Jessica Ennis, one of Britain’s brightest hopes for Olympic gold this year, is using her World Indoors loss as motivation
The dust may have settled on Jessica Ennis’s defeat at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, but the memories are still vivid. Now, ahead of the biggest summer campaign of her life, Ennis is fired up more than ever – as though she didn’t already have enough motivation to perform well on the biggest sporting stage in front of a home crowd.
Ennis is not overly concerned with her form so far this year. If anything, there is a lot to be encouraged by. She smashed her 60m hurdles PB, improved her indoor long jump PB and improved her own UK record in the pentathlon at the World Indoors, setting an outright lifetime best in the shot along the way.
But on the day her best was not good enough as Ukraine’s Nataliya Dobrynska became the first woman in history to break 5000 points in the pentathlon, setting a world record of 5013 to win her first global title since her 2008 Olympic gold.
It was the second major championships in a row where Ennis was made to settle for silver. Her defeat to Russia’s Tatyana Chernova at the World Championships in Daegu last summer ended the gold rush that saw Ennis win the 2009 World, 2010 European and 2010 World Indoor titles.
“Of course coming second is always disappointing,” said Ennis. “But there are lots of positives – both competitions have given me more focus on what to work on.
“Any defeat is going to make you focus and work that little bit harder, but I don’t dwell on it. I focus on myself and work at making my strengths and weaknesses better.”
In Istanbul earlier this month, world champion Chernova had an off-day and finished outside the medals. Similarly, Dobrynska has had her share of championship disappointments since her 2008 breakthrough, finishing fourth and fifth at the past two World Championships. All of which goes to show that anything can happen to any athlete on the day of competition – especially in an event as competitive as the heptathlon.
Dobrynska in particular will have some major obstacles to overcome this season, as her husband and coach Dmitriy Polyakov sadly passed away last week at the age of 48 after suffering from rapidly-progressing cancer.
But of course Ennis can only focus on her own preparations for the London Olympics and is pleased with how things are progressing. “Despite the personal bests and national record in Istanbul, we know that good work has been done in all the events as the earlier season performances show.”
While a below-par long jump was to blame for her loss in Istanbul, it was the javelin that proved to be her undoing in Daegu last year, and she has adressed that by working with former world bronze medallist Mick Hill.
“We took a short break after the (2011) outdoor season as usual and got straight back into working with Mick Hill on the javelin,” she said. “I’m really happy with how it’s progressing and hope to see some better results this season.
“The long jump has already produced an indoor PB and it’s all about making it more consistent.”
Ennis will contest her first heptathlon of the year at the prestigious Hypo Meeting combined events competition in Gotzis where she will come up against Chernova and Dobrynska, but before that she will commence her 2012 outdoor campaign at the Powerade Great CityGames in Manchester on Sunday May 20.
She will race in one of her strongest events – the 100m hurdles – at the unique street event held in Deansgate, situated in the heart of the city centre.
“The street athletics is a fantastic event, it’s so different from stadium meetings, which is so refreshing for me,” said Ennis, who will be joined by over a dozen Olympic and world medallists at the meet. “This season is such a short season which makes Manchester so important for me as part of my Olympic preparations.”
With her full schedule yet to be confirmed, she added: “All I can announce at this stage is that I am preparing for the Gotzis heptathlon meeting the weekend after Manchester, after which it will be only 11 weeks to the Olympic Heptathlon so I’ll be very selective about competitions.”