Briana Williams knocks sprint double out of the park

By IAAF July 14, 2018
Briana Williams rounds the bend in the 200 metres at the World Under 20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on her way to her second gold medal and a championship record. Briana Williams rounds the bend in the 200 metres at the World Under 20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on her way to her second gold medal and a championship record.

Jamaica's Briana Williams stormed to victory in the 200m to collect her second sprint gold in less than 48 hours to sensationally cap her rise on the international stage. 

Just three months and a few days past her 16th birthday, Williams arrived in Tampere as the youngest entrant, but will likely leave as its most memorable star. That was made clear with her blistering 22.50 run here, a championships record which planted her at the No. 11 spot on the all-time U20 200m list.

But stats are one thing - the maturity she displayed is clearly another. That's a combination that proved lethal to all challengers in Tampere this week.

At the start of the 100m final, she was composed and poised. She added confidence to the mix at the start of the half lap today, brilliantly illustrated as the field rounded the bend. Favourite Lauren Rain Williams of the US led at that point, seemingly positioned to finally take a gold medal that has so far eluded the United States at these championships. Again, the USA, by far the winningest nation in the history of the World U20 Championships, would be denied.

The Jamaican had a narrow but clear lead off the turn, and stretched it with each passing stride. Running alone, she stopped the clock in 22.50, another massive PB and more than half a second ahead of her US rival, who clocked 23.09. The 0.59 winning margin was the second biggest ever.

"I was a bit tired and nervous before the race," said Williams, who arrived in Tampere with a 23.11 lifetime best, set when winning her age group at the Carifta Games in early April. Now, her ambitions are clearly expanding.

"In the future, I want to be the youngest Olympic medalist in Tokyo 2020, but there are a lot of chances to succeed before then as well."

Two days ago, Williams became the youngest to win the 100m crown which today makes her the youngest to claim the 100/200m title. That's notable enough in and of itself, but such an achievement is rare, too. Williams is just the fourth to claim the dash double in the championships' 17 editions, following Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (2000), Bulgaria's Tezdzhan Naimova (2006) and Bahamian Anthonique Strachan (2012).

Lauren Rain Williams, a semi-finalist at the NCAA championships last month, had mixed emotions about her runner-up finish.

"I'm really excited about the silver but also a bit disappointed to not get the gold," the 18-year-old said. "It wasn't my best competition this season and not my best time, but it was a big surprise to me."

A closest battle was the one for third, with Martyna Kotwila of Poland taking bronze in 23.21, a national U20 record for Poland, over authorised neutral athlete Polina Miller, who clocked 23.32.

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