Coach Toni Minichiello believes Jessica Ennis-Hill will thrive on the challenge of being a mum and trying to win a second Olympics gold.
Whilst the 28-year-old’s peers are preparing for the Commonwealth Games this summer, Ennis-Hill is gearing up for a new era of caring for her child.
Despite Ennis-Hill’s life changing circumstances, Minichiello is aiming long term: medal success at the Rio Games.
Many hurdles lie ahead, but he has a positive mindset on her eventual return. “You have to put winning a (second) gold out there. We do not set out to lose, we have to set the bar high and you don’t start down that road to come second” he said.
“Of course there are complexities this time as any new mum will tell you – and when that little bundle arrives it will change Jess’ life forever and for her it will be about balancing everything.
“The baby makes the challenge different but is it any more difficult to what we have faced in the past? Probably not.
“It’s a very exciting time, and there is no aim to set out and just take it easy just because the landscape has changed.”
Ennis-Hill is aiming to compete at the World Championships in Beijing next year as a first step towards retaining her Olympic title in Rio in 2016.
There have been rumours the Sheffield woman may compete solely in the hurdles rather than the heptathlon.
“I don’t mind the speculation,” the coach joked. “Who knows we might be trying the hammer, because it begins with ‘h’ she has done hurdles, she has done heptathlon and we are only looking at events that begin with ‘h!’”
“Everything with Jess of course is subject to change right now - she is the mystery person coming back. But the process of mine and Jess’ discussion when the time comes will be around heptathlon because this is first and foremost her event.”
The heptathlon void is currently being filled by Katarina Johnson-Thompson who will go for Commonwealth gold next month.
The 21-year-old Briton scored a world-leading 6,682 points at the World Combined Events Challenge meeting in Gotzis at the beginning of June, setting a personal best to go third on the British all-time list behind Ennis-Hill (6,955 points) and 2000 Olympic champion Denise Lewis (6,831).
“Katarina is on the rise and should win the Commonwealth Games hands down,” said Minichiello.
“Pound for pound she is better than Jess at a younger age so if you compare them like for like Kat is head and shoulders above her and literally as well because she is that much taller than Jess.
“It’s going to be so interesting when Jess comes back. You will have a world class rivalry between two very different athletes.
“This makes it really exciting for the sport which we need to have in athletics right now because you will have two British athletes who are vying for the same prize. It is like the world cup and having two England teams.”