The 2014 women's 400m Diamond League winner Novlene Williams-Mills has had to overcome challenges both on and off the track. The Jamaican one-lap stalwart offers her words of wisdom.

1. Never give up

“I started out as a 100m and 200m runner, but it was only later when someone suggested I try the 400m that I did start to enjoy real success. Sometimes an athlete needs to be patient before finding their true event. 

“Athletes will also suffer injuries from time to time, but it is important not to become frustrated and give up. It may mean you may not be able to run for the season but sometimes athletes give up too easily. We might try 1-2-3 when really we need to go to 5-6-7 and try a bit harder to achieve our goals. 

“When I first got to college in New Jersey it was very cold and I thought what am I doing here, but I persisted with the sport. Sometimes things take time.”

Novlene Williams-Mills SPIKES ()

Williams-Mills was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, just months before the London Olympics – she placed 5th over 400m

2. Take responsibility

“There is no quick fix in the sport of athletics. Even if you were a stellar junior athlete, there is no guarantee that talent will carry you through as a senior athlete without hard work. 

“I sometimes hear athletes not believing in what their coach is asking them to do – but often they have never even tried what their coach is asking of them. It is important to take responsibility for your actions as an athlete and try not to blame other people for your disappointment. Personally, I like a challenge and I like my coach to mix up my training sessions otherwise I become bored.”

Novlene Williams-Mills SPIKES ()

On top of her Diamond League victory, NWM took home 4x4 gold and 400m silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games

3. Follow your dreams

“Your dream may not necessarily be to succeed in athletics, but whatever your dream is – go for it! You will always have negative people in life who tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams and ambitions, but I would say ignore them. 

“If you feel you are capable of doing so, I would say go for it. I'd rather go out and try and achieve something and fail, than not try at all. I would say always follow your dream no matter how big it is.”