Christopher Morales Williams, University of Georgia’s young track star, has continued his 2024 outdoor campaign at the top of the NCAA leaderboard. The sophomore sprinter, who hails from Vaughn, Ontario, posted an outdoor personal best of 44.91 seconds earlier this month at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, his second win of the season.

Q: The 400 meter dash became your thing early on. When did you know you wanted to focus on that event?

A: I think the biggest thing would be in grade nine when I broke the provincial record at OFSAA, that’s our province meet. I broke the OFSAA record in the 400 and I honestly think that it was even a national record at the time, but that’s when I realized that I’m actually pretty good at this race and track in general, you know, that I should actually think about scholarships and stuff like that…I had no idea what athletic scholarships were at the time until one of my dad’s friends came up to me to tell me, ‘You could go to school for sports.’ That’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I actually might take this seriously.’

Q: Was competing in the United States always the end goal?

A: I never really dreamed of getting an athletic scholarship in Canada. It was always just kind of that I was going to focus on art. But then, I think after grade nine, I realized, ‘Okay, I want to go to the States for school.’ So, I had been looking, because of the difference of our graduation requirements, so I had been looking at, since grade 10, what I need to take to go to school in the NCAA. And even then, I never really thought that I’d be good enough to get a full ride to the NCAA. I mean, I was really good, but I still didn’t think I’d be like, that good, to be like, considered in the Power 5, SEC, you know what I mean? I had a dream to obviously go to the Olympics and everything, but I never thought that it would be possible.

Q: What was your recruiting process like?

A: Oh, man, that was like, really weird for me. I didn’t know probably more than like four states when I was in Canada, obviously, because why would I know that? So, the only school I knew was the University of Florida because of my coach’s daughter and USC because of Andre De Grasse, so I was like, ‘I want to go to those schools.’ I wanted to go somewhere hot and the only place I knew that was hot was Florida. I didn’t actually know it got hotter above Florida. Like, I didn’t know what the limit was. I didn’t even know Georgia was a state or a place. And so then, when Coach Wes, who was the former spring coach at the University of Georgia, and Coach Caryl (Smith-Gilbert) [were] interested in recruiting me back in grade 11, I was like, ‘Oh, Georgia, like, what is this place?’ I was a little upset because I wanted to go to USC to be with Coach Caryl, but then Coach Caryl went to Georgia. My coach was like, ‘You’re going to love this place,’ and I was like, ‘Okay,’ and that was it. I never bothered to look at another school. I just looked at Georgia. That was my first option and my only option. I went on one official visit, which was at Georgia, after I signed.

Q: You recently broke a Canadian U-23 national record for the 400 meter dash. What was that experience like?

A: Breaking the U-23 400 [meter dash], that was indoors, I mean, it was like, a step in the right direction. You know, I mean, I really wanted to break it last year. I probably could have, but I just had a bad season. So, breaking it this year, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, a U-23 record. Let’s shoot for an open record next.’ I don’t know, it was just kind of like a motivation for me. And then obviously, you know, I shot for the open record, broke it and then I was like, ‘Well, there’s no other Canadian records for me to break, I guess. What else am I supposed to go for? I guess the school record.’ But then, obviously ended up going for a lot more than the school record. But yeah, it was definitely a huge motivation, a huge confidence booster. It was kind of like I was finally on the right track, you know, doing something. I’ve been rewriting the history book in Canada, you know, broken 300 [meter dash] records and everything, so, it was like, this is really good.

Q: What does it mean to have your times within your country’s record books?

A: It’s cool to see that I’m, you know, rewriting history and everything like that. Like, I’m not just doing good right now, but I’m the best of all time and no one has ever beaten me in my country. Some of these records are so old, you know, so it’s nice to finally see track change in Canada. It’s nice to see all the records are broken because records are meant to be broken, right? It’s cool to see that, you know, yeah, I mean, I’m changing it, but hopefully that I’m inspiring other athletes…there’s been quite a bit of records being broken. Track has never been big in Canada, and now it’s finally starting to get a lot bigger with all these athletes coming up and hopefully this inspires more athletes to start running. I don’t know, I’m tired of seeing the old records stay there forever. I mean, like, I want the records to get broken. I don’t like seeing them.

Q: You won an NCAA SEC Indoor title this season. It was a world record, but wasn’t officially ratified due to an issue with the starting blocks. What was that race like?

A: I was sick the whole day. You know, I ran it, but after the race it was definitely like, ‘Oh, I won, okay. Let me just get off the track.’ I don’t know, I just felt like walking off the track because I was mad or something but then they pulled me back and then they’re like, ‘Oh, like, you know, the time you just ran, what do you know about the world record?’ I was like, ‘Oh, Michael Norman has it,’ and he was like, ‘Oh, well, now you do.’ I didn’t even realize I ran that fast, like, what the heck? I didn’t even notice. I looked at the clock and saw it, but like, I just didn’t – it didn’t process through my head like I actually just did that. I don’t think I ever realized how fast I actually am…It was just very happy.

Q: How did you prepare for this moment? You mentioned you were sick.

A: So, I was very sick. So, actually, I didn’t really prepare at all. I woke up, I felt horrible, I ate barely anything for breakfast, but I forced myself to eat food. And then, for lunch, I think I forced too much food down that I ended up throwing it all up. And then from there on out, like, I just did nothing. Like, before that race, I was literally just taking medicine, like stomach medicine, and I just sat down and slept. I had no energy. I had no strength at all to do anything. Like, I was a zombie. There was no thought. I mean, normally, I’m nervous, I’m stressed, thinking about everything – I had nothing. Like, I was so tired, I was just thinking about, ‘Am I gonna be able to run?’ That was honestly just the best preparation – just distracting my mind from the competition. I was just so relaxed the whole week because I was in a lot of pain. Oh my gosh, it was actually terrible. That was the worst warmup, oh, geez.

Q: How are you using all of these times as motivation going forward?

A: I mean, I have the fastest time, but it’s the way that I ran it that really boosts me – lets me know that, you know, you don’t gotta be 100%. If I’m feeling off, if something is up, so what? I was sick and I’m still better than I was at SECs – that’s what I tell myself. Every race, whenever my coaches ask me how I’m doing, I’ll be like, ‘Better than I was at SECs and I broke a world record at SECs.’ So, it’s like, you know what, if I could do it when I was sick, I can do it when I’m sore or you know, had a bad day, didn’t sleep well, whatever, whatever, whatever. So, I definitely just use it as motivation to kind of see like, there’s just so much potential that I have and there’s so much more, hopefully in the future.”

Q: You’re right behind Elijah Godwin in the Bulldogs’ record book. How does Elijah Godwin inspire you to win races in a similar record-breaking fashion?

A: Yeah, definitely a big inspiration. He, like, kind of brought me here, and other older boys in the 4 by [400 meter relay.] Elijah is who I trained with outdoor, like, it was just him and I because we were the only 400-meter runners. He’s just a big inspiration. Seeing what he did, seeing him, you know, win indoor nationals last year and everything. He gives it his 110% at practice. So, you know, I mean, like this year, for me being the oldest on the team for the sprint span, is kind of like, ‘Okay, I want to be a leader like how he was to me.’ I want to be that to the younger kids, you know. So, when I go out there, I don’t want to go out there and just kind of freeze on the line like I did last year. I want to, you know, be an inspiration for these guys – kind of just someone for them to look up to and just bring them in, so I’m kind of just falling in Elija’s footsteps and just competing, because he competed no matter what. He had food poisoning as well when he won nationals last year, he was sick. So, it’s just kind of like, what a coincidence that two guys are both sick when they run.

Q: Looking ahead at the Olympic trials, what’s your strategy?

A: For Olympic trials, I mean, it’s so far away, but at the same time, it starts now. I’ve hit the standard three times now, so that’s really good. I just want to honestly stay the way that I’ve been staying and then go to Canadian nationals, do my best there, hopefully become top two and then if I get picked for the Canadian Olympic team, then I’m just gonna do what I’ve been doing because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? So, I’m just gonna keep doing the same thing and take it one step at a time. I’m not gonna look at Olympic finals right now when I’m still not even at SECs. Next meet is LSU, then SECs, then regionals, then nationals, then Canadian nationals and then Olympics – so, one step at a time.

Q: What are some goals you hope to tackle this outdoor season?

A: For this outdoor [season,] I would say a Canadian national record, it would be nice to break it, a school record. I feel like having a set time is more of a hindrance than it is a goal. So, my goal for time would just be anything. I don’t even want to say a time because it’s like, I could do so much better that time, you never know. Like if I say, ‘Oh, the collegiate record – I definitely want to break the collegiate record,’ but what if I’m way better than the collegiate record? What if I’m world record? I mean, the odds are so low, but you never know, right? So I’d rather just,my goal, is just really to do best in terms of time – how fast I run is how fast I run. Win outdoor nationals is definitely a big goal for NCAAs, you know, just go back to back and see if I can double it. I just want to support the whole men’s team. Hopefully we could come top three at NCAAs or even win, as a team, that’d be really nice. So, as long as I do my part in winning the 400.

Mia Fishman is a student in the undergraduate sports media certification program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.