Teenage star Jessica Judd won’t forget her Diamond League debut in a hurry.
The 17-year-old, from Canvey , ran in the 800m at a star-studded meeting in Birmingham yesterday. And she has got the bumps and bruises, plus the treasured memory of some kind words from the Olympic champion, to remember it by.
“It was so scary on the start line but it felt like I belonged there,” said Judd, the current World Junior Champion-ships silver medallist for 800m.
“And after the race Mariya Savinova (the Olympic champion and winner on the day) came over and said well done.
“She started speaking in Russian at first, which was a bit difficult to understand, but she said ‘well done’ in English and that meant a lot that she knew who I was.
“She has been my idol. She is the one I really wanted to win the Olympics because tactically she runs so well and it was like a dream come true for me to race her.”
Judd revealed she doesn’t remember too much about the race but was slightly disappointed to finish in eighth place in 2m 3.39s. The race was tactical and niggly and with a slow last lap which did not suit the teenager.
“I knew when we went round the first lap in 61 seconds that it was going to be tough and my aim of running sub two minutes wasn’t going to happen,” she said.
The King John School sixth-former said she was tempted to take the lead to pick the pace up but had the conversation with a British middle-distance legend the night before playing in her head.
“It felt too much of a risk taking it on,” she said. “I met Steve Cram the night before and he said ‘enjoy it and make sure you don’t take it on’ and I was thinking about that. I don’t want to be known as the person who does that.
“It was very messy and I got lots of bumps and bruises and I was a little bit disappointed with myself. Not with the time, because that was always going to be slow off that first lap, but with the placings.
“It was an amazing experience though and it proves I’m getting better year on year. Next year is the World Championships and that’s something I really want to focus on. I ran the World Championship trials last year and was there with 400m to go, at this Diamond League I was there with 600m to go, so hopefully next year I’ll be there with 800m down!”