Q&A WITH… JODIE WILLIAMS

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Country: United Kingdom

Profession: Athlete

Career highlights:

  • 2021 European Indoor Championships 400m bronze medalist 
  • 2016 Olympian
  • 2014 Commonwealth Games 200m silver medalist and 4x100m bronze medalist
  • 2014 European Championships 200m silver medalist and 4x100m gold medalist
  • 2x World Youth Championships gold medalist (100m and 200m)
  • World Junior Championships 100m gold medalist and 200m silver medalist

Miss Money Legs is an interesting nickname. Who gave you the name and why?

Well, my friends in high school used to call my legs the money makers and whenever we were playing sports at school or doing anything remotely risky they would make a joke not to harm the “money makers”. I mentioned it in an interview once and, all of a sudden, I was “Money Legs”. I actually really dislike the name especially because they really aren’t living up to their name!!!

Transitioning from a junior athlete to a senior professional athlete can be difficult. What did you find most challenging?

For me, the biggest struggle I had was finding areas we could do “more” in. From a very young age I had been in a professional set up meaning that I was already training above my capacity; this caused me a lot of injuries in my initial years as a senior as I was both mentally and physically burnt out. The injury struggles also caused a lot of doubt and I struggled a lot with my self-worth too, I was so used to winning and being on top that when I couldn’t reproduce these achievements or times it deeply affected my confidence. I went through a period where I had to redefine who I was and find value in areas outside of the track so that my achievements and my mental health weren’t so intrinsically linked.

Your bronze medal at the recent European Indoor Championships was your first in almost 7 years – can you tell us what was the first thought that went through your mind when you crossed the line?

I was both happy and annoyed at the same time, I went to the champs in a really good place mentally and physically and our aim from the beginning had been to go there to win so it was bittersweet. It’s still an event I’m figuring out and I think with a few more races under my belt I could have given the gold a better shot. I’m an athlete so I will never be satisfied, however, if this sport has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy the moments you are on top as you never know when they will come around again. I am proud of myself for getting back on a podium after so long and overcoming a lot of adversity along the way.

As a member of ‘Unlocked’ what changes do you think need to happen in women’s sport in the next few years?

First of all, I’d like to say how amazing the Unlocked programme is, to be in a space with so many successful sports women and to be given the opportunity to discuss our ideas and connect with others on a similar path to your own is invaluable.

For me I think the biggest issue within women’s sport is our visibility. Obviously being a track athlete, we are shown at the same time as the men so we get the same TV exposure, but within other sports this exposure simply does not exist. If we are not seen there is no investment in our journeys and our performances. In fact the Women’s Sport Trust recently did a study on “Closing the Visibility Gap” (which you can find here: https://www.womenssporttrust.com/closing-the-visibility-gap/) which found that “more than 80% of UK women’s sport fans say that major events and TV exposure have been important reasons for following” and that “images of athletes in action are 12% more likely to prompt someone to find out more about the sport than images of athletes in a personal or entertainment setting”.

I also feel that brands need to do a better job at showcasing real sports women. Often when brands sponsor women it’s because they fit a certain aesthetic and has little to do with actual athletic ability. We need to be showcasing a diverse spectrum of women who are on top of their game and showing them in their sporting environment so that young girls have something to aspire to. If they see women who look like them on billboards or on big social media campaigns, they can see that sport is a viable option and will have role models who look like them to look up to.

What was the motivation behind Coffee Conversations and what do you hope to achieve with the channel?

Coffee Conversations has been something I have wanted to do for a long time but just never really had the confidence to do. I felt like I was boxed in to just being an athlete and that no one would be interested in my passions outside of sport, but the pandemic really shifted my perspective on that. It made me realise that sport is not going to be forever and that I need to nurture these other parts of me. I’m a big podcast fan and love listening to conversations that expand your way of thinking and give you a new perspective. I am passionate about elevating women’s voices, especially those that are dampened in the mainstream media or through cultural oppression. I have a platform where I can reach a diverse group of people and I wanted to actually do something about what I was seeing and hearing about rather than just being passive about it.

Through Coffee Conversations I want to give women a place to be heard and listened to on topics that are important to them. I focus on topics that I feel should be heard by a wider audience and that are specifically female related issues. To me it is important that I give my platform to people who are educated in their fields and that represent what they are talking about. I think we often brush over the voices that need to be heard and lend our own voices to their struggles rather than just sitting back and listening to the people who have lived experiences and can speak from that perspective.

You are quite a fashionista! What is your favourite apparel or fashion brand?

Thank you! I like to express myself through my clothing and have done since I was a child. My favourite brand is PUMA! I genuinely love their clothes and shoes both on and off the track and feel that our values surrounding expression align. I am also a huge Dr Martens fan or anything I can find at thrift stores. I like to try and go to places in different countries and find one off vintage pieces or really cool up-cycled clothing.

What was your first tattoo?

My first tattoo (I now have 14) was the quote “pain is temporary, victory is forever” on my wrists. 

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