Jamaican sprinter – Briana Williams ran a massive personal best at the New Balance Grand Prix on Staten Island, New York on Sunday but her coach believes she can go even faster once she breaks out of her ‘starting slump’.
The 19-year-old Olympic gold medalist opened her season equaling her previous lifetime best of 7.18 at the Purple Tiger meet in Louisiana on January 14 but after promising to go even faster at the Millrose Games, two weeks later, she finished a disappointing fourth in 7.22.
To rub salt into her emotional wound, Williams, the youngest ever Jamaican Olympic gold medalist was beaten by 16-year-old Shawnti Jackson, who equalled the Jamaican’s lifetime best of 7.18, which for her was a personal best as well as an American high school record.
Fast-forward to Sunday and the preliminary heats of the 60m dash where Williams exploded to a brand new personal best of 7.09, which at the time, was the second-fastest time in the world this year. It was the fastest time going into the final that was won by Mikiah Brisco, who caught Williams late in the race before edging in front to record a new world lead of 7.07.
Williams ran her second-fastest time ever, 7.11, for second place.
Her times of 7.09 and 7.11 makes her the fastest Jamaican in the world this year, 0.05 faster than Kemba Nelson’s 7.16 set a week ago and 0.14 faster than Kevona Davis’ 7.25.
“My coach and I knew this was coming. It was just for me to have the patience and the right race,” said Williams after her races on Sunday.
“I was happy with my personal best in the preliminaries and to follow that up with 7.11 in the final. There are still things to work on as you can see from the final, but I’m happy with my finish today.”
Among the things she has to work on is getting back the electric start that had defined her career to date as one of the best in the world but which has seemingly deserted her recently.
Williams’ coach, Ato Boldon, believes Williams is primed to go faster but her start has become an issue of concern.
“This is just her third race of the season, her rhythm is better and she is out of the weight room. We still have things to figure out. She is still not starting well,” he said, suggesting that he believes it’s all in her head.
“She is thinking about it. It’s a starting slump.”
Boldon said he would rate her performances on Sunday as an eight-out-ten, believing that once she gets back to instinctively starting well, she will go faster; seven-zero-low.