The secret behind Jessica Ennis’s challenge for medals is that she has been bribed by her grandfather! She recalls her development as a teenager: “He would give me a pound for a personal best or maybe a “fiver” for a title”! She did so well that grandad Rod Powell joked: “You’re bankrupting me.” Her granddad remains her biggest supporter.Two years ago Ennis packed away her books after graduating with a psychology degree from the University of Sheffield when her coach Tony Minichiello quitted his job to coach professionally.
Last year, months of injury ended. Jessica Ennis had a remarkable comeback. “I wouldn't wish my year on anyone else” she said, “but it's done me good and made me fresher,”.
“I've changed my take-off foot because I want to manage the toll on my right ankle,” she said. “I'm confident I'll be able to jump farther than before in the long run, but that's the event I need to work on because I've lost a bit.”
It was the right ankle that sidelined her for the olympic summer. Billed as a medal hope for the Beijing Olympic Games, Ennis suffered two stress fractures while competing in Austria. She said she went home, cried a lot, sat on a magnetic bed every day and received enough flowers to make her think someone had died. “I can still remember the doctor saying that we had to be very careful or it could be career-threatening,” she said. “My heart sank when I heard that and I panicked. The Olympics were gone, but it could have been much worse.”
Last year she also had to decide whether to ban her family from travelling to Berlin in August.” The year before they had all bought tickets for Beijing and it costs a fortune,” she said. In fact, the tickets for parents, grandparents, boyfriend and sister came to £18,000. “ To Usain Bolt it would probably not have been a money problem, but for a combined events athlete life can be hard! “It’s a though event. If you don’t have the motivation, it’ s impossible” she said.
But life has changed since. Jess became heptathlon world champion in Berlin with a life time best of 6731 points. Ranked 61 on the all time list at the beginning of the year she went to number 20. Reason to be hopeful for this winter and yes, Jessica finished the women’s Pentathlon competition in style, winning another gold medal with a wide margin. The 24-year-old went for it from the start and took the lead to go after the World record but we will have to wait patiently for the next years, maybe she will be the first women to break the border of 5000 points! She bettered Swede Carolina Klüft’s competition record of 4933 from Birmingham 2003 to 4937 points. With a small margin, Jessica grabbed the British record from Kelly Sotherton who had scored 4927 points, 10 points less than Ennis.
Ennis set four indoor personal bests during the competition. In the shot put, long jump, 800m and Pentathlon total score. Ennis moves to third place in the official world alltime list behind Russian Irina Belova and Carolina Klüft (East German Anke Behmer has scored 4995 points in 1988 on oversized track what would make Jessica fourth performer).
Probably Russian wonder child Tatyana Chernova will be the biggest threat to Jessica. She and Ukrainian Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska both scored a pb this winter. Respectively 4855 and 4851 points, both entering the all time top ten.
A few interesting facts about Jessica Ennis:
Jessica jumps 30 cm higher than her own height. Only six athletes in the world are having a better high jump counted from difference between own height and high jump height (Ennis: height 165cm/195 cm high jump). Only four heptathletes have a better life time best in the high jump (Hellebaut 205, di Martino 203 having also the world record of 34 cm, Stanton 196, Wentland 196 cm). She has the British record in the high jump and broke this winter the British record in the 60 m hurdles (7.95) in which she defeated world champion Lolo Jones. Her 8.04 for the 60 hurdles was the best ever in a world championships pentathlon!