The women’s heptathlon is one of the most eagerly awaited event of the Olympic Games, bringing together superstars Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
The Sheffield athlete, now aged 30, defends the title she won so spectacularly in London.
Liverpools’s Johnson-Thompson, 23, has a sparkling career ahead of her.
Putting together a theoretical contest where both athletes are scored on their legal (ie not wind assisted) outdoor personal best performances, the following emerges (we think!)
Event 1. 100 metres hurdles.
Ennis Hill, 12.54 (1195 points)
Johnson-Thompson, 13.37 (1069 points).
This is Ennis-Hill’s best event and it is vital that she kick starts the competition with a good performance as she did in London where she clocked her fastest time. Johnson-Thompson is no slouch and her best time was set this year, suggesting that there is better to come.
Event 2. High Jump
Ennis-Hill 1.95 (1171)
Johnson-Thompson 1.95 (1171)
Score after two events: Ennis-Hill 2366; Johnson-Thompson 2240)
Ennis-Hill has jumped almost a foot greater than her own height, a differential only ever beaten by six athletes in the world. The problem for Ennis-Hill is that her 1.95 was set nine years ago and she is unlikely to reach that level again, whereas her rival has achieved that height this year.
Event 3. Shot
Ennis-Hill 14.67 (839)
Johnson-Thompson 13.14 (737)
Score after three events: Ennis-Hill 3205; Johnson- Thompson 2977
It is bizarre that one of Ennis-Hill’s weakest events (the other is the javelin) is where she can steal a march on her rival whose lack of upper body strength restricts her in this discipline. Ennis, who has produced a 14.79 performance indoors, could well get to the 15 metres mark.
Event 4. 200 metres
Ennis-Hill 22.83 (1096)
Johnson-Thompson 22.79 (1100)
Score after four events: Ennis-Hill 4301; Johnson-Thompson 4077
There is nothing between them here although Ennis-Hill ran her fastest time in London 2012 whilst Johnson-Thompson did her best time this year.
On the basis of personal best performances, Ennis-Hill would have a healthy lead at the end of the first day.
Event 5 LongJump
Ennis-Hill 6.63 (1049)
Johnson-Thompson 6.92 (1145)
Score after five events: Ennis-Hill 5350; Johnson-Thompson 5222
This event could be the decider. Johnson-Thompson is outstanding but she had three no jumps in last year’s Worlds Championships which effectively ended her challenge. Neither was she anywhere near her best in Gotzis this year. Ennis-Hill finds this a difficult event, partly due to due to changing her take off leg twice following injury but she did a superb 6.63 in Ratingen this year, reflecting her undoubted ability in this event.
Event 6. Javelin
Ennis-Hill 48.33 (828)
Johnson-Thompson 42.01 (706)
Score after six events: Ennis-Hill 6178; Johnson-Thompson 5928
Ennis-Hill’s weakest event but she is now more consistent than in the past and could well get to the 50 metre mark. It is even weaker for Johnson-Thompson
Event 7. 800 metres
Ennis-Hill 2:07.81 (997)
Johnson-Thompson 2:07.64 (1000)
Final score: Ennis-Hill 7175; Johnson-Thompson 6928
There is nothing between them in this event but Ennis-Hill always looks as though she could find a bit extra if she needed to.
So, a winning margin 147 looks good for Ennis-Hill.
In an actual heptathlon, her best is 6955, the UK record, compared to Johnson-Thompson’s 6682. On this year’s scores the difference is even greater in Ennis-Hill’s favour.
In Johnson-Thompson’s favour is that her personal best in four of the seven events have been set this year against one by Ennis-Hill.
In terms of consistency, Ennis-Hill is streets ahead and, whilst she might occasionally underperform in individual events, she never does across the board. Johnson-Thompson’s last two heptathlons have been stuttering affairs, her no-jumps in the year’s World Championships ruining her medal chances as well as doing nothing for her confidence and this year’s competition in Gotzis being unimpressive.
All things considered, the evidence points to Ennis-Hill having the edge, but others might well have a say in the destination of the title, most notably Brianne Theison-Eaton from Canada. Runner up to Ennis-Hill in last year’s World Championships, she is world leader this year and has a personal best of 6808. After two World Championships silver medals she will be looking to nail a global title at last with the added incentive of making it a family double. Her husband Ashton is one of the hottest favourites of the games in the men’s decathlon.
The timetable is as follows
100 hurdles: Friday 1:35pm; High Jump: 2:50pm; Shot 0:35am; 200: 2:05am
Long jump: 3:45pm; Javelin: midnight; 800:2:50am.