Newcastle-under-Lyme triple jumper on track for his Olympic dream

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Newcastle-under-Lyme athlete Ben Williams is just a fudge bar away from his Olympic dream.

The triple jumper just needs to leap another 11cm –  the length of the Cadbury’s fudge snack – and he’ll be on the plane to Rio.

The 24-year-old former Haywood Academy student in Burslem first jumped in school and registered a distance of 12m.

Eight years on, he is still chasing his Olympic dream.

After winning the World Youth Championship in 2009, Ben struggled with injury for several years, suffering with recurring ankle and back problems.

During the last eight years, Ben doubted whether it was worth his time.

Training was time consuming and he grew increasingly frustrated with his injury situation.

He told StaffsLive: “Every Tuesday and Thursday after a hard session on a cold rainy night I would drive home questioning why I was still doing it.

“I guess the belief my family and coach had in me and the belief I had in myself pushed me to put my spikes in my bag everyday.”

The Stoke AC member is coached by John Crotty, 67, who coaches three world champions and has been to five Olympic Games.

John recalled the first time he saw Ben, he described him as a “skinny footballer from Port Vale”.

He said: “He took to triple jump immediately it was clear he had a special talent for the event.

“He was a very keen competitor from day one, second is like coming last to Ben.”

In his first year he improved by over a metre – training just three times a week which is much higher than average.

The London Games in 2012 saw Greg Rutherford become a household name after winning gold in triple jump on ‘Super Saturday’.

Ben recalls watching the Olympics at home and described Greg’s performance as inspirational and motivational.

He said: “Any British athlete achieving the highest they can is an inspiration.

“The fact it was a jumper made it more relatable as that is my dream.”

To achieve his dream, Ben jumped over the pond and took up a scholarship in America at the University of Louisville.

Since moving to the States three years ago, he has continued to improve and is now only 11cm off the qualification length of 16.85m, something he believes he is more than capable of achieving.

“I’m feeling very confident.

“Not too far away from the standard right now with a while to go so I’m in a good place.

“Training for the Olympics starts the day the last Olympics ends.

“All of my family have put so much into me – so it will be just as much of an achievement for them as it will be for me.”

Ben’s mum Emma Williams, 41, said: “I’m extremely proud of him, but then I am always proud of him, nothing he does surprises me.

“I would love to see him. It’s a once in a life time opportunity to see him on such a big stage, but I’ll have to see financially.”

The last Olympian from Stoke-on-Trent was pole vaulter Steven Lewis, who took part in the Beijing and London games.

Ben needs to jump 16.85m twice and come in the top two at the trials to make the team.

The trials are being held in Birmingham on June 25 and 26.

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