Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sports - BY ALEX SPINK

HIK­ING amid the cac­tuses, lizards and red rock of Ari­zona, Jodie Wil­liams has not a care in the world.

The days of stress and strain that led her to leave Bri­tain are be­hind her. She is back run­ning like her old self.

Wil­liams (left) used to be un­beat­able. She went 151 races with­out de­feat, be­came world cham­pion at youth and ju­nior lev­els and was nick­named ‘Moneylegs’. Then came eight years in which the pres­sure she put on her­self and the ex­pec­ta­tions of the watch­ing world all be­came too much.

Next Satur­day the 25-year-old re­turns to Eng­land to com­pete in the Lon­don An­niver­sary Games at the Olympic Sta­dium. She does so with a smile on her face and a new per­sonal best in her pocket. In May, fi­nally, she ran a 100 me­tres faster than she had when she was 17.

“I had many years of strug­gles, it felt like mul­ti­ple rock bot­toms,” Wil­liams ad­mit­ted, as she pre­pares to take on Kata­rina John­sonThomp­son and Olympic cham­pion Elaine Thompson over 200m. “So when I ran my first PB for eight years (11.17secs) I was re­ally proud of my­self. There was also a sense of re­lief.”

A year ago she spoke mov­ingly about her fall from the heights she hit as a ju­nior, how the men­tal bat­tle came close to break­ing her. Twelve months on she seems a dif­fer­ent per­son.

“I’m a big be­liever in hav­ing a calm mind. As my coach Stu McMil­lan says: ‘A calm Jodie is a fast Jodie’.”

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