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berlin athletes back uka heroes

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Jeanette Kwakye
World Indoor 60m silver medalist backs Hero Williams

18 August 2009

World Championships 4x100m athlete Jeanette Kwakye believes sprint sensation Jodie Williams has the ability to be ‘absolutely fantastic’ after her double gold success at this year’s World Youth Championships.

Still only 15, Williams became the first Brit since Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in 2004 – and the first female ever - to claim a sprint double at the World Youth Championships in Italy last month.

Williams ran the two leading times in the world this year to claim 100m and 200m gold and despite being selected for the European Junior Championships as a result pulled out with a tight hamstring.

And Kwakye, who finished sixth in last year’s Olympic final and regularly trains with Williams in north London, insists UKA Hero Williams has all the attributes to become a star in the years to come.

“To win double gold at the World Youth Championships is an absolutely fantastic achievement and no one can take that away from her,” said Kwakye.

“I was never good at giving advice to others when I was young but I learnt from advice given to me and I have gone on to achieve what a lot of British female sprinters haven’t done as a senior.

“Even though I see Jodie almost every day I actually haven’t had the opportunity to speak to her yet. But whoever is guiding her it is very important that they realise although she is very quick now it is the nurturing more than anything else that will bring her through as a senior athlete.

“She could be absolutely fantastic and with that level of talent and hard work and guidance the sky really is the limit.”

Sarah Holt
Holt backed by World Championships athlete Derham


Only one other UKA Hero has climbed the podium on the international stage this season and that is Sarah Holt who claimed hammer bronze at the European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania.

Despite throwing just shy of her personal best in Kaunas the 22-year-old’s best effort of 62.55m was not only good enough for third but also good enough to catch the eye of British No.1 Zoe Derham.

Holt is currently ranked third in the senior British rankings less than three metres behind Derham and the Olympian believes she will have a fight on her hands to remain on top of the pile next year.

“Sarah is a fantastic thrower and she is definitely someone that I keep an eye on,” said Derham – who like Kwakye is in Berlin for the World Championships.

“I am not one to study the rankings too much but you have got to make sure you know what people are doing and I have been watching how she has been getting on this season.

“It was fantastic for her to get on the podium in Lithuania and that was a really fantastic achievement. It is great for British hammer throwing that she is coming through because often there are not that many people stepping up and she is a great prospect.

“She will definitely be pushing me but I am going to be working just as hard to make sure I stay at the top.”

Gateshead Harrier Niall Flannery came close to joining Williams and Holt as the cream of the UKA Hero crop only to see it all end in tears in the 400m hurdles at the European Junior Championships.

After blitzing his way to the final in Serbia – Flannery learnt the hard way the importance of peaking too early hitting the penultimate hurdle and going from first to fourth.

The 18-year-old’s European failure was the only black mark on an otherwise flawless season and former Gateshead Harrier Vicki Barr has urged Flannery to learn from his mistakes – and fast.

“I used to train with Niall when I was up north and he is coached by Jared Deacon who I used to work with and he is coming on really well,” said Barr.

“But you could see he had potential and this year he is really starting to live up to that potential and run really well.

“I think he is going to university this year but he has got to be careful where he goes.  In America they have a really good system but over here they in Britain they don’t.”

UKA Heroes project sponsored by Original Source is a successful initiative which offers financial support to talented young athletes who are working towards the 2012 and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.