Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ben Williams says it was 'unfinished business' that kept him going

Ben Williams is the only British athlete to have achieved the qualifying standard for Tokyo 2020
Ben Williams is the only British athlete to have achieved the qualifying standard for Tokyo 2020

Triple jumper Ben Williams now looks bound for Tokyo to represent Great Britain at next year's Olympic Games.

But the 27-year-old Staffordshire athlete admits that it was less than a year ago that he came close to quitting as he struggled to mentally get over a long-standing knee injury.

"Coming back from injury was a difficult time," he said.

"I was suffering with mental health but people kept motivating me to get into the gym and that's what I needed."

The 24-year-old world record

  • The British triple jump record is 18.29m, by Jonathan Edwards at the World Championships in Gothenburg in August 1995.
  • It is also, rather more importantly, still the world record too, having gone unbroken in 24 years.

Ben Williams' knee problems

Current British triple jump champion Williams, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, has suffered from numerous knee injuries throughout his career.

He missed the London Olympic Games in 2012 and Rio in 2016, before having major surgery in 2017, which kept him out of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

But, while that took him to a low point, it was one of his closest friends, mixed martial artist Joffie Houlton, coupled with support from members of his family, which helped get him on an upward curve again.

"I wasn't able to jump and do what I wanted in training," he told BBC Radio Stoke. "There seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn't be bothered with it.

"But, as much as I was saying in my head I couldn't continue any more, and them knowing that I can be headstrong, I had unfinished business.

"It was tough. Coming back from injury was a difficult time but major props to them for helping me carry on. They got me back in the gym."

Having hit the Tokyo 2020 qualifying standard, Williams then jumped 16.77m at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September.

He finished 17th, but a 17m jump - a mark he is capable of, having become the first British triple jumper to land that far in seven years - would have won him a medal.

"I've got the standard, well in excess of the standard, in fact," said the former world youth champion. "And no other British triple jumper has hit the standard, or even remotely close to it, if I'm being honest.

"I've just got to stay injury free, keep fit and ready, then I'm Tokyo-bound."

Ben Williams was talking to BBC Stoke's Robin Grey

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