THE road to Olympic glory starts for Jessica Ennis on Sunday in a humble Sheffield park.
The scene in Chelsea Park, Nether Edge, will be a far cry from the fervour of the Olympic Stadium in just over 300 days time as the city’s wondergirl goes for gold in the heptathlon.
Ennis, aged 25, had to settle for silver at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, last month. But she says the pain of losing her world title, and the agony of the hill climbs planned for the first few weeks of her training, will spur her on to produce a ‘bang on’ show in London.
“I’ll absolutely die and feel pain I think for the first couple of weeks,” she joked.
“I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m out of shape now and I want to get back into good shape.”
Ennis, who is an ambassador for Aviva, supporters of British athletes since 1999, said she has tried not to dwell on Daegu, but admits she could have won: “I look back at it individually and you see where it wrong.
“There is a frustration in that. I knew I could have done a lot better. I didn’t want to beat myself up. Devastation would have been fourth, not a silver medal.”
Time waits for no athlete, least of all one at the peak of her profession.
She said London will be on her mind right from day one of training: “This year has gone quick. There’s always something to aim for or tick off your list. Before you know it, it’s winter again and you’re preparing for the next year.
“They (the hill climbs) will be hard, but it (London) will be a different thing to think about. I’m saying it now, that when I feel tired I’ll be thinking ‘London’ but when I’m swimming in lactic acid and I’m knackered I’ll be thinking ‘forget London’! I hope it will be extra motivation. And also that I got silver and not gold.”
Ennis knows any mistakes in training or competing will be punished by her rivals: “I need a perfect two days. I can’t afford to have anything slightly weak; everything has to be bang on.
“For me, I’ll have to be in great physical shape and at the top of my game for those two days.”