Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Jessica Judd vows to come back even stronger
JESSICA Judd believes the highs and lows of the season of her life will only make her stronger in years to come.
The 18-year-old 800m star has been forced to end her track campaign early because of a pelvis injury picked up during the World Championships in Moscow.
Those World Championships – her first as a senior athlete – served as a painful notice to the Canvey teenager that sometimes even the best laid plans are not enough to ensure success.
After a sensational opening to the season that saw her win on her senior Great Britain debut at the European Team Championships and storm to victory at a Diamond League meeting by dipping inside the magical two-minute barrier for the first time, Judd should have been going to Moscow full of youthful excuberance and hope.
But a torn plantaris tendon in her calf led to an enforced break from training in the lead up to the championships and meant she was always playing catch up in her efforts to return to her best form.
And that ultimately told as Judd was run out of her heats in heartbreaking fashion in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium on her first morning of competition.
“I did everything I could in the race,” she said. “I didn’t do anything wrong until when I was meant to kick for home and I just didn’t have anything in my legs.
“I was so upset because I had given so much just to be at the championships and I had got myself in the right position in the race, but there was nothing there.
“But I did everything in my power. I know if I had done other stuff like gone to the European Junior Championships (Judd pulled out to protect her injury), it would have been worse. It was the best I could have done.
“It’s frustrating because if I round up my runs at Gateshead (where Judd won the European Team Championships) and Birmingham (where she won the Diamond League), I was in 1m 58s shape.
“But I wasn’t in that shape in Moscow. I knew that. Looking back at my training times, they weren’t as good as before the injury.”
To make matters worse, Judd felt a niggle in her pelvis in the lead up to the race and an MRI scan last week confirmed it was a “stress response” probably caused by altering her running style to compensate for her injured calf.
Medics have told the Chelmsford AC athlete to rest, meaning her track season is now over.
The enforced break has given Judd a good chance to take stock of what has been another incredible year for her as well as doing a few things that “normal people do!”.
“I’ve been swimming for the first time in years,” said Judd. “It’s nice being able to relax, but I’ll get bored pretty quickly!
“I would say it’s been the best season of my life. I have achieved so much and hopefully I can now build on that and take it into next year.
“I know what it’s like to be at the top level now and there are the European Championships and Commonwealth Games next year and the Commonwealths (in Glasgow) will be in front of a home crowd, so that’s definitely an ambition.
“I couldn’t watch the semi-finals of the World Championships because I wanted to be there so much. But I watched the final and thought ‘wow’, but then I thought ‘what’s stopping me from being there?’ I was in that shape earlier in the season.”
With that in mind, Judd – whose pain at being eliminated in the heats was soothed somewhat by the news a few hours later that she had achieved an A*, A and B in her A-Levels – has decided to put off university for a year and concentrate wholly on her running.
“I feel like I have lived a lifetime in the last few weeks,” she laughed. “I was so happy with my exam results but I have decided to concentrate just on running this next year.
“It will give me the chance to go away for warm weather training, like the other athletes do, and work more on my strength and conditioning and my bio-mechanics.
“This past year has always been a struggle, trying to fit training in around my studies. I’ve done well to achieve what I have done but this will enable me to focus solely on running.”
It all means that the next time we see Judd racing will probably be over the cross-country in the winter when she feels there will be a bit less pressure on her now she has shown herself to be primarily a track runner.
“Winter is now going to be all about putting down a really good base for next summer,” said Judd.
“The pressure will be off a bit in the cross-country races because I think I’ve shown I’m more of a track runner now!
“I have learnt so much this year and I want to take that on.
“I was disappointed with how it ended but it’s good to be disappointed sometimes – it shows your standards are high!”