Jessica Ennis-Hill sounded a positive note about her fitness as she began the build-up to the defence of her Olympic title in Rio with a low-key performance in the javelin in Loughborough yesterday.
The 30-year-old, competing for the first time since winning gold at last year’s World Championships in Beijing after an Achilles problem ruled her out of the indoor season, recorded a best throw of 41.69 metres at the Loughborough International Athletics match.
That she finished last in the eight-strong field was of little significance given the discipline is her weakest, but the distance was well down on her personal best of 48.33m. Her best throw last year was 43.88m, also recorded in Loughborough last May.
However, it was the Sheffield athlete’s participation that offered the greatest reason for cheer, nine months since her last competition and only 12 weeks until the heptathlon gets under way in Rio.
The injury-hampered preparation for the season has already forced Ennis-Hill to miss next weekend’s prestigious heptathlon at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis and left her playing catch-up if she is to return to top form in time for Rio, for which she has already qualified.
Speaking after competing in Loughborough, she said on Sky Sports News: “My Achilles feels really good and the work that I’ve done with the medical team and the rehab and just making sure we get it right has really worked.”
There was a splendid long jump win for Daniel Gardiner (City of Sheffield and Dearne) who recorded a personal best of 7.86. City of Sheffield combined eventers Karla Drew and John Lane were in good form in the hurdles, Drew finishing runner up in the women’s race in a personal best of 13.36 and Lane winning the men’s B race in 14.31
Chesterfield’s Alicia Barrett won the guest B 100 hurdles in 13.91 whilst her sister Ella crossed the line first in the B 400 metres in a fast time of 55.18 only to be disqualified for a lane infringement.
A guest 400 metres was won by Leeds City’s Yorkshire junior champion Connor Wood in 47.46 with City of Sheffield’s Liam Ramsay clocking 47.71 in second place.
City of Sheffield’s Joe Dunderdale was an impressive winner of the javelin with a throw of 72.17 whilst Adam Hague (City of Sheffield) was below his best in the pole vault with 5.15, beaten by Middlesborough’s Charlie Myers, with Sheffield’s Nick Cole third.
Hallamshire’s Bertie Houghton had a fine run in the 3000 metres steeplechase. He was second in 8:58.58, almost snatching the verdict.