(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – She is young, she is exciting and she is definitely promising to be one of Jamaica’s next big track and field stars, all things being equal.
American-born Briana Williams, whose performances in her hometown of Miramar, Florida, has far exceeded expectations, is fast becoming a household name in Jamaica, and rightly so.
Williams made history recently when she clocked a new world 15-year-old age-group 100-metre record of 11.13 seconds (+1.7 mps) at the Bob Hayes Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida.
With that time clocked a few days before her 16th birthday, Williams erased Marion Jones’ 27-year-old mark of 11.17.
Prior to that, Williams was also a four-time junior Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m from years 2012-2015, as well as the fastest high school freshman and All American for 2017.
In 2012 she lost only one race and took home 23 gold medals, and was the best sprinter in the USA in her age group in 2015, which earned her the keys to the city of Miramar.
So with her credentials in the United States there for all to see, Williams, who inherited her Jamaican stripes and athletic abilities from her mother Sharon Simpson, is now eager to make it big for the black, green and gold.
“It feels really great to run for Jamaica. When I was younger I would always travel to Jamaica to see my family and I fell in love with the country at first sight, and growing up I would always watch the Jamaican athletes running on TV and it amazed me. So that spurred the decision to represent Jamaica rather than USA,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer shortly before departing her home in Florida for Jamaica yesterday.
Williams declared that there is no intent to attend school in Jamaica, as there were rumours that she would be attending Wolmer’s Girls’ where her mother played field hockey in her time.
However, the Oakland Park high school sophomore has set herself a range of targets as one of the country’s next generation of stars and her desire could be met sooner rather than later.
The Ato Boldon-coached athlete is a part of a strong 76-member team scheduled to represent the country at the March 31-April 2 Carifta Games in The Bahamas.
After winning the sprint double at the Carifta Trials earlier this month with times of 11.53 and new 200m personal best of 23.24, Williams will be a force to reckon with in the Under-17 category.
“I have set myself some goals and expectations for representing Jamaica. I achieved phase one, which is to make a lot of the teams, and now I just want to go out there and do my very best. It feels awesome to have made history at the age of 15; I am very proud of myself and I just want to set more world records and create history.
“I plan to achieve them by working hard, to believe in myself and to follow all directions Coach Ato gives. He has gotten me this far and I believe in him whole heartedly,” Williams noted of the four-time Olympic medal winner.
Williams is known for her work ethic, drive and desire to win, which is testament to her impressive credentials of over 100 medals, three-quarters of which are gold won over the last six to seven years.
“Inspite of all that, I just want to remain humble, focused and keep working hard and improve with each stride, and with that I know I will become a better athlete,” she stated.
Williams, who was once again in the island soaking up the excitement at the recently concluded ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Athletic Championships, recollects the experience.
“It was a fantastic feeling; I met many new people that follow me in track and field. Champs is special to me even though I can’t compete there; but being there to see these young talented athletes compete hard amidst the excitement of the crowd is an amazing experience.
“Kevona is a good athlete, really strong in the 200m, and I think it would be a fun and exciting race to watch if I was to compete at Champs in her class. But watching her over the weekend at champs was exciting because I knew she would do good and break the champs records and her performances were excellent,” Williams ended.