Talena Cox Williams is Headed to the Olympics

Posted by Monica Hoel
Talena Cox Williams has graduated….to the Olympics!

Talena jokes that she was worked literally every level of athletics – from peewee league to college to professional – and now she has graduated to the Olympics in Tokyo.

Hopefully.

Talena is slated to be one of four medical directors serving a U.S. delegation of 1,800. The full medical team will include orthopedic surgeons, nutritionists, massage therapists, physical therapists, mental health specialists, and more. And in addition to all the routine concerns of keeping Olympic athletes safe, this year’s medical team will have to worry about Covid-19 concerns.

In fact, there is some question as to whether the games will even be played. If you’re following the news right now (spring of 2021) you know that there is much discussion about whether the Olympics will still be held this year due to continuing concerns about the pandemic. Talena says everything she’s hearing from the IOC (International Olympics Committee) is that they absolutely are going, and a mind-blowing array of safety details are all in place. From the times when people get to eat to super specific Covid protocols, there are mountains of details in place that are aimed at keeping everyone healthy.

Among the many new concerns for the 2021 Olympics medical staff is a condition called Post-Covid Syndrome – an affliction that affects some people who have had Covid-19. And there are also new mental health challenges, and counselors are having to prepare athletes for mental toughness in arenas with no fans in the stands.

“These athletes really should be celebrated for the stress and everything they’ve gone through in the past year to reach this level and compete. They’ve had so many obstacles that I really honor what these athletes are going through.”

Talena is the Vice President of Operations at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. After majoring in physical education at Emory & Henry, Talena got a master’s degree in education at Virginia Tech, a second bachelor’s degree in physician’s assistant at James Madison University, and then a Doctor of Medical Science at the University of Lynchburg. She is grateful for the thousands of hours of experience she was granted as a student trainer (she had 1500 hours of experience by the end of her sophomore year), and says Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Johnson taught her many useful lessons including, “If you’re on time, you’re late.”

Even with all her vast experience at every level of competition, she says she really loved working with Division III athletics. “Those players have the heart of a true athlete.”

You can enjoy a conversation with Talena in the WEHC archives (interviews are in alpha order), and if you listen you’ll find out how she’s going to work in some blue and gold with her official Olympics uniform.

  • Talena Cox Williams, Emory & Henry Class of 1995.
“These athletes really should be celebrated…”
Talena Cox Williams, Class of ’95

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