Briana Williams Looking Past Indoor And Ahead To Worlds

* Northeast (FL) High School junior Briana Williams won double-gold at World Juniors in July/IAAF

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Briana William's 2018 was unquestionably special. 

The high school sophomore grabbed a World Age Group best for 15-year-olds at 100 meters, won three sprints titles at the CARIFTA Games, earned a state win in Florida for Oakland Park Northeast High School in the 100m and earned wins at the adidas Boost Boston Games and the Great Southwest Classic. 

But her prized accomplished came in July, when the Jamaican international became the youngest athlete in the history of the IAAF U20 Championships to claim double gold when she swept the 100m and 200m titles in Tampere, Finland. That included a career best 22.50 second effort in the 200m finals. 

"Track is about competition first, times are secondary," Williams' coach, Ato Boldon, recently told Todd Grasley of TrackAlerts.com, of those two wins.

That success ultimately landed Williams a nomination into an exclusive club of athletes for the Laureus World Sports Awards, which will be held on Feb. 18 in Monaco, France. Few track and field athletes of have ever been nominated for the honor. 

All those accomplishments were indicators of the vision most see around Williams: That she could be the future of sprinting not just in her chosen country--Williams was born in the US, but has chosen to run for the black, green and gold of Jamaica--but at the international level, too. 

And yet, Boldon has been quick to remind everyone around her that success takes time, too. All opportunities are not the best opportunities.

So her wins did another thing: It put into focus the type of strategy that is required in getting the very best out of young talent, with that idea shaping what Williams will need to lean into as she looks ahead in 2019. 

As a high school junior who turns 17 in March, Williams is still young. She twice hit under 11.2 in the 100m and five times under 11.3 a year ago. She ran seven times under 23.4 in the 200m. 

Many believe Williams is capable of breaking the national record of 10.98 seconds in the 100m, last set by Candace Hall in 2015, and 22.11 seconds in the 200m, which was broken by Allyson Felix in Mexico City in 2003. 

But Boldon believes she won't get there if she races too much. 

While the New York Road Runners' Millrose Games sent out an invitation to the 16-year-old to compete in February, a school conflict--Williams is taking the ACT--will prevent the Florida prep from competing indoors for the first time since 2016. 

Instead, Boldon's and William's goals are much broader in 2019: 

In September, Williams will seek to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Doha for Jamaica. 

Boldon told Track and Field News in January that Williams will operate under a very steadfast schedule: 10 finals over the course of the year in each 100 meter and 200 meter races. 

That plan will include high school competition for Oakland Park (FL) Northeast High School as it often has over the last two years. Williams will likely open her outdoor season in February before running in qualifying meets for the CARIFTA Games and then the Bob Hayes Invitational in March. 

As Williams desires for more competition at altitude, Boldon is also eyeing up a meet held by the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association in Mexico City. 

Boldon said the pair will plan for venues where Williams can consistently go after records and race well under pressure. 

"She went from a consistent 11.5 her freshman year, to a consistent 11.2 last year," Boldon told Grasley for TrackAlerts.com. "This year has to be a consistent 11.1/11.0 100m and sub 23 for 200m year, otherwise she's just going to make up numbers in Doha. She knows that."

With the Tokyo Olympics also in the picture for 2020, Boldon told MileSplit this past November that Williams will maintain a schedule that will keep her appropriately raced for a chance at qualification for that cycle. 

By then, 2019's successes may have already run past 2018's. 


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