New European Under 23 100m champion Simeon Williamson will not be rushed as he prepares to peak at London 2012 or even the 2016 Olympics.
He became the first athlete to emerge from Inner London through the new UK Athletics North London High Performance Centre at Lee Valley to win a major gold medal when he stormed to a championships record of 10.10 seconds in Debrecen, Hungary.
His emphatic victory – four-hundredths of a second ahead of GB’s European Cup winner Craig Pickering, who also ran a lifetime best time – took him to second in the national senior rankings behind Marlon Devonish.
And it has set up the prospect of an intriguing ‘Generation Game’ at the Norwich Union World Trials in Manchester on 27-29 July with 30-somethings Devonish and European Indoor 60m champion Jason Gardener challenged by 21-year-olds Williamson and Pickering, with mid-20s Tyrone Edgar and Mark Lewis-Francis adding to the mix.
At the moment, before Devonish faces USA speed king Tyson Gay at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Sheffield tomorrow, the domestic leaders in the season’s rankings are:
10.06…Devonish (Coventry Godiva Harriers)
10.10…Williamson (Highgate Harriers)
10.13…Edgar (Newham and Essex Beagles)
10.14…Pickering (Marshall Milton Keynes)
10.19…Lewis-Francis (Birchfield Harriers)
But Williamson’s coach, former hurdles international Lloyd Cowan, said today: “Simeon’s progress is not about racing Marlon Devonish. It’s more about emulating the feats of Linford Christie.”
Christie won the 1992 Olympic 100m title at the age of 31 and Cowan added: “ I respect Marlon, of course. But my job is about doing the job Simeon can do and, like every sprinter, he wants to be the best.
“But the guys who medalled here have a long road to go. They are 21. Linford was 27 before he ran their sort of times. For a UK 21-year-old to run 10.10 is fantastic for the sport.
“What we have to do is develop that talent, not rush it; be realistic, not impatient. If it takes Simeon as long as it took Linford, great! He will be a self-made man.”