Who are Briana Williams' parents? Florida native chose to run for Jamaica at Olympics as tribute to mom

'I’m really representing Jamaica and also South Florida and I’m putting on a show for both places,' said Briana Williams, who grew up in Miramar, Florida


                            Who are Briana Williams' parents? Florida native chose to run for Jamaica at Olympics as tribute to mom
Briana Williams of Jamaica (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for IAAF)

Jamaican sprinter Briana Williams has gained quite a following after helping her 4x100m relay Olympics team qualify for the finals at the Tokyo 2020 Games. The Jamaican team of Williams, Natasha Morrison, Remona Burchell, and Shericka Jackson clocked a season's best at 42.15 seconds to get an automatic qualifying spot.

Team Jamaica's prospects at the women 4x100 meter final look rather bright after sprint double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were added to the team. The Jamaicans are seen as gold-medal favorites.

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Williams, 19, previously said she was glad to represent Jamaica in Track and Field during the Olympic Games. “I’m glad that I made the team and that I’m going to Tokyo," she told NBC 6 South Florida. “I’m really happy the hard work has paid off. The delay of the Olympics that was supposed to be happening last year, but now it’s happening this year. It gave me an extra year to get stronger, older, and faster." 

The promising athlete, who lives and trains in Miramar, realized she was fast when she started running around as an eight-year-old. “I was born in Coral Springs and grew up in Miramar and I’ve been living in Miramar for 19 years now and I love it and I don’t want to move," said Williams. “I’m really representing Jamaica and also South Florida and I’m putting on a show for both places. I grew up here and they all know me and I just love the support that I’ve been getting.”

Nominee Briana Williams arrives for the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 18, 2019, in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus)

Who are Briana Williams's parents?

Despite being born in the United States, Williams decided to run for Jamaica as a tribute to her mother Sharon Simpson's Caribbean heritage. According to her, track-and-field is almost like a religion in the country. “In 2017 I told my mom, I want to run for Jamaica. When she signed me up, I went to Carifta and got third and from then on, I loved running for Jamaica," Williams said. "I love the support and all the love that they’ve given me and I just feel welcome every time I go there. The track and field support is phenomenal and I love it."

Briana Williams of Jamaica in action in a heat of the women's 200m on day four of The IAAF World U20 Championships on July 13, 2018, in Tampere, Finland. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for IAAF)

“The decision to run for Jamaica as opposed to the USA was all up to Briana, she chose Jamaica over America,” her mother told Jamaica Observer in 2018. “She was always going to Jamaica for summer and Christmas vacations and also went to Champs, and the whole idea of being at Champs and seeing the excitement, she got caught up in the excitement as well."

According to reports, Briana Williams' father is an American named Steven Williams. While not much is known about him, his family moved from his native Philly to Jamaica to realize their daughter's dreams. “We lived in the US. Her dad was Philadelphia-born and raised, she trained in the US, and so my thought was always that she would compete for the USA," Simpson told The Observer. "But we came to Jamaica to watch Champs in 2012, and Briana fell in love instantly and wanted to run for Jamaica," she added.



 

 

It's worth noting that Williams has too many records to her name, one of the more notable ones being when she became the youngest athlete to win the women's 100 meters and 200 meters double at the World Under-20 Championships in 2018. The track star is known for her speed and hence was selected for the 4x100 meter relay in Tokyo.

That said, Williams also shares a close bond with her coach, Ato Boldon. “Over the years, we’ve grown together and I’ve learned so much from him and I’ve definitely gotten to a far place thanks to him," Williams told NBC 6 of her coach. 

The Jamaican star couldn't wait to soak it all in at her first Olympics ever. "I can’t wait to represent my country on the biggest stage and to hopefully get the gold medal in the 4x100 meter relay and the world record because we have a strong team and I’m looking forward to that," Williams said in the lead up to the events.

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