Olympic and world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill talks about her 2015 comeback, the Rio Games and when she might retire
Jessica Ennis-Hill has said that it would be “quite a buzz” to return to London to compete at the 2017 IAAF World Championships before she retires.
The 30-year-old’s focus is currently on the Rio Olympic Games this summer but in an interview with Laureus.com about her nomination for the Laureus World Sports Awards, Ennis-Hill said: “It’s going to be a decision to make, whether I retire after Rio or whether I decide to do one more year and go to the World Championships and retire after that. It would be quite a buzz to compete there. But I definitely won’t be going on any longer than 2017.
“I have so many memories from 2012,” she added, reflecting on her Olympic experience. “For me, it’s always that feeling that I had when I stepped out into the stadium for the first time to line up for the hurdles. Seeing that incredible crowd and seeing the stadium at that time in the morning. You’re ready to just perform and do what you’ve been training for, for so many years. It was incredible. I’ll never, ever forget those two days.”
Ennis-Hill regained the world heptathlon title in Beijing last August following injury and just 13 months after the birth of her first child, Reggie. That led to her being nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, for which the winner will be announced on April 18 in Berlin.
“Last year was one of the greatest years of my career and for it to be recognised on a global stage is very exciting,” Ennis-Hill said of her nomination. “It was quite nerve-racking stepping back on to the world stage again, not feeling as prepared as I normally am. But I still knew that I really wanted it.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t come back disappointed and I didn’t come back empty handed. So to step away with the gold medal was more than I could ever have imagined and wished for that year.”
On her return after the birth of Reggie, she added: “I suppose the key moment for me was coming back, my first session after having Reggie, and just finding my feet. I just remember having one hill session that we normally do every year at the beginning of winter training in the park, and I just found it incredibly hard. I couldn’t keep up with the pace. I couldn’t keep up with the group.
“I always had that determined response to fully come back and compete again. But as I started training, I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was physically and mentally and how much it was going to take out of me.”
The Briton won her second world title in Beijing, beating Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton to claim victory, but Ennis-Hill knows that the competition will be even tougher in Rio.
“People will obviously expect me to just keep performing at a high level and winning gold medals. Unfortunately it’s not that easy,” she said. “And this year is going to be more challenging just because of the level of competition. Everyone has stepped up their game and worked that much harder and performed that much better.
“It’s going to be tough and I think I’m definitely not the favourite,” added Ennis-Hill. “There’s Brianne Theisen and I think Katarina Johnson-Thompson – she had her disappointments last year – is going to want to come back and make amends for what happened in Beijing.
“It’s hard to say a favourite at this stage in the year. I think all the girls and myself are competing, it’s a difficult one to call.”