Stronger and faster, Brianna Lyston eyes spot on Jamaica's Olympic team to Paris, says coach

By January 31, 2024

Having spent most of her freshman season at Louisiana State University (LSU) adapting to a new program and overcoming physical challenges, Jamaica’s Brianna Lyston is ready to showcase her immense talents while eyeing the challenge of a sprint-double campaign at her country’s national championships in June.

According to LSU Head Track and Field Coach Dennis Shaver, the plan for the 19-year-old former Hydel High School star is to attempt making Jamaica’s team for the Olympic Games in Paris in both the 100m and 200m races.

Lyston gave an indication of her early readiness to be competitive this season when she ran a fast 7.07 to win the 60m dash at the Razorback Invitational last weekend. The time tied Aleia Hobbs’ school record and is the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.

Intriguingly, Coach Shaver revealed that the fast time was not really a surprise given how well Lyston had been training leading up to the meet but hinted that she could have gone even faster.

“Well, it's hard to predict what she would run. But I did know that when we're doing starts in training and so forth for 30, 40 or 50 meters, she was executing quite well in training, but it's always hard in the 60 to predict what their actual finish time is going to be. But I knew that, just based on what some of our other athletes that she trains with, what they were running, I had a pretty good idea that she was going to run in the 60 m this last week.

“And that's why we entered her always because we felt like, in communicating with her, we both felt that she was ready to execute the race well. And so I was proud of her. She just ran, I think, 14 (7.14) in the prelims and felt really easy. And I said, well, when you get in the final now, don't try to run real fast, just try to execute, and I think that's what she did.”

This early indicator, Coach Shaver believes, is why Lyston – all things being equal - will be in the mix when she goes up against her more experienced compatriots at the Jamaica national championships come June.

“She's going to be ready, and she's going to be able to run at the Jamaican trials and try to make the Olympic team. That's just one of the goals now. If we don't make it, it's not the end of the world. She's so young, but the reality of it is that I think the experience of her running in under 20s was a real positive thing,” Coach Shaver said of the 2022 World U20 200m champion.

“And so I think, the younger you are to make an Olympic team and be able to perform at Olympic level, it is one more year of experience you have for the next time that rolls around.”

Coach Shaver explained that even though Lyston is known more for her prowess over 200m, he is not ruling out her aiming for a spot on Jamaica’s 100m team to Paris as well.

“I wouldn't eliminate the 100 meters from the possibility either. And I know there are some great Jamaican 100m people, but I think she can be in that mix too, just based on that 7.07.”

The journey to this point has not been easy for Lyston, who has had a history of physical challenges during her high school career. That was pretty much the case when she arrived at LSU for her freshman year, Coach Shaver revealed.

 During her freshman year indoors, Lyston ran two 60m dashes peaking at 7.29 as well as a single 200m in which she ran 23.54 in New Mexico. Outdoors, she raced over 200m four times. She also ran in seven 4x100m relays and a single 4x400m relay.

Coach Shaver explained the reason behind why she ran such a limited number of races.

“Most people that know me know that I'm pretty patient. When I don't feel like somebody's really prepared to perform at an adequate level just based on training, I just don't race them. So last year I just felt like it was a big transition for Brianna. But I think that as we went through the year with her, she adapted more and more to what we were asking her to do. And I think she's just grown from there,” he said.

“She had a really good fall, this fall of training, and I think that led to what happened this (past) weekend. I just didn't feel like until now I really had her prepared to perform well and be able to do it safely and not injure herself.”

Injuries were something that the LSU coaching staff had to help the now bigger and stronger Lyston overcome during that difficult freshman year.

“There were things that we do in training that she did some things really good, but she didn't do everything really good. So until she got and adapted and started adapting to the training and then, of course, I just think this year there's a lot more focus more confidence, which is obviously very important and it's a tribute to her and believing in what we do and working within those parameters that we're asking her to do,” Coach Shaver said.

“I think also we've got an excellent medical staff that diagnosed things that needed to be worked on. It's just taking this long before I really feel like collectively we had her prepared to run fast and stay healthy.”

For her standout performance on the weekend, Lyston was named USTFCCCA Female Athlete of the Week.

 

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 SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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