Williams never believed she would be at Games
If someone had told Zoenique Williams three years ago that she would represent Bermuda at a major international competition she would have thought they were crazy.
Williams only took up cycling for a “bit of fun”, but it was not long before her competitive nature started shining through, with the 30-year-old swiftly emerging as one of the most dominant riders on the Island.
The powerful pedalling policewoman said the reality of how far she has come in such a short time hit her while watching the opening ceremony at a packed Rogers Centre on her television at home.
“I saw the opening ceremony on TV and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to be there; I’m going to the Pan Am Games!” said Williams, who arrived in Toronto with her team-mate Dominique Mayho yesterday.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Williams, who was crowned last year’s Bermuda Cycling Association’s Female Rider of the Year, said she was determined to immerse herself and make the most of the Pan Am Games experience.
“I would have never believed it if someone had told me three years ago all this was going to happened,” said Williams, who competes in the time-trial on Wednesday and road race on Saturday. “It’s a really good feeling, especially having started in the sport relatively late.
“You know how it is in Bermuda; you get on a bike and go on a few group rides. I started loving it and my competitive nature took over and I became determined to get stronger. Before long I was competing for Bermuda overseas.”
Williams wasted no time in making her mark in her first international competition at the Elite Caribbean Cycling Championships two years ago in Curacao, where she won a silver medal.
She repeated that feat by finishing second at last year’s Championships in Puerto Rico, where she secured a spot for Bermuda at the Pan Am Games.
“This is the biggest challenge I’ve faced,” said Williams, who competed at last year’s Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, struggling to cope with the high altitude and did not finish.
“I’m going to be up against girls who get paid to cycle for a living. I mean, that’s all they do.
“It’s going to be an eye-opener and I expect it’s going to be a very fast race. I don’t have any team-mates racing with me and that can be both a disadvantage and an advantage.
“I’m just going to try and pay attention to what everyone else is trying to do and stay with the main group. The pressure won’t be on me to attack or anything.”
The Winner’s Edge rider suffered plenty of bad luck at last month’s NatWest Island Games in Jersey, tumbling from her bike in both the road race and the town centre criterium.
But she insists she has put that misfortune firmly behind her.
“The Island Games were unlucky for me because I was involved in two crashes, but I’m not letting that hold me back,” said Williams, who finished twelfth in the time-trial in Jersey.
“You just have to put it to one side, forget about it, and move on.”
The 82.5-kilometres women’s road race will start and finish at Ontario Place, while the 20km time-trial course will be held in Milton, Ontario.