Briana Williams' 'big step' forward at Racers Grand Prix

By June 11, 2018
Briana Williams got a flyer and had to be caught by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Jenna Prandini. Briana Williams got a flyer and had to be caught by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Jenna Prandini.

Briana Williams took a big test at the Racers Grand Prix on Saturday and came through with flying colours.

So far this season, the 16-year-old phenomenon set a world’s age-group best for 15-year-olds in March with a blazing 11.13s run at the Bob Hayes Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida. She won the sprint double at the 2018 Carifta Games in the Bahamas in early April and then triumphed over arch-rival Tamari Davis at the Florida Hugh School State Championships. A fortnight ago she won again at the Great Southwest Classic in New Mexico.

However, on Saturday she wasn’t running against teenagers. She was up against one of the fastest women in history in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a two-time Olympic champion and seven-time world champion; 2011 World Championship bronze medalist Kelly-Ann Baptiste, 2015 NCAA champion Jenna Prandini, 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Gayon Evans and 2018 Commonwealth Games finalist Natasha Morrison.

It mattered little.

Williams exploded from the blocks and raced to a third place finish behind Fraser-Pryce (11.14) and Prandini (11.14), crossing the line in 11.26s. She may have lost but she had proven that she belonged.

“I couldn’t be more pleased. The whole week I told her if you don’t get out well these ladies will get away from you, so give yourself a fighting chance by having your best start,” said Williams’ coach Ato Boldon.

“It’s the best start she’s ever had, and confirms what I’ve said all year - that when she starts at her best, she’s in the top three or four starters in the world, regardless of age.”

Boldon said Saturday’s race is a seminal moment in the young sprinter’s career.

“It’s a big step because let’s face it, less than three months ago she was 15. If she can handle that kind of pressure at this age, she’s ready for anything,” he said.

“I love that they put her next to Shelly-Ann for the race. That’s in line with my philosophy for her - if it scares you, let’s face it head-on. That thinking got her a 54.0 relay split this season.”

Boldon said he sees Williams as a member of Jamaica’s team in Doha for the IAAF World Championships in 2019.

“I’ve already told her that her aim should be to lead off the relay for Jamaica as she has the last two years at Carifta, but at every level – Carifta, U20 and seniors.”

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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