Sheffield golden girl honoured at palace

Jessica Ennis receives her Commander of the British Empire (CBE) medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace today.
Jessica Ennis receives her Commander of the British Empire (CBE) medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace today.
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THE queen of British athletics met the British queen today as Sheffield golden girl Jessica Ennis visited Buckingham Palace.

The London 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion was in London, accompanied by fiance Andy Hill, for her investiture after being appointed a CBE in the New Year honours.

Nicola Adams receives her Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal from the Queen.

Nicola Adams receives her Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal from the Queen.

Jess, of Dore, was honoured for her service to athletics after winning the gold medal, having been made an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2011 after winning world championship gold in 2009.

Speaking before the today’s ceremony, the former pupil at King Ecgbert School in Dore and Sharrow Primary School said: “I’m very excited to be heading to Buckingham Palace.”

However, she admitted she was so nervous she has forgotten what the queen said to her during the ceremony.

Jess, wearing an Antonio Berardi dress, said: “I’m feeling very excited, though it was nerve-wracking before. It’s incredible to receive this.”

Sir David Brailsford receives his knighthood from the Queen.

Sir David Brailsford receives his knighthood from the Queen.

Asked what the Queen said, Ennis replied: “You know when you’re so nervous and you forget? She just said the summer was amazing, ‘how’s training going’, so it was very, very nice.

“Training is going well. I’ve had a bit of a cold, so had a few days off, but I’ve been training hard the past few weeks, it’s going well.”

Jess was at the centre of a feel-good summer last year as Team GB made the nation proud with its Olympics medal haul.

“It still doesn’t feel real, to be honest,” she said. “It was just an amazing year for British athletics and British sport and to be part of that in such a big way was incredible.”

And 2013 will be another big year as the athlete is set to marry Mr Hill in the spring.

“It’s an exciting year again, with lots of planning and things to look forward to,” she said.

Asked how many children they would like, she said: “I don’t know. I definitely want a family in the future but still have a little bit more I want to achieve athletics-wise.

“I don’t know, we’re not sure. We can’t share that with the world, it’s private. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Today’s ceremony saw honours go to a collection of athletes for their achievements as part of Team GB at London 2012, including long jump champion Greg Rutherford and boxing gold medal winner Nicola Adams, who were both made MBEs.

Nicola, aged 30, who trains in Sheffield, said beforehand: “I’m over the moon, really excited.”

Sir David Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling, was given a knighthood for services to cycling and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The 48-year-old, who completed an MBA at Sheffield University’s management school, said: “I’m honoured.

“It means so much and is such a humbling experience. I’m very proud.

“The Queen congratulated me on my birthday, which is actually on the 29th, which made her chuckle. I’m 49.

“We talked about the Olympics and how proud everyone was and what a great event it had been.”

Sir David said he felt warm inside when he thought of the cyclists’ achievements.

He said: “I have seen their development for many, many years and all the background work, all the laughter and the tears and the pain.

“It was fantastic for the country, of course, but particularly good for the riders and the sport of cycling itself.”