Retiring Jessica Ennis-Hill an 'exemplar for Sheffield and the nation'

Jessica Ennis-Hill has been described as an inspirational role model after announcing her retirement.
Jessica Ennis-Hill has been described as an inspirational role model after announcing her retirement.
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Sheffield Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill has been described as a 'role model' and an 'inspirational figure' after announcing her retirement from athletics.

The 30-year-old heptathlete revealed her decision on Instagram yesterday, calling it 'one of the toughest decisions I've had to make'.

But Jessica, who who added a silver medal at this year's games in Rio to her gold from London four years ago, said: "I know that retiring now is right.

"I've always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that.

"I want to thank my family and incredible team who have spent so much of their time supporting me and enabling me to achieve my dreams. Also a huge thank you to all those people who have supported and followed my career over the years."

Richard Caborn, a former sports minister, was among those to pay tribute to Jessica's achievements.

Jessica Ennis-Hill in Sheffield with her gold medal from the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Jessica Ennis-Hill in Sheffield with her gold medal from the 2012 London Olympic Games.

He said: "I want to congratulate Jessica on an outstanding career. She has been a fantastic athlete and a fantastic ambassador for the sport and her legacy will live on for many years to come.

“Her success has been a massive inspiration to the hundreds of thousands of youngsters who take part in sports camps, sports days and athletics sessions every year at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield where she trained.

“She’s consistently proved herself at the highest level and she should feel incredibly proud of all she’s done and achieved. She is an exemplar for Sheffield and the nation.

“We wish Jess all the very best for her retirement.”

Jessica Ennis-Hill at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield.

Jessica Ennis-Hill at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield.

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore added: “Sheffield is so very proud of Jess and her amazing achievements. She is one of the city’s greatest ever athletes and was awarded freedom of the city in 2013. She has been an inspiration to all in the city and her legacy will continue.

“We’ve followed her every step of the way on her journey to becoming one of Britain’s most successful female athletes. A great ambassador for sport, she has represented Sheffield and the UK with real grace and humility.

“She truly is a role model for so many people and we would like to wish her good luck and success in her future”.

Jessica still lives in Sheffield with her husband Andy and two-year-old son Reggie. She has already used the attention that came with her success to encourage more girls into sport, and hopes that her ability to be a mother and continue her career will inspire other mums to do the same.

Charlie Barker, of the Sheffield branch of the Women's Equality Party, said: "Jessica Ennis-Hill has been an inspirational figure for everyone.

"She has raised the profile of women in sport and as one of Sheffield’s most celebrated athletes we’re sad to hear of her retirement and wish her all the best for the future.

A pre-fame Jessica Ennis-Hill at home in Sheffield.

A pre-fame Jessica Ennis-Hill at home in Sheffield.

"She has made her mark in the sporting field and paved the way as a role model for the next generation. Sheffield is very proud of you Jess."

And the Sheffield girl's humility and easy-going personality have undoubtedly helped the city's reputation on the world stage.

Executive director of Sheffield Chamber Richard Wright said: "People will be sorry to hear that Jess is retiring for many reasons.

“She has been an inspiration to so many of us and by being the face of London 2012 she really raised the profile of Sheffield. My immediate reaction is ‘thank you very much for what you've done for all of us’."

Jessica has not yet revealed what she plans to do next. Mr Wright said: “I hope she doesn't retire from public life altogether.

"Jess is a genuine role model with an amazing personality in the world of sport and has the capability of being an important ambassador for that and our great city.

A young Jessica Ennis-Hill receives a sports award at Handsworth Grange School

A young Jessica Ennis-Hill receives a sports award at Handsworth Grange School

“We should also spare a thought for Toni Minichiello, her coach. He has been part of that journey and his life will change massively as well. He should be very proud of what they have achieved together because I know we as a city are very proud of them."

And David Barrett of Sheffield Hallam University’s Sports Industry Research Centre said: “Jess' decision to retire reflects her whole career, in that she has made a decision in her best interests.

"The very qualities of grit and determination which set her apart as an athlete are the same qualities which make her perfectly entitled to call time on her competitive involvement in athletics.

"She has won almost every major championship that there is to win, setting several records in the process, and has done so as a resolutely clean athlete. In an era when the sport of athletics has been desperate for heroes and heroines who the paying public can believe in, Jess has delivered time and again.

“But there's no reason why possibly the finest heptathlete of all time will necessarily walk away from athletics altogether.

"Seb Coe has already expressed the wish that she will stick around, and the organisers of the World Championships were quick to offer her the best seat in the house next year.

"As an ambassador for her sport, and for sport and healthy living in general, Jess has stood up to be counted over the years. And while the sponsorship contracts with international brands such as Adidas and Santander may change over time, an Olympic champion, especially in athletics, will always be attractive to advertisers and decision makers.”

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