JESSICA Ennis gave another unbelievable performance at the Aviva Indoor Grand Prix at Birmingham on Saturday. Ennis won the 60 metres hurdles in 7.87 seconds before going on to place third in the long jump with 6.47 metres.
Both were personal best performances with the hurdles particularly impressive. Last week in Sheffield she twice clocked 7.95s to equal her best time. At Birmingham she blew that time away to head the world rankings for this year. More significantly, she beat America’s Danielle Carruthers, silver medallist in last year’s World Championships at 100 metres hurdles.
Ennis got a good start but not quite as good as Carruthers but the Sheffield star got ahead coming off the first hurdles.
The hurdles is Ennis’s best event and one where she is truly world class. The long jump is more problematic. Her talent is not in doubt but she has lacked consistency. At Birmingham she started with a modest 5.91m from well behind the take off board. Thereafter she put together a consistent series. Hitting the board perfectly in round four, she added three centimetres to her indoor best with 6.47m. Fellow British athlete Shara Proctor, formerly of Anguilla, set a UK indoor record with 6.80m. Whilst no one in the Ennis camp will be prematurely counting chickens, it is clear that she is in the form of her life in the run up to the World Indoor Pentathlon in Istanbul which, in turn, is merely a stepping stone for her date with Olympic destiny in August. Ennis goes into the defence of her World Indoor title with the confidence of beating her performances in Doha two years ago in four events during successive weekends. Ennis said: “I didn’t expect to run that quickly at all. I feel in really good shape and the hurdles have been going really well. To run 7.94 or something like that I would have been really happy with, but to run that much under my PB is just brilliant! I could feel Danielle right there on my shoulder. It’s great to have that competitiveness and someone right there beside you, it pushes you on.
“I was buzzing after my race and I took that into my jumping, which was pleasing. I’ve been saying for a while that I need to get some consistency in my jumping.”
One favourite to come unstuck was distance star Mo Farah who had to settle for second place behind Olympic silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge in the two miles. In this rarely run distance, Farah broke the 10 year old UK record held by former Barnsley athlete John Mayock with his time of 8:08.07.
Richard Buck (City of York), a Sheffield athlete for British League events, had a superb run in the National 400 metres – effectively the B race – to win in 45.88s.
Running from the outside lane, Buck set off fast and held his lead on the second lap for a personal best.