover photo by Getty Images