British teenage talent sets her sights on World Junior Championships


Sprinter Desiree Henry is looking to emulate Jodie Williams at this year’s showpiece youth event in Barcelona.


By Tom Reynolds, Sportsbeat

SHE’S in the same stable as British athletics’ hottest young property but Edmonton’s Desiree Henry doesn’t cast an envious eye across the track – rather the opposite – as she sets about imitation once again this year.

Henry is the current training partner to two-time world youth, one-time world junior and two-time European junior champion Jodie Williams with both sprinters coached by Olympic silver medallist Mike McFarlane.

Last year Enfield and Haringey AC sprinter Henry took the first steps to showing that 18-year-old Williams isn’t the only British teenage talent to be excited about – taking gold in the 200m at the World Youth Championships in Lille.

Unlike Williams, who completed a world youth sprint double in 2009, Henry didn’t enter the 100m but she can still very much further emulate her with the World Junior Championships this year’s showpiece youth event.

Williams won 100m gold and 200m in Canada in 2010 and, while Henry is likely to stick mainly with the latter, she is adamant her mindset is such that anything could be possible in Barcelona in July.

“I think the fact that Jodie is so close in age with me and she’s gone through it all has given me the hope that I can actually do the same as her and become as great as her,” said Henry.

“To be able to train with Jodie is an amazing opportunity and I think I am the type of person who believes once everybody gets to the startling line we have all got the same opportunity.

“The ones who have the right mindset are able to deliver and cope underneath the pressure of it all should do really well and I have been training hard and have a really positive mindset.

“I’ll hopefully qualify for the worlds juniors and go there as a world champion but I will also be one of the youngest – I’ll only be 16 and some will be up to 19.

“But I am looking to come in the top three or win. In terms of times I don’t want to jinx anything but I think I can come up with something special and surprise everyone.”

Henry was given further reward for her efforts in 2011 last week as she was invited with seven other up-and-coming athletes on to this year’s Spar Sprints Stars scheme.

She will receive support ranging from travel, food and equipment and admitted it couldn’t have been better timed with Henry shaking off a slight knee injury over the winter.

“To be a Spar Sprints Star is an absolutely amazing achievement. It feels great to be acknowledged and get the extra support and help needed to become an amazing athlete,” she added.

“It will give me motivation just to do well knowing I’ve got the support of people believing in me and thinking I can do well in the future.”

Brought to you by SPAR, Official Sponsors of UK Athletics. For more information visit

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