Olympic spotlight won’t daunt me, insists sprint hope Williams

TEENAGE sprint sensation Jodie Williams insists she’s not in the least bit daunted at being billed as the next golden girl of British track and field.

The 17-year-old, privately funded by millionaire Barrie Wells and his Sports Foundation which has also aided the career of former world champion Jessica Ennis, already has a clutch of junior 100m and 200m titles under her belt and this year made the successful transition to competing at senior level.

In July the precocious Williams, who went 152 races undefeated as a junior, clocked times that were inside the Olympic qualifying standard and has every intention of competing at next summer’s London Games, at ease with the fact she’ll be under intense scrutiny.

“It’s strange to think how much people have taken an interest with me,” she tells City A.M. while busily signing autographs. “I suppose it’s better people want bits and bobs with my name on it than not.

“I like being known and I guess that will increase when the Olympics comes around. That’s something that I think about all the time and am definitely focused on.

“It’s going to be such an amazing thing having something as massive as the Olympics in my home town. It’s inspirational and I’m ready to cope with that type of pressure.”

British track greats have already earmarked Williams for superstardom, including former Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, who believes the Welwyn Garden City-born athlete is blessed with not only exceptional natural talent, but is equally fortunate to possess a wise head on such young shoulders.

He told City A.M: “I love her mentality. I can see from being around her that she’s a fast learner and she listens to the advice she’s been given. If she keeps the right people around her then we’ve got a really special talent on our hands.”

Should Williams compete at the Olympics she will do so with no experience of performing at a senior global event after she opted not to go to August’s World Championships in Daegu, against the wishes of the head coach of UK Athletics Charles van Commenee – a decision she still stands by.

She said: “It just didn’t quite feel it was the right time for me and I didn’t think I’d have a good experience. It was a long way away and I’d never travelled anywhere like that before.

“It sounds weird but I’d have been going away with people who I didn’t know and that does impact you. There would be nothing familiar there even though I know a few of the girls. But it was my decision and one I was comfortable with.”

Darren Campbell and Jodie Williams were on the blocks at the Scoop at More London helping Powerade launch a promotion to win tickets to the London 2012 Olympics 100m Finals. Find out more at poweradegb.com