Northampton runner Williams is on top of the world!

Emily Williams celebrates winning world 800m gold
Emily Williams celebrates winning world 800m gold

Northampton runner Emily Williams produced a brilliant performance to become the ISF World Schools 800m champion.

The Kettering Town Harriers athlete was also instrumental in helping the England Girls team storm to victory and claim the team gold to retain their status as world champions - a title they also won in 2017 in France.

Emily Williams clinches team gold in the relay

Emily Williams clinches team gold in the relay

The competition, held over two days in Split, Croatia, saw the English Schools Athletic Association secure victory in the girls category and finish runners-up in the boys.

Williams also had the great privilege of being nominated the captain of the girls team.

The event attracted more than 500 athletes and 86 teams from 29 countries as far apart as Australia, Brazil and China.

The team format is unique in athletics with a six-strong team selected to cover the main events (sprints, throws, jumps and middle distance , as well as a medley relay) with athletes doubling up to secure the highest points total.

The winner is the team with the highest number of points.

England’s girls team secured a points total of 853 to defeat the second-placed squad, France, who finished with 817 points.

Williams won her individual 800m race to become the ISF World Schools 800m champion in style.

Leading from the gun, she set a fierce pace over the opening 400m, with China’s Wan Fang and France’s Clara Pavlovic in hot pursuit.

Williams continued to drive the pace on the back straight and the competition were unable to hang on to her as she pulled away to win comfortably by more than three seconds in 2:08.86 to secure 90 points for the girls team.

Williams was dubbed ‘Captain Fantastic’ by the ESAA team managers.

Day two saw Williams selected to run the 400m anchor leg of the medley relay (100m, 200m, 300m & 400m).

The scene was set with England leading the French by a small margin in the team competition, and with the medley relay the deciding and final event of the two-day competition.

The England team consisted of Jenna Blundell (100m), Abigail Pawlett (200m), Jasmine Jolly (300m) and Williams (400m & anchor leg), and they needed to beat the French to guarantee the team gold.

After the first two legs, England and France were neck and neck with a strong Brazilian team, and Jasmine Jolly ran a fine leg to claw back a four-metre gap which had opened up behind the French.

Williams was handed the baton and settled in just behind the French, who soon opened up a 5m gap chasing down the Brazilian team, who had taken the lead with the individual 400m winner.

Williams didn’t panic, knowing her strength would come through in the latter stages, but also conscious she needed to beat the French to guarantee the team victory.

Williams ensured she had plenty in the tank for the final 100m, and she attacked hard on the home straight and reeled in the French athlete with a brilliantly-paced race to surge ahead and take the team gold by 3m.

She ran a hugely impressive individual split of 56.7 seconds, nearly two seconds quicker than her 400m PB.

Williams, who secured her seventh international vest during the competition, was delighted with her contribution.

Her club coach, Shane Smith, said: “Emily has once again performed brilliantly when asked to represent her country at a World Championships, producing a top quality time to win the 800m and then run a huge 400m PB to storm past the main competition in the anchor leg of the medley relay.

“I am very proud of her achievements, and especially that she was chosen to be the girls team captain.”