Sheffield’s Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis has revealed she was bullied at school.
The 5ft 5 in tall athlete speaks of her experiences in her new memoir Unbelievable.
Jess has revealed it was her athleticism and small stature the bullies focused on.
The 26-year-old, a former pupil of Sharrow Primary and King Ecgbert School in Dore, said: “I was just different. I was such a scraggy little thing and there were these two big girls who just used to pick on me.”
She also admits her training made making friends hard.
Jess, of Millhouses, said: “Everyone else drifted away. Every year I’d be training with a different group, because people didn’t stick at it.”
The book suggests the experience of bullying in her childhood drove Jess on to achieve so much in her athletic career.
Jess said her mother Alison always sent her pre-competition texts - which she even sent before the Olympics races – and the message is still: “Don’t let those big girls push you around.”
The heptathlon is one of the most extreme events, made up of seven events – the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, the javelin and the 800m.
But Jess admitted her sweet and smiling exterior – which made her such a good ambassador for the London 2012 Games, can be deceiving.
She said: “I’m totally different when it comes to sport. It’s just something that seems to be within me. It’s not external or visual. But it’s within me.
“You have to be totally up for it and motivated, otherwise you just wouldn’t win. But it’s not something that a lot of people see, apart from maybe my family.”
Despite her success, fame and celebrity status, which she describes as ‘weird’, Jess has not taken her eyes off her athletics.
Her next goal, revealed by her coach Toni Minichiello, is to win a medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,
He said: “Jessica will be at Glasgow 2014, definitely.
“That is absolutely the competition plan for us looking ahead. She has not won the Commonwealth title before.”