Continuing the legacy - Williams determined to add name to J’can sprinting greats
While most of her peers try to figure out what to do with themselves, Jamaican teenage speedster Briana Williams is certain about what she wants to accomplish in life.
The 17-year-old Florida native, who last week stamped her ticket to Doha, where she will represent Jamaica in the 100m, and 4x100m at the World Championships, is determined to continue the country’s rich legacy in women’s sprinting.
Williams has made a habit of lowering the National junior record in the 100m and even her harshest critic would have been impressed with her 10.94-seconds return for third place in Friday night’s final at the Supreme Ventures/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association National Senior Championships inside the National Stadium.
Now the young sprinter is looking to confirm her place as Jamaica’s next standout with a strong performance in Doha, but whatever happens there, her ambition goes well beyond.
“It means a lot because Jamaica’s track and field and its sprint legacy has a long line of excellent women, from Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson. I just want to continue that legacy,” Williams told The Gleaner.
“I know our future is bright,just by watching Champs and so on, but there are so many great talents out there and I know I, as well as the others, need to carry on that legacy, and I will try my best to do that,” she added.
She will get her first taste of international senior championships action at the September 28-October 6 World Championships in Doha, where she is hoping to lower her personal best to 10.8 seconds and at least make it to the final.
“I cannot wait. Even though it sounds like it’s far away, it’s three months away. I know I would be one of the youngest athletes, there and I just can’t wait to see what I am capable of and pushing towards my next goal of hopefully making the final,” said Williams, who competed at the trials with a fever.
The double World Under-20 sprint champion has a full appreciation of the pressures she will face to deliver on a consistent basis at this level and continue Jamaica’s rich heritage in the sprint events but says she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I don’t even think about the pressure. To me, it’s all fun. I love having the spotlight, and I know what I am capable of as long as I am healthy, doing the right things and focused. I don’t think I am pressured, I am pretty used to it and I am prepared for it, so I have fun with it,” Williams added.
Williams, who described her coach Ato Boldon, Trinidadian world and Olympic medallist, as a major figure in her development, also underlined the role played by the island’s top sprinters as far as motivation is concerned.
“He (Boldon) has been very important towards my development. He has been like a godfather to me, a father figure, a coach, mentor, everything,” said Williams.
“After the race, Elaine [Thompson] was like, ‘We are going to need that rocket start for the 4x100m’, and she was saying that she wished she was running 10.9 at the age of 17, and so they are always wishing me well, and it’s always an honour to run against them. I never thought I would run against them at 17 years old. If you asked me when I was 11 and running club track if this could be happening now, I would never imagine that this could be happening,” shared Williams, who also yesterday met with eight-time Olympic champion and double sprint world-record holder Usain Bolt.
Williams is expected to join national champion Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who both ran 10.73 at the trials, in the women’s 100m event at the World Championships.