THE PROUD mum of Sheffield’s star heptathlete and team GB poster girl Jess Ennis has spoken of her excitement at the forthcoming Olympics.
Speaking ahead of this summer’s London games, drug and alcohol manager Alison Powell said she could not be prouder of her daughter, adding Jess’s stubborn and single-minded approach to competition and training has made her the athlete she is today.
Alison was being interviewed as part of the P&G Thank You Mum campaign for a series called Raising an Olympian, which looks at what it is like to raise a world-class athlete through the eyes of the competitors’ mothers.
Alison, who also has another daughter Carmel with her partner Vinnie Ennis, said she once thought her daughter’s selfish streak was a character flaw that could hold Jess back.
She said: “I did worry at one point that she was quite selfish. And it’s only as time has gone on that I’ve realised that’s what makes her so successful. I’m really excited for her, I mean for it to be a home Olympic Games is incredible.
“I just want her to do the best that she can and be happy with that. She can’t influence what the other athletes do; she can only do the best that she can do.”
Alison, who lives with Vinnie in Highfield, Sheffield, said: “Jessica is so, so positive. If she wants something she’ll go out and get it and that has taught me a lot, because I don’t think I always had that kind of inspiration to be able to those things, so just watching her achieve has opened my own mind up to what I can do.
“Lots of people used to tell me how much natural ability she had and there were one or two people who said she could go a long way in athletics, but I was a bit cautious.
“I had nothing to compare it to and so I wasn’t certain if they were telling the truth and I suppose I wanted to be protective of Jessica and to make sure people weren’t building her hopes up too much.”
Alison said she remembers introducing Jessica and Carmel to athletics when she took them to a summer camp at Don Valley Stadium.
She said: “It was simply a fun athletics camp for kids and it was just for two weeks in the summer. We joke about it now, because we talk about it being cheap childcare. Jess absolutely took to it like a duck to water – she wanted to do everything and she wanted to win everything.
“Carmel comparatively just wanted to sit in the background and chat and have a laugh with friends. For me it’s been about understanding your kids and trying to draw out the strengths as individuals.
“I think Jess was born with her determination, her desire to achieve and I think it has been my job to nurture that.
“Quietly I’m really, really proud. I can be walking down the street and think ‘yeah my daughter is a world champion and that’s enough for me’.
Jess, poster girl for Team GB’s medal charge at the London 2012 Olympic Games, burst on to the international athletics stage in 2006, winning a bronze at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
She went on to land European Championship gold in Barcelona in 2010, World Indoor gold and silver, World Championship silver in Daegu in 2011 and most memorably World Championship gold in Berlin in 2009.
n Log on to www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wBZ6PiCnd4 to watch Alison’s interview.
n Dive of destiny: P52