JESSICA Judd is hoping to put what she felt was a disappointing performance at the UK Indoor Championships behind her when she steps back on to the track tomorrow.
The 18-year-old said she was optimistic of running faster than the 9m 14.71s she chalked up in the 3,000m final in Sheffield last weekend.
The run was still good enough to earn her a bronze medal and – after a little bit of soul searching – the Canvey teenager is looking forward to running another 15 laps at the Birmingham Grand Prix tomorrow.
“I was confident I was going to run better than I did last weekend,” said Judd, whose run in Sheffield was her ever first competitive race indoors.
“Training has been going really well. I know I’m in good shape. I had done some good sessions at Lee Valley (indoor track) and was confident I could run 15 laps and enjoy it.”
Judd typically took the race to her opponents, leading the field until inside the final kilometre when she said she knew she was off her target.
She said: “I thought I was capable of running a PB (9m 8.5s) and thought I should have run what (winner) Lauren Howarth ran (8m 56.48s), but it was obvious with a kilometre to go that I was not going to do it. But at least I managed to get a medal.”
The King John School sixth-former admitted to being a bit down on the journey home from Sheffield, but some encouraging words from coach Rob Denmark and dad Mike went some way to lifting her spirits.
“I was really down,” she said. “It was nice to have Rob and my dad there on the way home because I was so upset.
“But it’s the start of a process that’s leading to the summer track season.”
And the next part of that process is Saturday’s Birmingham GP where she will again run the 3,000m in a high-class field.
“It’s a bit of a loaded field,” laughed Judd. “But there’s no pressure on me. I can just go out there and enjoy it and move on from last week. It will be nice to run alongside some of those names.”
The meeting is being screened live on the BBC tomorrow and Judd says she is getting used to being on the television and going head-to-head with international stars.
But it does have one downside.
“Everyone keeps winding me up because I haven’t won a race for a while,” said Judd. “But every race I’ve done has been really competitive. I’m getting stronger from racing such good people, but it hasn’t stopped my friends and family winding me up!”