Atlanta, Ga --
The stage was set. The lights were dim and beaming a glaze of warmth on to the competitors oiled skin as they walked across stage ready to display their hard work. The preparation was over. It was show time.
“Most of the time I feel like I have won before I get on stage,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ajanel Williams, a logistics chief with Recruiting Station Cleveland, and competitor.
Williams won first place in the figure division at the Chicago Pro show in Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 18, 2020. She has competed in five professional bodybuilding competitions, achieving first place in four of them.
Following her latest achievement at the Chicago Pro show, she was invited to compete this December in Las Vegas at Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend, commonly known as the Olympia, one of the most prominent bodybuilding competitions in the world.
Early in her 11-year active duty career, she struggled with the physical fitness test (PFT) and the combat fitness test (CFT), and even failed the initial strength test (IST) in recruit training. Once she understood the expectations that she would be held to, Williams started lifting to keep pace with the demanding physical standards of the Marine Corps.
She quickly developed a great passion for weight lifting. People would ask her if she competed professionally and Williams, who was initially focused on Marine Corps fitness standards, would respond, “I’m just trying to make weight and stay in shape.”
Now, Williams does not just workout to prepare for upcoming Marine Corps fitness tests, she works out to compete in and win bodybuilding competitions.
“Once I had the proper coaching and proper nutrition, I took off,” said Williams, the 5-foot, 10-inch competitor, as she talked about her journey. She said she decided to hire a coach and adhere to a modified diet to further her competition readiness.
Williams is not just a Marine, she’s also a single parent. With her active duty schedule and the responsibilities of raising her 8-year-old daughter, Alana, she said that although it could have been easy to do, she did not allow herself to succumb to excuses.
”I want to be able to walk the walk. I want to show people, even with my obligations, even with my daughter, even with being active duty, I’m still able to set a goal and accomplish that goal if I stay consistent with the plan,” said Williams, the 2019 Camp Pendleton female athlete of the year.
Annually, she writes down her goals on a piece of paper. She said she believes if you write them down and follow through, you will achieve it.
”If you really dedicate yourself to that process, you can do anything,” said Williams.
She wrote down that she will compete for the Figure Olympia. This year is not any different for Williams; she intends to reach her goal.