Williams finally loses... after 151 races
It was as inevitable as death, taxes and the endless loop of Frasier repeats. For five years and 151 races, Jodie Williams had been unbeatable, tearing up age-group records, pocketing a sprint double at the World Youth Championships last summer, and taking the world junior 100m title in her stride in midweek.
Then, when it came to the 200m final at the World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, in the early hours of yesterday, the young flier from the Herts Phoenix Athletics Club finally became acquainted with a phenomenon called defeat.
Given the wonderful first name of the leading American in the field, it was perhaps inevitable that Stormy Kendrick should storm to victory, claiming the gold medal in 22.99sec. Williams, feeling the toll of a sixth race in four days, did well to drag her weary body from fourth to second in the home straight, taking silver in 23.19. "I'll be happy later on," she said, "but at the moment there's still great shock at finishing second and losing my unbeaten run."
The disappointment was natural. Williams still leads the world junior rankings for 200m this year, with a time of 22.79 – a stunning achievement for a 16-year-old schoolgirl, and one who has been ploughing through her GCSEs. Williams is in her first year as a junior athlete. She will still be a junior when the 2012 Olympics come around.
"Jodie's a really bright spark for the future," Jessica Ennis said. "It was an amazing performance from her in the 100m at the world juniors. She'll be around for a long time, which is a really good thing for British athletics."
As Williams enjoys a well-earned break, it is Ennis who will be carrying the burden of British expectation into the European Championships, which open in Barcelona on Tuesday – and into the countdown to the London Olympics, which start two years from Tuesday. Having recovered from the triple ankle fracture which shattered her Beijing Olympic hopes two years ago to win the World Champ-ionship heptathlon title in Berlin last summer and the world indoor pentathlon crown in Doha in March, the Sheffield athlete has established herself as the global leader in multi-events, and as Britain's leading hope for gold both in the Catalan capital this week and on home ground in 2012.
Ennis has not lost a multi-events competition she has completed since coming fourth in the heptathlon at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. It is not entirely inevitable that the 24-year-old will become reacquainted with defeat some day. Carolina Kluft went through her entire senior heptathlon career unbeaten, before retiring from multi-events after her third world title in Osaka and concentrating on the long jump. The Swede failed to make the qualifying standard in that event for Barcelona but has been picked as a wild card by her national team selectors.
From Ennis, the British team captain in the Catalan capital, the minimum expectation is a win. As she spoke from the Aviva British team camp in Portugal on Friday, the possibility that she might lose was never broached.
"It's something I'm used to now," she said of the pressure of expectation. "I was ranked number one in the world going into the World Championships last year and everybody expected me to get the gold medal... I'm not going to let it bother me."
Latest in Sport
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Match reports from every Premier League game: Heartbreak for Tottenham as Arsenal clinch fourth place
Arsène Wenger: 'We need stability and to strengthen in the summer'
Rafael Nadal is the Master again in Rome – like a Ferrari to Roger Federer's Fiat
Sam Wallace: The second coming of Mourinho will be a reunion that can only end in tears
James Lawton: For all Arsenal's dreams and prettiness there must be nagging sense of futility
- 1 Asteroid nine times the size of the QE2 liner to sail pass Earth
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 British business: We need to stay in the EU - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 4 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...