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?

  夺冠是艰难的,而卫冕则更难。如果你理解这句话的含义,那么你就能体会到巴拿马选手威廉姆斯·达琳10日晚在女子400米决赛中夺取金牌所带给人们的强烈震撼力。这种震撼甚至超过了一年前达琳在雅典奥运会女子400米决赛中“称后”。

  据国际田联官方网站10日报道,在赫尔辛基风雨交加中进行的女子400米决赛,达琳在最后一个弯道摆脱了美国名将桑亚·理查德斯和墨西哥选手、世界冠军奎瓦拉的双重夹击,以49秒55的成绩率先冲过终点,完成了从奥运会冠军到世锦赛冠军的一个艰苦征程。

  达琳说:“我必须说,从雅典奥运会冠军再到一年后今天的世锦赛冠军,这是一种从一个巅峰再到一个巅峰的不同寻常的经历。夺取冠军对于我以及所有巴哈马人来说,都是一个意义重大的历史时刻。我的心中充满了感激之情。同时,此时此刻我也无比的幸福。”

  她说:“夺冠的道路对我来说是不平坦的。说实话,在奥运会之后的季前休整期,每天去田径场上参加训练,对我而言简直就是一种痛苦,毕竟在奥运会结束后整个身心都很疲惫。但我坚持下来了,随着赛季的来临,特别是在赫尔辛基世界田径锦标赛开赛前的两周,我再一次体验到了对比赛的渴望,做好了迎接大赛的准备。

  达琳在获得世锦赛女子400米金牌后没有忘记她的丈夫——巴哈马男子400米选手丹尼斯·达林和朋友们的支持。有了朋友和家人的支持,达琳很快战胜了奥运会后的疲劳并脚踏实地地投入到了日常的训练中。

  达琳表示:“(在奥运会之后)我的生活发生了一些改变,但就训练和比赛而言,并没有什么太大的变化。我所要做的就是,就像从来也没有拿过奥运会冠军那样投入训练中去。我知道作为奥运会冠军,人人都想以我为目标,在比赛中超过我,而这也成为了我在这个赛季里的动力源泉。”

  今年27岁的达琳在成为职业运动员之前,曾经在美国的南卡罗来纳大学和后来的佐治亚大学进修商业管理专业。但在达琳遇见美国田径教练里迪克之后,她的生活从此发生了翻天覆地的变化。

  谈到和1976年奥运会男子4x100米冠军得主里迪克的相遇,达琳并没有透露更多的细节。她说:“我是在2000年在田径场和他第一次见面的。那时他是巴拿马2000年奥运代表队的教练。”虽然达琳对教练里迪克的描述不多,但她对教练的感激却是不言而喻的,因为正是里迪克将达琳最终带进了田径名人殿堂,帮助她捧得了奥运会冠军和世锦赛冠军,同时也帮助达琳一举“脱贫”。在2004年的田径黄金联赛上,达琳获得了50万美元的奖金,这要比世锦赛冠军的6万美元多很多。当然并不是金钱在刺激着达琳勇往直前。

  胜利之后应该怎样去庆祝呢?是去大吃一顿,还是去赫尔辛基当地最有名的夜总会过一个不眠之夜呢?对于这样的问题,达琳笑着回答说:“怎么庆祝?对于我来说,庆祝就是去好好睡上一觉,因为每次比赛前我都不能很好地入睡,或许今晚我应该好好地放松一下,我感觉有些疲倦了。”

  这次,达琳的家人一个也没有来赫尔辛基观看比赛。他们准备在达琳返回家乡后再举行庆祝。不过,达琳在世锦赛比赛结束之后并不会直接返回巴拿马,因为她还要继续在欧洲进行巡回比赛。达琳最早也要在今年的10月份才能踏上巴拿马的土地和家人、朋友欢聚一堂。

  “你知道,”达琳解释说,“田径比赛几乎贯穿一整年。在比赛多的年份,我必须随时保持训练和比赛的状态,不能有所放松。通常我会尽可能多地往返于赛场和家乡之间,做到比赛和探亲两不误,一般来说一年我回家四到五次吧。我的职业就是这样,今天在这,明天在那。希望在退役后能更多地呆在家里。”

  谈到家人,达琳表示:“通常在大型比赛里,我妈妈总是会来观看比赛的,但这一次她来不了。比赛的前一天我和他们通了电话,他们告诉我,拿不到金牌就别回家。所以,我想他们今夜一定非常快活吧。”

  的确,他们有理由为达琳而感到高兴,因为达琳的世锦赛400米金牌,意味着这位巴拿马姑娘有能力捍卫自己世界第一的位置。