Sheffield web wizard Phil is pure gold for Jess

Phil Parkin who has worked on Jess Ennis's website
Phil Parkin who has worked on Jess Ennis's website
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WHEN Jessica Ennis steps on to the track on Friday to begin her gold medal Olympic campaign, millions of eyes all around the world will be on the Sheffield heptathlete.

But none more so, perhaps, than Sheffield filmmaker Phil Parkin - creator of Ennis’ official website www.jessicaennis.net - who will be hoping it doesn’t crash.

Phil, from Stannington, was introduced to Ennis in 2005 by Star sports writer Richard Fidler because he was looking for ideas for a documentary.

Since then he has chronicled her rise to fame, filming training sessions and competitions and recording the ups and downs of her career.

Phil studied Communication Studies at Sheffield Hallam University before doing an internship at CBS television in Pittsburgh USA, while studying for a Masters in English. Initially a freelance film maker, he set up his company Quick Feet Productions at Kelham Island, in 2006.

Phil said: “Since 2005 we have been working with Jess and Tony Miniciello, her coach, doing video and web work.

“It was the video stuff we first got involved with and we developed her first official website to house the videos so they could be shared with the athletics community. As the demands and her profile changed the website has evolved and it is now in its third incarnation.”

Phil counts himself as a member of Team Jennis - Jess’ inner circle which also includes Tony, her physio, her masseuse and her agent.

Although Phil normally concentrates on film production and directing, he is the only person allowed behind the camera to film Jess.

He said: “She trusts me and I know what we can and can’t film.”

He said the website started to take ‘heavy duty hits’ in 2008 when Jess got injured in Beijing - and in 2009, when she won the World Championships, the site crashed.

“Not one to miss an opportunity, I contacted the BBC and told them Jess’ website had crashed and that was broadcast on TV,” laughed Phil.

“This time last year we were getting 12,000 unique visitors a month, now it is 12,000 a week. We have just got a new server to cope with the demand.”

The site was set up thanks to funding from The University of Sheffield and two of its students now work as interns.

Phil said: “We went to them for a little bit of funding and they gave us support in the early years when nobody knew who Jess was. ”

Phil, aged 34, has also had a busy year away from work, and has become a dad for the first time with fiancee Anna Smith.

And their eight-month-old daughter Mabel has already made quite an impression on Jess.

Phil said: “We took her to Barnsley to watch Jess in the Yorkshire Championships and she had a cuddle.

“When it was time to go, Mabel decided to be sick on Jess’ hand! She was fine about it, thankfully.”

He and Anna will be going to watch Jess in action on Saturday.

Phil said: “My hope for Jess is that she gets the medal she deserves. She has worked so hard for it and I have watched that over the last seven years.”