When Briana Williams finished ninth in the 100m dash at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on May 28, she could not have imagined the wave of negative reaction that was to follow on social media.

After a successful indoor season during which she ran a new lifetime best of 7.04 while finishing fifth in the 60m final at the World Indoor Championships in Serbia in March, Williams and her coach Ato Boldon turned their attention to preparing to compete in Jamaica’s National Senior Championships at the end of June with the intention of making Jamaica’s team to the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene in July.

Apparently, the heavy workload had taken its toll and Williams, who won gold in the 4x100m relay at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, was clearly not at her best. Following the run in Oregon, social media blew up with toxic narratives. She was not progressing fast enough. She needs to leave Boldon. Other Jamaican women had surpassed her now.

Those criticisms stung and were partly behind her decision to travel to Jamaica to compete at the JAAA/SDF Jubilee Meet at Jamaica College in Kingston on Saturday. There, she ran a wind-assisted 10.91 (3.4m/s) in the preliminary round and then returned for the final where she ran a season's best 10.98 which went a long way toward silencing the armchair coaches.

“I definitely did,” said Williams while speaking with Sportsmax.TV after her triumphant performance on Saturday night.

“We don’t always have perfect races. Last week (Oregon) wasn’t my best. I wasn’t feeling my best but I am glad I got this meet in, was able to have a prelim and a final and finish healthy with a new season’s best.”

In truth, following her performance at the Prefontaine Classic when she clocked a relatively pedestrian 11.20, Williams did begin to doubt herself. However, those doubts were quickly extinguished by Coach Boldon.

“Well, I only had Prefontaine that was really bad. After the race, I was like ‘Oh My God, what’s going on? I am putting in the work’, but my coach said just trust the process. The work is there in training; you just have to wait. Everyone has their time, and we will not always have the best races,” she said.

“I would love for people to actually understand that we’re human beings and we’re athletes and we go through a lot and one bad race, we bounce back into a good race and we move forward.”

In fact, Williams believes that despite what the naysayers believe, she has been having a really good season.

“This season has been going well so far, especially indoors, my first full season indoors, 7.04. No one at 19 has done that and just to be the youngest at the World Indoor Championships and to place fifth really meant a lot,” she said.

“After indoors I went straight into training, heavy training, and I think that was where I was feeling it, at Prefontaine.”

Now with that disappointing performance clearly behind her, Williams is now firmly focused on being at her best for Jamaica’s National Senior Championships from June 23-26, when she will face off against some of the fastest women in the world with the aim of booking a ticket to Oregon in July.

To do that she will face as deep a field as she has ever faced in Jamaica. In addition to the usual suspects, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who will compete despite having a bye to Oregon as the defending 100m champion and Shericka Jackson, Williams will come up against an in-form Kevona Davis, Natasha Morrison, Remona Burchell, Natalliah Whyte, Kemba Nelson and Shockoria Wallace all of whom have been having strong seasons.

Notwithstanding the depth of talent, the Olympic gold medallist said nothing will change in how she prepares for the fierce battles ahead.

“Never, it is always the same. It is always a hot field and I always perform my best when the time is right,” she said.

“I know that trials will be hard. Everyone is running fast. That is how it’s supposed to be. I am looking forward to trials.”

 

When you think about the greatest athletes of all time in any sport, Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic gold medallist and multiple world record holder Usain Bolt, will always come to mind.

Bolt, who retired in 2017, dominated global athletics for a decade winning the 100/200m sprint double in an unprecedented three consecutive Olympic Games (2008, 2012 and 2016). He also won the sprint double at the 2009, 2013, and 2015 World Championships to go along with the 200m title he won in Daegu in 2011. Bolt's world records of 9.58 and 19.19 set in 2009, have remained unchallenged for more than a decade. 

His dominance was something many expected when they first saw him and track & field pundit and four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon is no different.

“I always thought Bolt could be special if somebody bridged that gap between his junior success and getting into the pros and his coach Glen Mills did that,” Boldon said in an interview with Athletics Weekly.

Boldon recalled how remarkable Bolt was the first time he ever saw him compete.

“The first time I saw him was actually a long way before the rest of the world was paying attention. He was at the Caribbean Games in 2004 and he set the World U20 200m record, clocking 19.93. It lasted all the way until last year,” he said. The USA Erriyon Knighton broke Bolt's U18 and U20 world records in 2021.

“He had his chain tucked into his mouth and he took the last 100m off. He was looking at girls in the stand and could’ve waved to the crowd, he was so far in front. He ran 19.93! Imagine a junior doing that? I’d never seen anybody that tall move their legs that quickly. Of course, he went to the Athens Olympics later on that year and didn’t get through the first round. Then in 2005, he re-emerges and he’s on the pro circuit,” he added.

Bolt’s rise didn’t come without setbacks as in 2005, he got to the final of the Men’s 200m at the World Championships in Helsinki and was in position for a medal before he pulled up injured with about 60 metres to go, finishing eighth in 26.27.

“Two years later in 2007, he gets the World 200m silver medal (in Osaka, Japan) behind Tyson Gay and he arrives. Everyone knows what then happened in Beijing in 2008,” Boldon said.

"As they say, the rest is history."

Four-time Olympic medallist for Trinidad and Tobago Ato Boldon believes that Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce can both challenge Florence Griffith Joyner’s 34-year-old 100m World Record.

Currently the coach of young Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams, Boldon has tipped the Olympic gold and silver medallist from the 100m at last year’s Tokyo Olympics to challenge Joyner’s mark of 10.49 which she did at the US Olympic Trials in 1988.

“I think they’re both certainly capable,” he said in an interview with Athletics Weekly before going on to outline that he thinks Thompson-Herah may have a better chance at the record.

“I don’t know if anybody else in the immediacy can do that but I’d give Elaine a better chance just because of her form. She is so much better at 200m than so many others. I also don’t think you can look at her 10.54 at Hayward Field last year, considering she was kind of fatigued after coming off three gold medals in Tokyo, and not think there’s another five hundredths of a second somewhere to tie the 10.49,” he added.

As he mentioned, Thompson-Herah, who is 29-years-old, lowered her own personal best to 10.54 at the Eugene Diamond League last year leaving many, including Boldon, anticipating a record-breaking performance from her in the near future.

“I would probably be surprised if 10.49 survives Elaine Thompson-Herah’s career,” he said.

Fraser-Pryce, now 35-years-old, also had a stunning season in 2021, lowering her personal best to 10.60 at the Lausanne Diamond League in August.

“I don’t know how long Shelly-Ann has got left but I don’t think Tokyo was her last Olympics and I think she’ll go out after Paris in 2024. She has the talent as well. I mean, she ran 10.63 in April so anything is possible,” Boldon said.

 

 

 

 

 

If Ato Boldon’s words are anything to go by, we should expect big things from his pupil Briana Williams at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

Williams, who was selected on Jamaica’s team for the 60m, started her season on January 14 at the Purple Tiger meet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with times of 7.20 in the preliminaries and 7.18 in the final.

On January 29th, the Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist ran 7.22 to finish fourth at the Millrose Games in New York. She returned to New York a week later at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix running 7.09 in the preliminaries, a personal best, and 7.11 in the final.

“The Briana that ran 7.19 in January and 7.09 in February has improved steadily and I think she’s ready to be a factor in Serbia,” Boldon, the four-time Olympic and two-time World Championship medallist, said in an interview with Sportsmax.Tv.

“Is there another 60m PR coming? I believe so. That’s why we are going,” he added.

The World Indoor Championships will be held from Friday, March 18-Sunday, March 20 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Ewa Swoboda (6.99), Marybeth Sant-Price (7.04), Mujinga Kambundji (7.05), and Mikiah Briscoe (7.07) are the only participants that have gone faster than Williams this season.

 

 

Jamaica’s Olympic gold medallist Briana Williams will be made available to represent Jamaica at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade from March 18-20.

Jamaica’s Olympic relay gold medalist Briana Williams will line up against a stacked field in the 60m at Saturday’s Millrose Games at The Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in New York and she is excited by the prospect of the possibilities of what she can deliver.

The 19-year-old Williams will face the likes of Aleia Hobbs and Mikiah Brisco both of whom defeated her in Louisiana, a fortnight ago. Also in the line-up is two-time Olympian English Gardner and Tokyo Olympics 200m bronze medalist Gabby Thomas.

The 2018 World U20 champion, who has been working on her speed these past two weeks, said she is relishing the challenge.

“I feel excited and ready because I've been doing well in training and I’ve focused more on speed work this week to gear up for this meet. The 60m field is loaded so I can’t wait to see how I do,” said the talented teen who is hardly ever daunted by the occasion.

Meanwhile, her coach Ato Boldon sees this as another opportunity for Williams to get more accustomed to competing at the senior level.

“The line-up for the Millrose Games will be a great challenge for Briana as she works through being calm under pressure, which is critical for senior-level competition,” he said.

Williams is one of track and field’s most promising young athletes. She was a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where she became the youngest Jamaican ever to win an Olympic gold medal.

Jamaica’s Olympic relay gold medalist Briana Williams has been named among Athletics Weekly’s (AW) nominees for International Junior Athlete Female for 2021.

Briana Williams’ four races over two days last weekend was a test, one that she passed with flying colours notwithstanding a minor slip of along the way.

Despite the intense rivalry they shared on the track during the 1990s, two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers said she always admired and respected Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for her talent and longevity.

The rivals met in a number of major finals that were talked about for years, especially the epic 1993 World Championships 100m finals in Stuttgart, Germany and the Olympic Games in Atlanta, three years later.

Prior to those two years, Devers and Ottey met in the finals of the 100m finals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 when Devers won her first Olympic 100 title in 10.80s. Ottey was fifth in 10.88 in one of the closest finals in history. 0.08 seconds separated the first five places.

That race marked the beginning of a tense rivalry between Devers and Ottey that would only intensify over the next four years.

In Stuttgart, Devers got off to a flyer and was ahead midway the race but she was being reeled in by a fast-closing Ottey, who with her final strides appeared to have caught the diminutive American as they crossed the line together.

Unsure of who won, the finalists stood around looking up at the scoreboard for what seemed like an eternity. Officials eventually announced that Devers had been awarded the victory even though both she and the Jamaican icon were given the same time of 10.82.

Jamaican protested the result but the decision upheld, handing the American.

By 1996, the 36-year-old Ottey was at her fifth Olympics, Devers her third, and once again they came face to face in the 100m finals and once again, history repeated itself. Devers got off to a great start only to be reeled in by Ottey and sure enough, they crossed the finish line together.

Both were timed in 10.94 but like in Stuttgart, the American was given the nod. The circumstances created tensions between the two countries and their athletes. However, Devers said those tensions were simply about competition.

“You just get caught up in ‘this is competition and you got coaches who say we’re going to protest this,” Devers told Ato Boldon on his Athletics Live show on Instagram last week.

She said she had no idea why things turned out the way they did, why it always seemed to come down to her and Ottey.

“It keeps coming up that it’s these two every time. I don’t know why it was always us but we were always willing to go to the wire,” she said.

Devers explained that in the early days' everyone kind of kept to themselves, leaving little to interact with her rivals.

“When we were competing, it was (Irina) Privalova, it was me, it was Gwen Torrence, it was that four that you could not pick who was going to win on that day,” she said.

“And we can’t duck each other, we gotta go, we gotta run, gotta bring you’re A-plus game because they’re bringing their A-game. So with Merlene, I always knew she was a great athlete and I would always tell her ‘You still running, shoot…”

She said that as time passed, they both got the chance to get to know each other and the tensions cooled.

“While you’re competing everybody is in their own camp, you don’t sit there and socialize anyway, but as we got older, going to awards ceremonies or even with social media, we were able to talk to each other,” she said.

“She knows that I have always admired her because I don’t care at what age, if she steps out there now I am concerned. You might want to be worried because if she is in the lane, she is ready to go.”

Is Florence Griffith-Joyner, the greatest female sprinter of all time?

It depends on who you ask.

For many Americans, the late flamboyant American woman who holds the world record in both 100 and 200m, and also won three gold medals at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, is the one. Outside the US, the answer is not as clear as many believe that a certain Jamaican, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion, is in fact the greatest.

This week, Olympian turned coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon might have changed one iconic American’s mind about who is truly the greatest female sprinter of all time.

During his Athletics Live interview on Instagram with Flo-Jo's best friend and two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers on Wednesday, Boldon asked Devers, who she thought was the greatest female sprinter. It was a question posed by a viewer.

‘I’ve got to go with the world-record holder,” said Devers matter-of-factly, after a brief pause. 

Boldon, a big fan of Griffith-Joyner, replied: “I get into trouble with that because I have to broadcast with my head and not my heart. I can’t have any allegiance and I look at what Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has done. Two gold medals and a bronze in back-to-back-to-back; the four world titles, more than anybody else, male or female. I know she doesn’t have the world record, obviously, but if you go ‘Tom Brady is the greatest or (basketball legend) Bill Russell or whoever is the greatest; it’s based on the championships,” Boldon opined while Devers nodded in agreement.

Boldon, who like Griffith-Joyner attended UCLA and admitted that he worshipped the ground she walked on, also reasoned that Flo-Jo only had one great season when she set world records in both the 100m and 200m and then went to the Olympics and won the sprint double and the 4x100m relay and picked up a silver behind Russia in the 4x400m.

“Yes, it was the greatest year ever, but it was the one year,” he said.

Devers then responded saying “I get what you’re saying” but Boldon continued to reinforce his point pointing out that if anyone asked Mike Powell, who has held the long jump world record for 30 years now, who is the greatest long jumper, he would say Carl Lewis “without even thinking about it.”

Lewis won long jump gold in four consecutive Olympic Games – 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.

But the Trinidadian was not done. He added that most people would never consider Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder, the greatest 400m runner of all time over Michael Johnson.

“You have to apply the rules the same way,” Boldon said. “Most world record holders aren’t necessarily the greatest.”

Confronted by the veracity of the points Boldon made, Devers relented.

“You’re right, you’re right,” she agreed. “It’s as you said, it’s the consistency, it’s how many titles, can they come back-to-back. I have to give some second thought to that. You’re right.”

 

 

 

 

Track and field coach and broadcaster Ato Boldon believes the USA’s Sha’ Carri Richardson is now favoured to break Jamaica’s stranglehold on the Olympic 100m title this summer, following her jaw-dropping 100m run at the Miramar South Florida Invitational on Saturday.

Briana Williams is set to make her season debut on Saturday, February 13 at the New Balance Grand Prix that this year will be held in New York instead of Boston, and according to her coach Ato Boldon, she is eager to get going.

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