8 December 2009
World Championship medallist Jenny Meadows has revealed the inspiration behind her Berlin success - UKA Heroes star sprinter Jodie Williams.
The Wigan athlete was on hand to honour the 15 UKA Heroes athletes at the UKA Awards Dinner at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham on 5 December.
Each athlete received their second funding cheque of £500, while Meadows presented Niall Flannery and Dan Lucker with an additional £500 cash windfall after they were named joint winners of the Hero of the Year prize.
But Meadows reserved special praise for Williams after her 100m and 200m double this summer.
"What Jodie did this year was unbelievable and her achievements in Italy set up the whole of Team GB before we went to Berlin," said Meadows.
"We were all like ‘wow, this girl is top of the world' and it's not often you see someone in a British vest do that.
"They all seem really disciplined and level-headed which is amazing for that age. There's a big difference between junior and senior but initiatives the Heroes Project and support from Original Source this make them realise how lucky they are to be in this privileged position.
"When I was that age I didn't have a clue and didn't get much support. Sometimes I'd get picked for Great Britain and think I'd done really well just for doing that but I didn't know what I was trying to achieve when I got to the championships.
"These guys are going to major championships and bringing home a host of medals - it's fantastic."
Wheelchair athlete Lucker - who now trains with double Beijing Paralympic gold medallist David Weir - has had an all-conquering year on the track, scooping six medals at the IWAS World Junior Championships in Switzerland.
Lucker topped the podium four times in Nottwil as well as securing two silver medals - but with the jump from junior to senior on the horizon for the 16-year-old, he insists 2010 will be his toughest year yet.
"I've had a great 2009 and I can't wait for next year to come around," said Lucker. "Next year will be even bigger for me because I'll be racing at senior level rather than juniors but I'm sure there will be pressure on myself to perform just as well.
"I've just started training with Dave and already I can see a difference - to have someone like that to ask advice from is brilliant."
Fellow prize-winner Flannery suffered heartache at the European Junior Championships in Serbia - the Gateshead 400m hurdler was ranked second in Europe but could only finish fourth in the final.
But after adding the Hero of the Year title to his growing list of honours, Flannery is adamant 2010 will be his year.
"It would be brilliant to kick on again next year," he said. "I've moved to Loughborough University and stepped up my training so everything is pointing to me running quicker next year.
"I didn't expect to achieve what I did achieve this season but there will be pressure to do that again next year.
"I was looking to medal in Serbia and knew I could have done that but looking back, I had a good year."
2009 Heroes athletes: Abdie Ahmed; Jordan McGrath; Jessica Leach; Beth Potter; Shaunna Thompson; Jodie Williams; Jade Ive; Ben Reynolds; Niall Flannery; Ross Murray; Izzy Jeffs; Laura Weightman; Sarah Holt; Dan Lucker; Alan McKie.
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.
Learn more about UKA Heroes- http://www.uka.org.uk/sponsors/original-source/heroes/