Following 'breakthrough' Travis Williams targets spot in Jamaican team to World Championships

By February 17, 2023
Traves Williams ran a personal best 6.59 at Millrose Games on February 11, 2023. Traves Williams ran a personal best 6.59 at Millrose Games on February 11, 2023. Contributed

Before the completion of the 60m final at 2023 Millrose Games at the Armory in New York on Saturday, February 11, not many Jamaicans would have known about Travis Williams.

However, after his 6.59s run that eventually placed him second to world-record holder Christian Coleman, the 19-year-old University of Albany sophomore has now been thrust into the spotlight as perhaps the next big sprinter from Jamaica.

Coleman won the race in a season-best 6.47 with 200m World Champion Noah Lyles finishing second in 6.53, just shy of his personal best. However, he was disqualified for a false start, resulting in Williams being promoted to second.

At the time, the 6.59 made him the fastest Jamaican in the world over the distance this season.

The son of Winston Rowe and Averil Leweing, Travis grew up in St. Ann, Jamaica and attended York Castle High School. He said he competed at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships in 2017 and 2018 but emphasized that he wasn’t very good.

“I ran like 11.1 in Jamaica, nothing spectacular,” he said.

He migrated to New York in 2018 and enrolled at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx where he lettered all four years in track & field and was team captain as a senior.

While at Cardinal Hayes he was the 2021 4x200m national champion, the 2020 New Balance All-American as well as the 2021 Catholic High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) MVP.

He signed to attend the University at Albany in the fall of 2021 but hampered by injury, his freshman year anything but spectacular.

“Last season, there was a lot of ups and downs, I was hurt. I broke seven seconds in the 60m, one time. Then I ran 6.98, that was nothing spectacular,” Travis said.

However, Assistant Sprint Coach Junior Burnett recognized the potential in the young sprinter.

“Travis came to college running 6.95 in the 60m dash. (He) never knew how to execute the phases of sprinting. He learned how to develop the correct drive-phase angles, got stronger during the summer and the rest is history,” he said.

History took some amount of work, though, and it seems to be paying off for the emerging sprinter.

“Coming into this season, I had the right off-season training. It (the Millrose time) was no shock. I always told myself I was going to fast but I didn’t know it was going to be 6.59 fast,” said an excited Williams, who spoke with Sportsmax.TV earlier this week.

The first signs of what was to come began to emerge on December 2, 2022 when Travis ran 6.67 for second place in the 60m final at the Crowell Open.

A week later, he ran 6.67 again to win the dash at the Joe Donahue Games Opener having run 6.75 in the preliminaries.

He didn’t race again until January 21, 2023, when once again, he clocked 6.67 to win at the Boston University Battle in Beantown before a 6.70 run for another win at the Dr Sander Invitational Columbia Challenge.

“This is a breakthrough season for me, to be honest. My teammate, Shakur Williams, ran 6.66 and I ran 6.67 behind him. I said, ‘Hold on! I just opened my season with a 6.67 then we had a four-week break and came from the same place I left off so I was like, ‘alright, I’m consistent so at one of these meets my time will drop, I was just looking for that drop.

“So I ran 6.67 three times. I was a little upset with that but it was just setting me up for a big drop.”

The week before the Millrose Games, Travis ran 6.68 in the preliminaries and then 6.64 to win the 60m final at the Clemson Elite track meet. That performance got him invited to Millrose where the big drop finally came.

Coach Burnett believes he can go even faster but it will take time.

“Travis has the potential to run 6.49 in the 60m, but it is going to take him some time to learn the things required. (I am) hoping for 10.00/9.95 come summer,” he said.

Travis is also looking forward to the summer when Jamaica will host its national championships to select a team to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Travis intends to be in Jamaica to take a shot at qualifying.

I am definitely targeting competing at the Jamaican trials and booking a spot on the team to Worlds. That was always on my agenda. No matter what, I am going to trials this year,” he said.

“This (the 6.59) definitely sets me up for a great season outdoors. I will definitely be going to trials.”

The summer is a long way off so for now, Travis will lock in on what is immediately ahead.

“I am targetting 10.1 but I could go faster but for right now that’s my target. My focus now is on indoor and indoor nationals, but I will definitely be there for trials.”


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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