Feature | Athletics

The new Jamaican sprint sensation? Briana Williams is ready for the big stage - at 17

Jamaica have sent a really strong team to the Pan Am Games including Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson. Williams is also there.

By Edward Knowles ·

A scan down the list of athletes Jamaica sent to Pan American Games in Lima contains some of the usual suspects.

Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson is there along with double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

But there’s also a 17-year-old called Briana Williams on the track at training.

She's made the Jamaica team for the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha.

"I want to get into the 100m final (at worlds) and hopefully get gold in the 4x100m relay," she told the Olympic Channel in Peru.

Her ambitions don't stop at winning world titles.

I do imagine myself winning an (Olympic) medal in Tokyo and in Paris - Briana Williams

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Briana Williams: the next Jamaican sprint hope

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Coached by Ato Boldon

The teenager is coached by NBC commentator and four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon.

“Jamaica have already anointed her… She will be the ‘next one’,” Boldon said on the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“(Paris) 2024 and 2028 in Los Angeles – they are going to be more of her prime Olympics (than Tokyo 2020).

Boldon smiles.

“Not that we would rule out anything happening next year.”

Briana Williams – The story so far

The teenager burst on the scene with an impressive win at the 100m final at the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Her face was one of pure joy as she crossed the finish line.

Briana Williams of Jamaica wins 100m at IAAF World U20 Championships 

Williams has taken the step up to senior races in her stride.

She has already qualified for the World Championships in Doha with an impressive time of 10.94s in the 100m.

“I want to be as great as (Usain) Bolt and be the greatest female athlete,” she said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“I don’t know if I can ever touch FloJo’s record. But hopefully run near those times.”

Stiff competition: Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and Elaine Thompson

She faces stiff competition in her own country. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has made a blistering return to the track since becoming a mother.

She spent the whole of the 2018 season away from competitive athletics to give birth to her son Zyon.

The 32-year-old finished in first place at the Jamaican world championships trials with a time of 10.73.

Elaine Thompson clocked the exact same time to book her place in Doha for the World Championships.

It’s a dream come true to be racing against her heroes but her coach is trying to keep her feet on the ground.

“I have to make sure that she is not so enamoured with the attention from her idols,” warned Boldon.

The women’s 100m final is on day three in Doha

“I fully expect (Briana) to make the championship final this year... If her coach knows what she is doing,” Boldon added.

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