Getting to the top is hard enough but staying there is an even greater challenge. And so it could be argued that tonight's World Championship 400m victory by Tonique Williams-Darling is even more remarkable than when she struck Olympic gold a year ago.

Coming off the final turn the 27-year-old from the Bahamas held off the attack of both Sanya Richards (USA) and the reigning World champion Ana Guevara of Mexico displaying a hunger that perennial champions must have.

"I would say that being able to pull off the Olympic title and then come back a year later and pull off the World Championship title has just been a roller coaster experience for me,"she revealed. "It's really an historical moment for me and for the Bahamas, just to be able to do something like this. And so I feel really humbled and grateful and just overjoyed right now."

"It is not an easy experience. I will tell you, definitely, that in the off-season it was just a struggle to go out there every day and practice because coming off the Jackpot races and after the Olympics experience you are just kind of worn out mentally. It's not even physical. So you just go with the season, and work through it, and by the time, like two weeks away from this competition, I was hungry again and ready to be competitive."

Williams-Darling credits a support group of friends and family, her husband Bahamian 400m runner Denis Darling, with keeping her grounded when the natural tendency would be to celebrate and then rest on one's laurels. Most importantly she credits her Christian faith.

"I am a baptist ," she reveals. "I belong to a church in Hampton, Virginia. And it has really been the source of my spiritual foundation and just my faith that if I put everything in God that He will help me through. It's not even a matter of winning medals or whatever just a belief that I can do all things through Christ."

Articulate and unassuming, the Nassau born runner attended the University of Georgia before finishing her business degree at the University of South Carolina. Meeting present coach Steve Riddick himself a former outstanding sprinter, has been the turning point of her career however.

"I met him at a track meet in 2000 he used to coach members of the Bahamas team in the 2000 Olympics," she says of the 1976 Olympic 4 x 100m relay gold medalist. He has helped her to not only to fame but to fortune. A year ago she won $500,000US as a share of the TDK Golden League Jackpot. Her Helsinki victory is worth $60,000 US alone. But it is not riches that motivate Williams-Darling.

"My life has changed a little bit (since winning the Olympics) but as far as the competition and training it hasn't changed that much," she declares. "One thing I have tried to do is train like I have never won anything before. And I think that was achieved because I could have been lackadaisical and blown off the season or whatever. I just stayed in there and knew that everybody else was coming after me. That really helped me to stay motivated this season."

She laughs when asked how she will celebrate this evening's victory. A party in one of Helsinki's famous nightclubs? Dinner with well wishers? Certainly a late night, right?