Injury has delayed the start of the European and Commonwealth medallist’s season but she’s looking forward to getting back on track in Manchester
It might not be quite The Bahamas, but Jodie Williams is looking forward to her trip to Manchester next weekend to step back on to the track and race a later than expected season opener at the Great CityGames.
The European 200m silver medallist had been due to form part of the Great Britain team for the IAAF World Relays in Nassau this weekend but a minor hamstring tear sustained while training in Florida put paid to that. Her withdrawal was more a precaution than anything, she explains. She didn’t want to risk letting the team down.
“Unfortunately I got a minor hamstring tear about two weeks ago which has fully recovered now but we just thought it was going to be too much of a risk,” says the 21-year-old. “If anything did happen when I was out there then I could have let the whole team team down and we didn’t want that to happen so I pulled out, more as a precaution really. But it will be fine for next week.”
Having initially been due to open her season while in America and then in The Bahamas, Williams will now use her outing over 150m on a temporary track on Deansgate next Saturday to test where she’s at ahead of a summer in which she hopes to build on her successes of 2014. Last year saw her claim her first senior major medals, with 200m silvers at both the European Championships in Zurich and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as well as a Commonwealth 4x100m relay bronze and her first senior gold as part of the record-breaking GB sprint relay team in Switzerland.
“I think this is the worst bit for us, the first race is always the most nerve-racking,” she says. “You know roughly what kind of shape you’re going to be in from your training but sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. That first race is the one to tell you where you are and what you need to work on. It’s always scary, but exciting at the same time.
“Because of this minor injury I’m not putting too much pressure on myself,” she adds. “I just want to go out there and hopefully race well.”
“That first race is the one to tell you where you are and what you need to work on. It’s always scary, but exciting at the same time”
The race had been billed as a head-to-head between Williams and the ‘Flying Dutchwoman’ Dafne Schippers, who did the sprint double in Zurich when claiming 200m gold ahead of Williams as well as taking the 100m title. Also among those lining up is European indoor 60m silver medallist Dina Asher-Smith.
“I always prefer racing such a good field,” she says. “It puts that little bit more pressure on you but it’s always more exciting to push yourself against the best.”
Racing 150m gives Williams a rare opportunity to split the difference between the two events she has previously doubled up in. The former junior prodigy won 100m and 200m world youth titles, double world junior medals and then double European junior titles as part of an under-20 career that saw her rack up a remarkable 151-race winning streak, but having concentrated mainly on the 200m last year she’s happy to again focus her attention on a single event for the time being.
“For now I think I’m putting my doubling up days behind me,” she says. “That’s not to say they’re not going to come back but I think for now I’ll be focusing on the one event.
“The 200m became more my focus last year and I think that is again going to happen this year. I am much more comfortable running the 200m. But I will still be running 100s and you may see the odd 400m in there as well again.”
After experiencing such success as a junior, her transition to the senior stage wasn’t easy as a bad hamstring injury during the summer of 2012 ruined her Olympic ambitions. After a lot of hard work and determination she bounced back, but is it difficult to keep calm now when she gets injured and not think back to those dark days?
“Had it been something more serious then I probably would have gone into panic mode but these things happen all the time,” Williams explains when talking about her recent hamstring issue. “I think it’s just part and parcel of the sport really.
“I think it’s about having patience, that’s what I’ve learnt,” she adds on having to take time out through injury. “It is mentally tough.”
“I am much more comfortable running the 200m. But I will still be running 100s and you may see the odd 400m in there as well again”
Right now Williams is concentrating on putting her winter’s work into practice and with a couple of big years ahead is keen to pick up from where she left off last summer. While pleased to have made an impact in Zurich and Glasgow in 2014, the Christine Bowmaker-coached athlete knows there are bigger challenges ahead.
“They were my first senior medals but they were Commonwealth and Europeans and I think the step up from there to Worlds and then again to the Olympics is massive,” she explains. “I think that’s something me and my coach really do appreciate. I would like to progress on from those medals, trying to make finals at Worlds and Olympics now, and then hopefully in the years after those couple that are coming up I can start challenging for medals.”
British sprinting is in a good place right now and Williams is delighted to be a part of it. While she admits she’s “gutted” to not be with her team-mates in Nassau this weekend she’s still looking forward to following the action.
“Even though I’m not there I still want them to do well,” says Williams, who was due to form part of the 4x100m squad. “I still feel like I’m part of the team.
“The girls have been looking great in training. Obviously it’s a team that has run well together before. I think we’re in for a good performance. It would be great if they could get a top three finish which I definitely think they’re capable of.”
» The Great CityGames Manchester will be held on Saturday May 9 in Manchester city centre and will be shown live on BBC One and BBC One HD from 13:00 – 15:00. The event is part of a weekend-long celebration of sport in the city which includes Europe’s biggest 10km event, the Morrisons Great Manchester Run, on Sunday May 10