Jessica Ennis-Hill admitted she contemplated walking away from athletics altogether after becoming a mother, but she is now prepared to put in the hard work to challenge for major honours again.
Sheffield’s Ennis-Hill was one of the bigger success stories after winning gold in the heptathlon at London 2012 although she has had a near two-year competition absence due to the birth of son Reggie last summer.
The 29-year-old has been on the comeback trail over the last few months and will make her long-awaited return to competition in the 100-metre hurdles at the Great CityGames in Manchester on May 9.
Yet she revealed there have been times when she has pondered giving up, but does not want to regret what might have been
She said: “Before I had Reggie it was all about me, me, me. Now it is not me, Reggie comes before everything else but I am still really competitive, taking a back seat, watching everyone else compete. I want be there and be at my best again.
“I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been days when I thought: ‘I’m not sure I want to do this because this is really, really hard.’ I did feel like that. I thought: ‘I’ve already become Olympic champion, do I want all the stress and hard work again?’
“I know it’s going to be hard but I have to give it a go. I don’t want to look back and think: ‘Oh, maybe I could have done it.’ At least if I do it and I’m successful, fantastic. If I’m not quite where I want to be then I will still know that I have given it my best shot.”
Ennis-Hill intends to make her return to the heptathlon in Gotzis at the end of May, but she is not expecting immediate success.
“I feel like I am at the beginning of my career again, I’m back down here. It’s nice - and it’s not. In London I was there at the top. I have to work back up,” she said.
“This year is just about coming back - I want to get back into the swing of competing. It’s quite hard to know because I have never come from this situation before. I don’t feel like I’m a million miles away. I’m just not 100 per cent sure what it’s going to look like when it all comes together.”
The event in Austria will see Ennis-Hill come up against compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who has become one of the leading lights in her older rival’s absence.
Johnson-Thompson has long been touted as the natural successor to Ennis-Hill, whose British pentathlon record was broken by the 22-year-old at the European Indoor Championships in March.
Ennis-Hill only has warm words for her rival, adding: “I watched Kat and have seen how amazingly she has been doing. I’m incredibly impressed. She’s a nice girl and I hope she says the same about me.”