UP, up and not quite away - this beautiful balloon should have taken Sheffield’s Olympic medal hopes for golden girl Jessica Ennis soaring into the skies.
But heavy cloud meant the craft was allowed only a few feet up from the grassy fields behind Jess’ old school King Ecgbert in Totley before having to be bumped back down again.
Organisers of the launch always said the event was ‘weather dependent’ - and, because dark rain clouds above the balloon may have been stormy, that risk just couldn’t be taken.
Totley dad David Mitchell, whose wife Debra is a cleaner at the school, had taken his family along hoping to see the launch which had been organised by the National Lottery to mark Jess’ first day on the athletics field in London.
He said: “It is one of those things isn’t it. All in all it was a great experience to see such national interest and support for Jess Ennis from a big organisation like the lottery.
“It is a bit of a shame but, never mind.”
Mum-of-three Jo Ashman, who took her sons to see the tethered balloon, said: “I thought it was really good just to see the balloon there. It would have been lovely to see it take off though.”
As heptathlete Jess prepared to perform in the shot put under the glare of London 2012, her former teachers and fans were echoing the balloon’s message ‘Good Luck Jess’.
All were confident the 26-year-old will succeed.
Her former English teacher Ian Rouse, who has worked at King Ecgbert for 30 years, said: “I’m just crossing my fingers that she will get a gold!
“I was really nervous watching her in the hurdles and thought ‘please don’t have a false start’. I’m not a betting man but I would have thought she had a 75 per cent chance of getting gold.
“Jess was an absolutely smashing pupil, smart and hard working.
“The school is very proud of her - she is inspirational.”
School caretaker Ian Lamb, of Arbourthorne, was even more sure of glory.
The 40-year-old said: “I think she will win, 100 per cent. She is a legend and still a Sheffield lass and it’s great to work at the school where she began her education.
“I did speak to Jess when she visited the school a couple of months back and she was very excited about the Olympics.
“The kids admire her, right up to the Olympics starting it’s been all about Jess.
“Hopefully she will come back and bring a medal with her.”
Jess receives funding from the National Lottery to train.
The balloon is touring the UK during the Olympic Games to wish good luck to some of the nation’s biggest medal hopefuls.