Ready for the battle - Williams: I’m young but I have the mind of a professional
No longer a junior athlete, Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams says she is ready to battle the sport's elites as she embarks on her first season as a professional.
Williams, widely recognised as one of the rising stars in the sport, solidified her leap to senior competition when she signed her first professional contract with global sporting brand Nike on January 17 in a multi-year agreement. The 17-year-old said that the deal has given her the motivation necessary to emulate the success of various athletes who have become part of the Nike family.
"It means a lot to be a part of Nike," Williams told STAR Sports. "So many successful athletes in many sports are a part of Nike and it gives me a push to be just like them or even better."
In addition to her deal, the reigning double Under-20 World champion is also now a part of sporting agency HSI International. She will be joining a list of high-calibre track and field athletes such as World 100m champion Christian Coleman and his American teammate, 400m hurdles World champion and record holder Dalilah Muhammad.
Williams believes that she will not be burdened with the weight of expectations that will be placed on her to continue the sprinting success of Jamaica's women. She says in spite of her age, she is mature enough to have the correct mindset to perform.
"To me it isn't pressure, I'm young but I have the mind of a professional, and I know others are expecting me to be at the top this year since I'm a fresh new pro," she said. "But I always remind myself to just go out there, have fun and do my best."
Williams, who turns 18 in March, began her season at the Clemson University Orange and Purple Invitational on January 11, where she finished second in the 60m in a new personal best of 7.57 seconds.
She hopes to make her senior debut at a major senior championships as she targets a place on the Jamaica team at the Olympic Games this July in Tokyo. She says that she is not worried about the increased scrutiny of her performances at the pro level but concentrating on the task at hand.
"Pressure is a normal part of the sport. My aim is to work extra hard, focus on my goals and everything will unfold as it should," she said.
Williams will compete in the 60m at the Queen's/Grace Jackson Invitational meet at the National Stadium on Saturday.