British sprinter Jodie Williams ends seven-year wait for major medal 

Exactly a decade ago to the very day, Jodie Williams had the world at her feet. Nicknamed “Moneylegs” after an astonishing 151-race, five-year junior unbeaten streak, she finished fourth on her senior international debut as a 17-year-old over 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships. The future seemed to be paved with gold.

Yet by Saturday night, it had been seven long years and hundreds of sleepless nights since she last stood on an individual podium. Twice she came close to quitting the sport entirely. Finally, the drought is over.

Stepping up in distance to the 400m for the first time, the British team captain claimed a European indoor bronze before proclaiming she had her “mojo back”. Her time of 51.73sec was all the more impressive given she was drawn in the tightest inside lane and, while she had no answer to Netherlands’ rampant winner Femke Bol, it heralded a remarkable second coming after years spent battling injuries and attempting to live up to the reputation she built as a youngster.

Williams was drawn on the tightest inside lane


Williams was drawn on the tightest inside lane


Credit: REUTERS

“I’m just really glad I’ve proved to myself I can get on podiums again,” she said. “This champs was about overcoming those mental barriers. This is huge. It’s taught me how to fight again.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs and a while since I’ve been on a podium. It has been full of near-misses and if-onlys, so I am really glad I have proved myself.

“I knew I had it in me. This sport is such a mental battle. I have my mojo back.”

There was drama during and after an incredibly messy women’s 1,500m final, with Holly Archer eventually being awarded a silver medal.

Making her international track debut, Archer, who works full-time for a pharmaceutical company, found herself stuck in the middle of a painfully slow-moving pack as a void of willing leaders caused the race to be run at a snail’s pace.

Like many of her rivals, she was forced to hustle and bustle her way into space before finishing fast to cross the line second in 4min 19.91sec behind Belgian winner Elise Vanderelst. Her joy was short-lived though, when she was hastily disqualified for pushing during the race but an appeal from the British team proved successful and she was reinstated back into silver-medal position.

“That was the longest wait ever,” she said. “I feel absolutely delighted. To come so close and then get it taken away, I’ve been on a rollercoaster, but I’m really happy to finally get that silver. It was a scrappy race, but I feel like I raced it the best that I could given the circumstances. I don’t think I could have done anything better.“

Emotions were more straightforward for Holly Bradshaw, who had been favourite to prove herself a likely Olympic medal candidate by winning pole-vault gold, but faltered when it mattered and had to make do with bronze.

Unbeaten in three competitions in which she had looked close to her best this winter, Bradshaw was expected to take advantage of a number of notable absentees and shake off her tag as something of a nearly-women of international pole vaulting.

Having sat patiently and watched the entire field attempt heights far beneath her level, Bradshaw did not even enter the final until it had been going for 50 minutes, but then unexpectedly failed to clear 4.70m on her three attempts. That left her sharing bronze as Switzerland’s Angelica Moser won gold.

“I’m disappointed,” said Bradshaw. “To come here and do my lowest all season, it’s not what you expect.

“Pole vault is so frustrating, the margins are tiny. I should be coming here and delivering a better performance than that.

“There are so many things I’ve learnt. Coming in here as the favourite was a very different experience. I’ve felt in incredible shape and, although I couldn’t deliver it, the Olympics is where it’s at. I want to win a medal there and I’m in a good place to do it.”

With Britain having so far won just one gold at these championships, hopes are high for a possible 800m double on Sunday courtesy of Keely Hodgkinson and Jamie Webb.

Hodgkinson, who last month became the first British woman to break a world under-20 record for 36 years, was a hugely impressive winner of her semi-final, dominating with a confidence that belied the fact she only celebrated her 19th birthday on Wednesday.

Her winning time of 2min 3.11sec meant she was the fastest qualifier for the final, yet she looked in total ease running a time four seconds slower than her personal best.

Isabelle Boffey and Ellie Baker will join Hodgkinson in the final, while Webb also has his sights set on upgrading the silver he won two years ago to gold a fortnight after posting the second fastest time in British history.

Andrew Pozzi qualified fastest from the men’s 60m hurdles heats, while sisters Tiffany Porter and Cindy Sember are both aiming for the podium in the women’s equivalent.

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