Why Jessica Ennis-Hill’s latest accolade is so important

Jess Ennis-Hill, an inspiration to the young
Jess Ennis-Hill, an inspiration to the young
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There she is; our little lass, up there on the winners’ podium yet again...

This time, the Yorkshire whippet has streaked past giants and history-makers.

Jessica Ennis-Hill has been voted the most inspirational figure in the world - ever. She wupped Mother Theresa; the saintly nun came in 58th. President Obama was 31st, just ahead of Albert Einstein.

She even beat Nelson Mandela; he took silver. Martin Luther King got bronze and Gandhi came in fourth in the Inspiration Index poll, which was voted for by 16 to 24 year-olds and marks Starbucks’ fourth Youth Action campaign, which encourages young people to carry out projects in their community.

Pah, merely a list that merely illustrates what under-25s don’t know or care about? Hold that latté right there, you condescending twerp. Under 25 year-olds make up half our UK workforce. They are future parents; potentially future leaders. They MATTER. And so does this report: they are of an age when they can still be shaped by having amazing people to look up to.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs shaped the way their world works, not to mention their index fingers, but the YPs still voted Jess above them. Ditto other youth icons like Leonardo Di Caprio (and I did so worry teens would glorify the worshipping of greed depicted in his Wolf Of Wall Street).

A third of the inspirational figures on their list are female, I note. How heartening that women are now accepted as strong role models. But what else is it about our Olympic heptathlete that gets, them, right there?

It’s how she took herself from ordinary to extra-ordinary. The Northern schoolgirl, who got picked on because her dad was black and her mum was white, ignored all that and honed her body and mind to world-class level - using nothing but her own willpower, She makes the young realise that, if you’re determined and dedicated enough, you can step up to any podium you set your cap at.