SO2 - March 22

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SO2 - March 22

Sunday, March 22, 2020

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First & Foremost

Island Origins magazine snagged the beautiful American-born Jamaican female sprinter Briana Williams for its Spring 2020 “Strength” issue. Williams adds the female touch in a shared cover story with another young rising star from the Caribbean, Bahamian Jazz Chisholm, the Miami Marlins' new shortstop.

The magazine is published by Jamaican Calibe Thompson, who is also the executive producer of national Caribbean cooking and travel show Taste the Islands, and professional Jamaican photographer and author of Pieces of Jamaica David I Muir. The vibrant spread came alive with expert styling from Jamaican couture clothing designer Tanya Marie.

Feature courtesy of Island Originsmagazine...

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing became a landmark moment in track and field when fans around the world cheered the record-breaking performances of Jamaican titans like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. But for a little Jamaican-American girl glued to the TV screen in south Florida, that summer marked the beginning of a life-long love affair with the sport. Now 17 years old, track star Briana Williams is following in the footsteps of her Olympic idols, running for Jamaica and blazing a path on the world stage with records of her own.

The track wunderkind has risen to the top of her age bracket as the Jamaican national under-20 record holder in the 100 and 200 metres, with gold medals from the World Under-20 and Pan American Under-20 Championships. She also won back-to-back Austin Sealy MVP Awards at the CARIFTA Games — a feat previously accomplished by her idol, Usain Bolt. Her breakout year was 2019, and she was ranked as the sixth fastest woman of the year, according to Track & Field News. And 2020 only promises to be brighter, as she became pro with a multi-year Nike sponsorship. “For my dreams to come alive at my young age is a blessing for me,” says Williams.

This sparkling success has been the product of nearly a decade of work. She started training as an eight-year-old at Miramar Optimist Track Club in Miramar, Florida, and at age 12, began running under the tutelage of Trinidad-born Olympian and NBC sports analyst Ato Boldon.

“She's fearless,” shares Boldon about Williams, who stands out from the pack, “because of her immense poise. There's always some new prodigy coming along, but when they get exposed to the pressure at a very high level, most of them cannot handle it. But in Briana's case, since she was 16, she's been running against Olympic champions and excelling.”

Among her impressive accomplishments, however, it's the opportunity to run for the black, green and gold that makes her most proud. Growing up, she maintained close ties to her mother Sharon's homeland, visiting Jamaica every year. At age nine, a special gift—a uniform worn by the very same athletes she idolised at the Beijing Olympics—sparked fledgling dreams of joining Team Jamaica. “I remember loving so much how it looked,” says Williams. “It just looked so right.”

But it was a trip to Kingston to see the famed high school track and field event, the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys' and Girls' Championships, that sealed the deal. “I wanted to be just like them,” she recalls about watching her idols compete. “I loved how much Jamaica loves track and respects their athletes.”

On her personal journey, there have been hurdles and heartbreaks along the way, including injuries like the hamstring strain that benched her from training and competition for months. The hardest adversity to overcome, though, was the tragic loss of her father to cancer when she was just six. “It has been difficult, and there have been hard times when you would need your father around,” confesses Williams. “I'm so sad he never got to see me run, but I hope he's proud of me.”

Pressing through her challenges has made her particularly close with her mother, Sharon. “We got through it together,” says Williams. “And it's been really great to have her by my side. For all of my events, she's been there. She's always been very supportive of me.”

“It's so easy to root for Briana when you realise what she had to overcome,” notes Boldon. “And she's a real tribute to how Sharon has raised her as a single mother.”

As she gears up for her bold march to the Olympics, she confesses to still watching tapes of her idols in action. Only now, she has become an inspiration for other young girls glued to their TV screens, dreaming of gold.

“I'm happy that girls look up to me,” said Briana. Wise beyond her years, she also had some special words of advice for those seeking to follow in her footsteps. “For all the girls out there, you have to work hard, and sometimes you may have to make sacrifices too. There will be tough times, but once you believe in yourself and know that you can do it, you will reach your goals.”

And...

It's all about #SafetyFirst as celebrities take precautions as they continue to jet-set despite the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has swept the world, and can we just say, we're here for it!

As soon as Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered schools closed for 14 days, dancehall artiste Grace “Spice” Hamilton bundled up her little ones and headed to Atlanta — in full corona gear, of course! The trio ran into Jamaican star Jada Kingdom while travelling. Days before, the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star brought airport glam to the next level at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in a Versace Baroque bathrobe, black latex gloves and black mask.

Then

We would be remiss if we failed to mention Chronixx's feature in Vanity Fair highlighting his second album Dela Splash. In the story, written by staff writer Dan Adler, the reggae star described the upcoming release. “The main word I would use is dark,” he said. “It's so much darker than anything else I've ever done.” The album's name is an ode to the discontinued annual concert in Spanish Town's De La Vega City, where he and his musician father Chronicle are from.

Next

Grammy award-winning artiste Orville “Shaggy” Burrell wrapped his United Kingdom/Ireland tour with a note that he would be lying low for a bit.

Plus

The Jamaican fashion world woke up to some exciting news last week, when it was announced that Greta Constantine's Jamaican-Canadian design duo of Stephen Wong and Kirk Pickersgill were among the nominees for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) Womenswear Designer of the Year award. Rounding out the category were Beaufille, Eliza Faulkner, Judith & Charles, and UNTTLD. The awards are scheduled to take place in a glitzy gala event on May 29, 2020 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

Etc

Guess who made Elle Magazine's 25 Jewellery Brands To Bookmark On Instagram list? Matthew “Mateo” Harris! The Montego Bay-raised self-taught jewellery designer's sculptural pieces have secured him a spot on the coveted line-up. Mateo New York is sold in some of the best retailers worldwide, including Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Sak's Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales.

Finally

It seems as though the next big adventure for British rapper Tyrone Lindo, better known by his stage name “Big Narstie” is in Jamaica. The rapper returned to the land of wood and water, to film his latest episode of the Big Narstie Big Adventure show after his sojourn to the island as a teen. While here he “cooled it dung” with dancehall artiste Spice, attempted a duet with breakout star Jada Kingdom and kicked it with American model and actor Tyson Beckford.


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