Thursday 21 February, 2019

Briana Williams, Damion Thomas strike gold at World U20 Championship

US-based Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams wins the women's 100m final on day 3 of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Thursday.

US-based Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams wins the women's 100m final on day 3 of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Thursday.

Jamaica secured two gold and a silver on day three of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Thursday.

Two of the day's three medals came in the men's 110-metre hurdles as Damion Thomas and Orlando Bennett ensured a one-two finish for Jamaica, while US-based Briana Williams took the gold medal in the women's 100 metres.

The race for the women's 100m title was effectively all over in the first few strides.

Williams, who turned 16 just a few months ago, shot out of the blocks to steal a march on world U20 leader Twanisha Terry of the USA. Terry, who had clocked a championship record of 11.03 (0.4m/s) to win her semifinal, couldn’t make up the ground on Williams as her younger rival held on to victory in 11.16.

Despite being the youngest 100m entrant of the entire championships, Williams was a model of poise and composure in the final. It was only when she crossed the line that her face lit up with emotion, her eyes and mouth wide open in pure disbelief.

Terry was gaining on Williams with every stride but the US U20 champion didn’t look anywhere near as controlled as she did throughout the rounds and ultimately had to settle for silver in 11.19.

Britain’s Kristal Awuah, who had been the third-fastest in the heats and semifinals, lived up to expectations to take the bronze medal in 11.37, 0.04 ahead of Germany’s Keshia Kwadwo.

“It feels amazing to win this race,” said Williams. “I’ve been training for this race all season long.”

Williams is coached by 1997 world 200m champion Ato Boldon, who himself was a world U20 champion back in 1992, winning both the 100m and 200m.

“We knew that she’d most likely be in the lead at 50 metres,” he said. “I told her before the race that if she panics, then the others will go past her, but if she holds her form, she can win it.”

Williams will have two more chances to add to her medal collection as she is entered for the 200m and 4x100m. Terry is also entered for the latter, setting up an exciting rematch.

The form guide pointed to a Jamaican one-two in the 110m hurdles and that pre-championships premonition played out.

Thomas crashed out at the semifinal stage in Bydgoszcz two years ago but he made amends not only in his final race of the season but also in his final race over the U20 99cm barriers. The gold medal was the crowning moment of a long competition season for the Jamaican, which also included a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships where he was running for Louisiana State University.

Thomas and his teammate Bennett had already separated themselves from the field by the first hurdle which saw the demise of Spain’s Enrique Llopis but the outcome was decidedly more clear-cut than it was at the Jamaican U20 Championships in Kingston when just 0.01 separated the two protagonists.

On that day, Thomas equalled Wilhem Belocian's world U20 record with 12.99 but here on a decidedly cooler and cloudier evening in Tampere, a winning time of 13.14 sufficed for the title ahead of Bennett in 13.33.

"I can't explain how I feel, I came here to win and I'm feeling so blessed," said Thomas who won Jamaica’s first ever title in the 110m hurdles at the World U20 Championships. "It means a lot to me to share the podium with a teammate. I can't remember the race very well, just crossing the finish-line. I'm done with my season now so I'm just going to relax."

Bennett indeed made it a Jamaican one-two in the final. “I hope to become the Olympic champion one day. I’m just so happy to make my coach, my family and my country proud tonight,” he said, not lacking confidence in his abilities.

The three medals improved Jamaica's tally to four following Wayne Pinnock's bronze in the men's long jump on Wednesday.

That bronze medal for Pinnock represents Jamaica's first ever long jump medal at the championships.

Earlier, Stacy-Ann Williams could only managed a sixth-place finish in the women's 400 metres in 53.23.

India’s Hima Das sealed her nation’s first ever medal in the 400m, sling-shotting to the lead down the home straight and coming home a clear winner in 51.46.

It made her the first Indian woman to win a global title of any kind and the first Indian, male or female, to win a global track title.

Romania’s Andrea Miklos grabbed silver with a PB of 52.07. Taylor Manson claimed bronze for USA with a strong run of 52.28, while  Australia’s Ella Connolly was run out of the medals in fourth with 52.82.

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