Full circle for GB sprinter Jodie Williams as she goes back to school
PUBLISHED: 16:48 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:48 19 February 2015
Five-and-a-half years ago I visited Queenswood School to interview a shy, teenage girl from Welwyn Garden City about to embark on her first athletics competition oversees.
Earlier this month I headed back to school to catch up with that young lady.
She was not studying there, but instead was there to show some youngsters her Commonwealth Games and European Championships silver medals, to lead coaching sessions and to run a question and answer session with the Year 2 pupils of Alban City School in St Albans.
Since that day in July 2009 when GB international Jodie Williams told me about how nervous she was ahead of the IAAF World Youth Championships in Italy, she would go on to win 100m and 200m gold, Williams, now 21, has already felt the incredible highs and lows of being a leading international sportswoman.
Before the transition to the senior stage, Williams added World Junior Championship 100m gold, 200m silver and European Junior Championships 100m and 200m gold to her list of honours.
An injury ravaged couple of years saw her then miss out on the chance of competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
However, 2014 saw the Herts Phoenix star finally shine brightly at a senior level winning 200m silver and 4x100m relay bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and 200m silver and 4x100m relay gold at the European Championships in Zurich.
After what I described as a deserved year of success, she said: “I don’t know if it was deserved, but I worked really hard.
“Obviously injuries are awful, I spent almost two years out really trying to get back to where I was, but in a way it was a blessing in disguise as I could strip everything back, go back to basics and just really rebuild myself as a stronger and better athlete.”
A lifetime best of 22.46 seconds in the European Championships 200m final, earning silver, was proof of the success of the back to basics approach.
This year is a World Championships year and, fingers crossed, we will see even faster times from the WGC girl who had a 151 race winning streak in her younger days.
“You saw a bit of it last year, but I think we are going to see even more of it this year so hopefully it will be a better year,” she said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have made a World Championships team before. I didn’t perform anywhere near as well as I wish I had. I wasn’t in shape at the time, but I think even that experience will stand me in good stead.
“The Europeans and Commonwealths was a brilliant introduction year and hopefully this will be the same against the people I’ve raced before so hopefully things will go well.”
Just before she starts a second coaching session in the school gym, considering the setting, I asked who inspired her.
She replied: “Allyson Felix is the person I looked up to.
“I don’t remember anyone coming into our school, I wish someone had because that would have been absolutely amazing.”
Felix is now one of Williams’ rivals on the world circuit, looking at the little ones in the gym I wondered could Williams’ visit inspire one of them to one day share the track with her?
Jodie Williams appeared at the Alban City School as part of the British Athletes Commission’s launch of the online service; Athletes Direct www.athletesdirect.org. This service links schools, colleges and businesses with their elite athlete members to create meaningful and memorable events.
Visit www.athletesdirect.org to find out more.