IT would be fair to say Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis has mixed memories of her only experience of the Commonwealth Games so far.
Back in 2006, Ennis was a 20-year-old university student when she was picked to represent England in the heptathlon in Melbourne, just a few months before her final exams. With her coach Toni Minichiello unable to afford to travel to Australia, Ennis was a bag of nerves in her first major senior event, which came with - in her words - team kit containing “an ill-fitting, baggy tracksuit that dwarfed me”.
Add in the fact that teammate Kelly Sotherton used her unwelcome nickname for Ennis, ‘Tadpole’, to the media for the first time, and it is no wonder that even the mild-mannered Ennis was annoyed. However, that annoyance was put to good effect as Ennis set four personal bests and was narrowly beaten to the silver medal by Australia’s Kylie Wheeler as Sotherton took gold.
Fast forward four years and Ennis decided not to compete in Delhi as the Commonwealth Games were being held too late in the year, although that did not stop her receiving a letter from one man accusing her of letting the whole country down.
That letter ended with the phrase “I will not be supporting you in 2012,” but Ennis won Olympic gold regardless and next year will hopefully receive another letter thanking her for competing in Glasgow.
That is because the 27-year-old has committed to competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games as she wants to “complete the set” of major championship medals after Olympic, World and European glory.
And that could also be the catalyst for a major career change as she contemplates swapping the heptathlon for the 100m hurdles - an event in which she set a British record of 12.54 seconds during the Olympics, which equalled that run by Dawn Harper to win individual gold in Beijing.
“I have just done a block of six weeks’ training which has gone well, but it was definitely hard getting back into it,” she said recently.
“You’re not as motivated as you were. Suddenly you’ve achieved everything you wanted, but you are still killing yourself in training. That’s a strange feeling.
“When I’ve been doing 800m sessions I have honestly thought, ‘Why am I still doing it?’ I still feel I can achieve a little bit more in the heptathlon, but I seriously want to do hurdles - it’s knowing the right time to make that decision.
“By the time the Commonwealth Games are done, that might be a good indication of how the body is holding up, whether I want to make the change.”