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Sheffield’s Jess Ennis books in to tell her journey

  • by Jon Ball
 

Years of hard work came down to just two minutes.

Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis stood on the startline in the Olympic stadium, knowing she was 800m from glory.

All the blood, sweat and tears over the past 16 years came down to this.

The Olympics poster girl had shrugged off the weight of expectation to build a commanding lead in the heptathlon.

Now, she was one race from her goal.

The stadium hushed, the gun sounds and the race begins.

Roared on by 80,000 fans in the stadium and millions more watching on TV and big screens across the country, Jess summoned enough energy to win the race, the competition – and the title Olympic champion.

Now she has revealed the hard work, heartache, sweat and tears, highs and lows on her journey from Sharrow Junior School to Olympic glory in her new autobiography, Unbelievable – From My Childhood Dreams to Winning Olympic Gold.

Recalling the race, she says: “As I move forwards, I hear the crowd erupt. I feel I am being carried along. Close Now. It is just another home straight, but it is a foreign and alien one.

“There are no consolation prizes. I want to put on a show and thank the crowd for their support.

“I want it to be a great finish to the two days and I want that feeling of crossing the line first.

“So I run and run and I win. I am the Olympic champion,”

The 26-year-old admits she is still on a high from winning and has suffered none of the post-competition anti-climax she was warned about.

“I came back to Sheffield on a high,” she says. “A lot of people said there is a sense of anti-climax when you finally reach your goal, that attaining all you’d ever wanted left a strange feeling of emptiness.

“I was glad to find I did not experience that at all. I could not stop smiling and felt enormous satisfaction and pride.

“I knew it was the best time of my life and nothing would ever top it.”

It is this high which helped Jess put together her book.

She admits she has enjoyed looking back at her success and her journey to the top.

“It’s been good, it’s been nice,” she tells The Star.

“I’ve put quite a lot of effort into the book. It’s nice it’s finished.

“Before the Games, I was focused on the Olympics and not having distractions and not wanting to look back.

“But it’s been fun looking back over the years of my life.

“It’s amazing to have a book and for it to be out now.”

However, at the age of just 26, the former pupil at King Ecgbert School in Dore admits this is very much just the first chapters of her life.

“I don’t think every 26-year-old can say they have done what I have in the last few years,” she says.

“It’s all about my journey put into my own words.

“It’s just been nice to reflect back on memories I have not thought about for a long time.”

Racism, drugs, bullying and body image issues are all touched upon in the book.

Jess talks about the bullying she suffered at school, the racism her Jamaican father endured on arriving in Britain in the 1960s and the drugs scandals surrounding her sport, as well as the ‘fat-gate’ scandal.

The issue threatened to overshadow her preparations for the Olympics after a ‘high-ranking athletics coach’ reportedly said Jess was out of condition and carrying too much weight.

Jess says: “It was irritating because it was another distraction. Olympic year threw up lots of different challenges and, in any other year, issues like this would not have gained anything like the same attention.”

However, the Sheffield University graduate says she hopes readers will take a positive message from the book, after she overcame those obstacles to reach the very top of her sport.

“Not everyone’s going to be Olympic champion, but they may start different sports and hopefully people can relate to things in the book.”

Jess is now looking to the future.

She admits it has been hard getting back into training, but she has a wedding – to construction worker Andy Hill – to look forward to, while her coach has confirmed she will compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“I do want to have a family and hopefully that will come, but let’s take one thing at a time,” she says. “Athletics is going well, we’ll see where I am going and how it’s looking to develop. I am very happy at the moment.”

Unbelievable, by Jessica Ennis, is out now published by Hodder & Stoughton, £20.

All about Jess

Jessica Ennis was born in Nether Edge Hospital, Sheffield, on January 28, 1986, wighing 6lb 8oz

She attended Sharrow Junior School and King Ecgbert School in Dore

She graduated with a 2:2 in psychology from Sheffield University in 2007

She lives in Millhouses with her fiancé, Andy Hill, and pet labrador, Myla

Jess’ winning points total at London 2012 was a Commonwealth record

She set a British 100m hurdles record of 12.54secs at London 2012

She has gold medals from the 2007 European Cup, 2009 World Championships, 2010 European Championships, 2010 World Indoor Championships and 2012 Olympics

 

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