Story by DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director
The life and career of an athlete is always impacted by the people in his or her life. Coaches, teammates, friends, fans and most importantly, family, all have an influence over the way they see themselves and their success. For Baylor track and field senior sprinter and Waco native Wil London, one of the people who has made the biggest difference in his life is his mother, Jacquelyn.
“She’s always impacted [my life], I mean since day one,” London said. “I started running track when I was 4 and her and my dad got me into it. I’ve always looked to her for guidance. She’s always been to every track meet, every basketball game I’ve played.”
In December 2018, London learned that his mother was ill. She had a tumor inside of her skull that she had to get removed through surgery. According to London, the most difficult part about the situation was not knowing what would happen next.
“It was one of those things where it was on my mind at all times and I just didn’t want to lose my mom,” London said. “When she was going to get surgery and I found out about it, it kind of sucked, but I knew that I had to not focus on it and be strong for her and just show her that whatever was going to happen I was still going to be here and I was still going to continue what she started.”
The surgery went well, and London’s mother returned home to recover. London has continued to be there for his mother, visiting her every day in the hospital after classes and practice, and visiting her every day now that she has returned home. He even went as far as shaving his head to show his support, an act that he shared on Twitter and that has garnered the attention and support of many.
Former head coach Clyde Hart, now Baylor’s director of track and field, said he wasn’t surprised that London would show support for his mother in that way.
“Everyone was concerned for his mother, knowing how close and tight that they were. He’s the youngest in the family, and so there’s quite a bond there between he and his mother,” Hart said. “It didn’t surprise me that, his mother getting prepared for the surgery had to shave her head, and Wil did the same thing. She didn’t ask him to do that. That was just something for him to show his support and for her not to be embarrassed.”
London is entering his final season on Baylor’s track and field team. He has long list of achievements in his four years as Bear. A three time All-American, he has won three Big 12 championship titles and received a silver medal in the 4×400 meter relay when he ran for Team USA in the 2017 World Championships. According to Hart, London has always been a competitor.
“Wil obviously is a very talented young man. He kind of was an unknown out of high school other than the area of Waco,” Hart said. “I always thought he was a great competitor and I had my eyes on him for a long time and certainly went over and recruited him his senior year. … I knew he had a lot of potential and certainly he’s lived up to that.”
London hopes to win another championship in his final season, after which he intends to run professionally. Being a professional runner has always been his goal, but he decided to continue his education because it was what his mother wanted for him.
“My initial thought was to leave and just go make money but I’m only in school to get my degree for her and let her know that it’s for her,” London said.
After running professionally, London plans on becoming a high school track coach.
“I’ve always loved helping kids and just making sure they’re on the right path, not only on the track but also in school,” London said. “I just want to be there for them and just let them know that even I from Waco can do it. So can they.”
Source: The Baylor Lariat