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Enfield and Haringey Athletic Club's Desiree Henry upbeat ahead of World Junior Championships
3:06pm Tuesday 10th July 2012 in Sport
Competing against the best in the country has restored sprinter Desiree Henry’s confidence ahead of the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
The teenager had endured a difficult 2012 with injuries and a loss of form, after a sparkling 2011 which saw her crowned 200m World Youth Games champion.
However, a shock sixth place at the Aviva UK Olympic Trials in Birmingham last month brought back the Enfield and Haringey AC member’s confidence and also that of the selectors, who have picked her in the 200m for this week's championships.
The 16-year-old said: “After coming third at the junior trials in Bedford, the Olympic trials was the last chance to redeem myself.
“I had never even planned to go to the Olympic trials, other than to watch, but because of my situation I entered to try and make my case.
“I was surprised to get into the final. I hadn’t even told any of my friends or training partners I was competing but then I went past my personal expectations.
“Because of how the season had gone, I hadn’t done that great so coming sixth was a big shock. The final was against the best girls in the UK so that, kind of, gave me the confidence.
“I think running well at the trials made the selectors make the decision. It means people still believe in me and have the faith.
“I now have a bit more confidence about getting into the final and, you never know, even coming home with a medal.”
Confidence and the mental side of performance are just as important as the physical side for Henry, whose ultimate aim is to become Olympic champion.
“I’ve had the pressure of winning the World Youth Games and people then had their high expectations and going below them did knock my confidence,” said Henry, who benefits from being a member of the Spar Sprint Stars programme.
"I don’t feel the same as when I won the World Youths, I’m not in the same place now. I still feel the same place physically, but not mentally.”
However, it seems Birmingham marked an important turning-point for Henry, who ran 23.25 to win the World Youth Championships in Lille last year, but has struggled to reach those peaks this summer.
She said: “After the Olympic Trials, people started to gain confidence back in me, which boosted my own confidence too.
“In Barcelona, realistically getting into the final would be an accomplishment.
“I would be pretty happy but I would always be pondering what would have happened if I’d had an injury-free year.”
Brought to you by SPAR, Official Sponsors of UK Athletics. For more information visit www.spar.co.uk