Coming off another impressive campaign at the 2019 Carifta Games in the Cayman Islands last weekend, Briana Williams will arrive at Jamaica’s National Championships in June ready up the ante.
On Sunday, for a second time in as many years, the 17-year-old speedster won the Austin Sealy Award, the trophy given to the most outstanding athlete at the Carifta Games.
Her season-best 11.25s in the 100m, world u20 leading 22.89s in the 200m and 4×100 relay gold ensured that she became only the second Jamaican behind Usain Bolt to win back-to-back awards and the first Jamaican female to do so.
That was just the kind of boost she needed as she begins her preparation for the national championships from June 20-23 in Kingston.
“She fully believes she can make both sprint teams, as I do,” said Boldon [Briana’s coach] in the wake of Williams’ latest successes.
“Her work ethic and willingness to sacrifice have gone up significantly, and I think that is why this year is off to such a great start. When that gun goes off for the National finals in Kingston, Briana will be ready to set new PRs, and when your PRs are 11.13 and 22.50, that puts you in a great position.”
Two years ago, Boldon and Williams crafted a plan to get the then 15-year-old athlete on a plane to Qatar in September 2019, fulfilling a dream to represent her country at a senior athletic championship.
In 2018, she took a giant step towards that goal when she won the sprint double at the IAAF World U20 in Tampere, Finland.
In eight weeks, it will be time to take another major step forward.
“We set the goal after last year for Doha and making the senior team, and of course, to some, that seemed lofty. I think those are the only types of goals you should set,” Boldon said.
“The coach/athlete relationship is a lot stronger now after the world under 20’s last July because Briana truly believes me when I say something now.
“I told her in December of 2017, she’d be World under 20 champion and you could see the doubt. In her mind, she was still only 15 at the time, with one Carifta bronze to her name, and that meet is an under 20 meet. That doubt is gone now.”
Up next is the final baptism of fire. The battle for a spot going up against the likes of Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce; CAC champion Jonielle Smith and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Christania Williams and others who harbour similar aspirations.
It will be a tall task but Boldon is confident and more importantly, so is Briana, who said on Sunday that she can’t wait.
“We are about eight weeks out from the Trials,” Boldon said.
“I’m looking at these next eight weeks as the turn for home in a horse race. She’s close to the lead, well-positioned, and now I just have to make sure her stretch run is perfect and good things will happen in Jamaica.”