Ex-champ is ready for Jess to take over

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Former Olympic champion Denise Lewis accepts it is only a matter of time before Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis breaks her British heptathlon record.

Last week, Ennis made a triumphant return to action after nearly two months out injured by storming to victory at the Hypo Meeting in Austria with 6,790 points.

Ennis’ world number one status and two-year unbeaten record were both on the line and she responded by posting the second-highest score of her career.

Lewis’ 11-year-old British record stands at 6,831 points and looks increasingly vulnerable as Ennis gears up for the London Olympics.

“The British record is there to be broken. Jess has come close several times,” she acknowledged.

“There may be a couple more months where I can hold on to it - but it will go.

“I adore Jess and want her to do well. She’s just an amazing athlete, a formidable competitor. With the prospect of the Olympics around the corner, if she keeps healthy and keeps her head down she can be walking away with a gold medal this time next year.

“We need role models in the sport.

“I have had my time, someone else needs to come through to inspire the next generation of athletes and heptathletes.”

Ennis has been considering whether to enter the 4x100 metre hurdles at the Olympics.

Lewis is not against the idea but she warned Ennis not to allow anything to distract her from becoming Olympic champion.

“First things first, win that heptathlon title and see how you feel,” said Lewis. “Once she has got the heptathlon out the way, who knows?

“She will find that if she does win, she will be caught up in the whole journey of what it is like to be a champion.

“She may feel mentally exhausted but on the reverse of that she may feel ‘let’s have a go’.”