Jess wants to make one big leap for gold

Leap year: Jessica Ennis hopes to add distance to her long jump
Leap year: Jessica Ennis hopes to add distance to her long jump
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There could be no better time than next year to make a giant jump forward for Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis.

Not only is 2012 a leap year, it is, of course, finally the time when the countdown to the London Olympic Games truly begins.

Ennis, aged 25, is only too aware of the challenges ahead if she is to become the golden girl in July at the Olympic Stadium.

She is already on record as saying that she will need to at least beat Denise Lewis’s British heptathlon high mark of 6,831 points to get the better of Russian world champion Tatyana Chernova.

With a personal best of 6,823 points to her name, Ennis is looking at ways of squeezing priceless extra points from the seven disciplines.

While many experts have pointed to the javelin as an area she can exploit, Ennis also wants to keep improving at the long and high jump.

She said: “I hope to find a few points in most events.

“There’s plenty to come from the javelin and a bit more in the long jump and high jump.”

A stress fracture injury before the 2008 Beijing Olympics meant the Millhouses-based Ennis had to change her take off leg in the long jump from her right to her left foot.

She admits that the swap still needs plenty of attention: “I’m still working on it, I can’t imagine going back to the other leg now, but there’s still some technical and flight issues that I need to work on.

“But I definitely feel comfortable jumping off that leg. It feels normal.”

While the gains that Ennis are hoping to make seen quite marginal she says she’s determined to keep the pressure on her closest rivals in every event.

She said: “I jumped 6.51m (a personal best) in Daegu so it’d be great to find another 10 or 15 centimetres. It’s not a lot but it does make a difference.

“Chernova is a good long jumper, and most of the heptathletes are good long jumpers. It’d be great to find a bit more there so I don’t lose so much to them.”

The most important thing for Ennis is obviously winning gold in London.

How many points that will take becomes irrelevant the second the medals are handed out.

Ennis is relaxed about naming a specific number, preferring to concentrate on making the most of her prodigious talent in each discipline.

She said: “Toni (Minichiello, her coach) might have a number, but I haven’t.

“I just think about each event and the maximum I have to get from it.”