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Jodie Williams exorcises ghost of her old 17-year-old self

Jodie Williams bubbles with effervescence, and understandably so.

Jodie Williams' teenage promise faded but she is determined to shine at the Commonwealth Games
Jodie Williams' teenage promise faded but she is determined to shine at the Commonwealth Games

Fresh from lowering her personal best over 200 metres to 22.76 seconds, she is taking steps towards what the 20-year-old hopes will be a medal tilt at the Commonwealth Games. These are also strides away from the abyss which consumes so many adolescent talents who shine brightly and show so much promise, only to fade.

Four years ago, the potential for the sprinter from Welwyn Garden City seemed limitless, following a streak of 151 successive wins that encompassed two European junior titles and a rise to the top of the UK senior rankings. A place in the world indoor final was secured in the spring of 2012. Yet having found her way onto posters and promotions hyping up the Olympics, a hamstring tweak put the Games beyond her grasp. What followed seemed just one more case study in asking too much, too soon.

"The last couple of years have been a real struggle for me," she reveals. "Going from being a really promising junior and then getting injured and having to sit on the sidelines was very tough. Battling with injury after injury was just really frustrating so I'm really pleased with how the season's gone so far. It's just about slowly building up my confidence again. Physically I'm there. I've just got to let my mind catch up."

Physically, she had healed. Her body had matured. "But my mind was too scared to run because I was frightened of the same injury happening again," she admits. Sprinting is a confidence trick and Williams' magic, it seemed, had disappeared. "It's never a nice feeling," she adds, "when you know your 17-year-old self would have beaten you in a race but it was all about being patient. Patience is not my forte but I'm getting there slowly."

She has headed to the Bahamas where the world relay championships begin tomorrow with renewed confidence. The GB&NI team also features Glasgow contenders Asha Philip and Anyika Onuora, part of a wave of sprint talent that also includes the absent Dina Asher-Smith.

When Hampden's Games arrive, the group expects to make the same waves as the UK's leading men.

"I think we're slowly beginning to prove that we can be among the top female as well as male sprinters in the world," Williams asserts. "If we all progress together and we have a bit of rivalry on the track, it could produce some great times."

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