Jodie Williams has been stopped in her tracks before. At the London Grand Prix meeting at Crystal Palace last August the burgeoning young sprint prodigy from Welwyn Garden City was introduced to Usain Bolt. "I just stood there in shock," she recalled of the encounter with her idol, the fastest human of all time. "I didn't know what to say. His coach told him what I had achieved and he just said, 'Keep it going'."
Williams has been doing just that. After 149 races, stretching back over five years, she has yet to be beaten in an outdoor race. Yesterday the 16-year-old schoolgirl added another global title to her burgeoning list of achievements. Running against girls three years ahead of her in seniority, Williams proved a class apart in the 100 metres final at the World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, prevailing in 11.40sec. With the 200m to come, she stands to emulate the sprint double she achieved at the World Youth Championships at Bressanone in Italy last summer.
Not that the Welwyn Garden Whizz-kid is taking her invincibility for granted. "I know the day I get beaten will come eventually," she said. "But my winning streak has given me great confidence. Coming here and getting a medal is brilliant."
But Williams' coach, Mike McFarlane, the former Commonwealth 200m champion, and her parents, Richard and Christine, both former county schools sprinters, are all determined to avoid the premature exposure to senior competition that has done for so many female British sprint prodigies in the past.
Williams is ranked fifth in Europe this summer at 200m and seventh at 100m but she will not be competing at the European Championships in Barcelona next week. It remains to be seen whether she will run in this year's London Grand Prix, at Crystal Palace on 13 and 14 August, but meeting director Ian Stewart said yesterday that there would be no invitation for Justin Gatlin, the former Olympic 100m champion and world record holder, whose drugs suspension ends tomorrow.
* In last night's Diamond League meeting in Monaco Tyson Gay continued his fine form by winning the men's 200m in 19.73sec. David Oliver's much hyped bid to break Dayron Robles' mark of 12.87sec in the 110m hurdles fell flat as the American ran poorly, winning in 13.01sec. Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100m in 10.82sec.