FORMER world champion Jamie Baulch believes Jess Ennis’ silver medal in Daegu, South Korea, earlier this year is the best thing that could have happened to the golden girl of British athletics.
As she headed into this summer’s World Championships, an expectant British public had already mentally fast-forwarded 12 months and hung a London 2012 heptathlon gold medal around Ennis’ neck.
Ennis had been aiming to become the first Brit to get back-to-back titles at a World Championship, having won heptathlon gold in Berlin two years ago.
Instead the girl who had gone unbeaten for more than two years was forced to settle for silver after a desperate performance in the javelin effectively handed gold to 6ft 2ins Russian Tatyana Chernova.
While there was some disappointment for a public who has such high expectations, Ennis, in some ways, welcomed the reality check.
“You can be a great athlete but things go wrong or things don’t come together,” she said at the time. “Hopefully the public will see that it is tough to dominate major championships.”
Baulch is now convinced the ‘disappointment’ of silver is exactly what the doctor ordered as the Sheffield multi-eventer looks towards London 2012.
“I have felt sorry for Jess because everyone is already hanging the gold medal around her neck for next year but if Daegu has shown us anything it’s that is not the case,” said Notttingham-born Baulch who was official race starter at this month’s Lloyds TSB Cardiff Half Marathon.
“Her event is a really, really tough event, jam-packed with talented athletes and she’s not the greatest ever, yes she’s talented but it’s not a done deal by any margin,” said the one time sprint athlete now a 38-year-old TV presenter.
“I don’t look at her like you would a Daley Thompson where it was just a case of if he turned up the gold was his and that’s something the British public need to come to terms with.
“I’m sure Jess has come to terms with that long ago but that silver in Daegu might just turn out to be a real blessing in disguise both for her and the country.
“She’s not struggling mentally with the pressure of it all, the media hype etc. I think, she’s used to it all by now and she deserves to make hay while the going’s good. But going into Daegu people seemed to think she was nailed on for the gold and quickly we’re finding out that’s not the case.
“So with that in the back of her mind that really should spur her on to give it everything she has got between now and London 2012, to make sure she’s ready to go one better.”
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