Laurie Foster | Continue working hard, Briana
From what is being heard in local track and field circles, World Junior Championships double sprint gold medallist Briana Williams can expect a warm welcome from the fans when she turns up at the JAAA National Senior Athletics Championships this weekend.
The temperature should be just as intense on the track, given that she will be competing at the senior level, facing two of the fastest sprinters in the world this year, in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce with a 100m season’s best of 10.88 seconds and Elaine Thompson, who is just shy of that pace in 2019 at 10.89. Up for grabs will be the top three spots to represent Jamaica in the event at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and a smart gambler would back that trio to face the starters.
Williams is a mere two months past her 17th birthday, and the fact that making the team for the 200m is also a distinct possibility makes her even more of a sensation than she undoubtedly is. Her frequent engagements with the media, alongside those of her coach, former World 200m champion Ato Boldon, reveals a sense of commitment and purpose, which should propel her to a future of further excellence.
To say that Jamaica’s female sprinting prospects appear to be on firm footing is not only an attempt at a pun, but does not sound like fiction.
In keeping with her prowess, awards and rewards have been pouring in. The University of the West Indies, the highest institution of learning in the region, has thrown its doors open should she decide to take an academic path to further glory. Also, a video was seen recently in which a car was gifted to her on her birthday. Even if this gesture was a gimmick of sorts, her value and impact on the sport should not be lost. Briana is no ordinary athlete. She looms large and with the proper guidance and focus, there is no valid reason to believe that she will not get better.
With all this in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that all the conversation surrounding this phenomenal athlete speaks to the positive influence that her efforts could have on the country’s continued global advance in the sport. However, anyone schooled in the ways in which the minds of men work should not be surprised at any adverse opinions. No matter how uplifting and stimulating the message, there will be those who take the time to devalue and, in some way, detract from the quality which those in their right minds are seeing.
There is a most enthusiastic responder to this column who is Jamaican but resides in the United States (US). That individual has been most adversely critical regarding the reasons the US-born Williams has chosen to compete for the country of her mother’s birth. In his obvious ignorance, he cites her as not being able to make the American team, referring to the awesome talent that has always been on show there. He has also mentioned that there are racist implications in the way Briana has been embraced by her own Jamaican people.
This argument is baseless. It cannot stand up to scrutiny. One can only conclude that his knowledge of this great sport is at a frighteningly low level.
To Briana, Foster’s Fairplay says, be mindful of those who seek to discount your achievements. You have set standards that lay a solid foundation for some youths who are trying to make a name for themselves and bring honour and glory to their families in much the same way as you are doing. Keep it going, Briana. Make Jamaica proud.
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