DESPITE her London 2012 golden girl tag taking a hit last year, Olympic champion Darren Campbell has backed Sheffield multi-event star Jess Ennis to bounce back in style in the capital.
Due to a combination of good looks and a bulging medal cabinet – containing world indoor and outdoor medals as well as the European heptathlon title – Ennis was installed as the face of the Games. However, claiming only silver at the World Championships in Daegu last summer ensured Ennis’ star had somewhat waned.
The manner with which 6ft 2ins Russian Tatyana Chernova demolished Ennis – just 5ft 5in – in the Korean heat only served to add to the doubts about the Sheffield heptathlete’s golden potential. However Campbell insists the defeat was ‘perfectly’ timed to fuel her London 2012 desire.
“Jess and her coach Tony Minichiello are very experienced and have got a fantastic relationship,” said Campbell. “Coaches and athletes are always learning and what happened in Daegu was a big learning curve for Jess. I have spoken to them about it and the reality is it’s better that it happened last year than at London.
“Now Jess is going into the Olympics without any surprises – we knew Chernova was a very competitive athlete and that Jess was going to have to pull out a something special and it is going to be the same in London.
“But Jess is extremely focused now. We were tweeting the other Saturday and she was talking about how cold it was when she was training but she is enjoying that.
“She’ll keep working hard and trying to improve what she needs to improve and try and make it perfect.”
Chernova’s bullying display in Daegu aside the only other question mark that exists for Ennis is the perennial concern over her body. A fractured ankle saw her miss the last Olympics in Beijing while the 26-year-old was also ruled out of last year’s European Indoor Championships with a foot problem. But while quick to acknowledge the slight concern over the impact of training for seven events week-in-week-out Campbell believes the Sheffield ace will be fine for London.
Campbell said “The only slight worry with her is injury but if she can stay injury free then she will definitely win a medal. The reality is that the one she wants is gold and if she gets it right in London then she can get one.”
Darren Campbell was speaking at the Newport leg of the ‘nearest & dearest’ roadshow in partnership with P&G – supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012. Visit www.pgproudsponsorofmums.co.uk