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Star Sport comment: Our Golden Girl deserves better than this mess

Olympic champion: Jessica Ennis was unstoppable in London

Olympic champion: Jessica Ennis was unstoppable in London

  • by Richard Fidler Comment
 

IT was a sunny day a few summers ago when I was chatting to Jessica Ennis about Twitter, writes Richard Fidler.

The venue was Woodbourn Road and her coach, Toni Minichiello, was a few yards away putting the final touches to the training session he was about to run.

At the time Jess was a successful athlete but nothing like the sporting and fashion icon she has become.

She didn’t know whether to start a Twitter account, if people would be interested in following her or what she’d say if she did.

A few things struck me as I mentioned that conversation to her yesterday and the biggest one wasn’t that Ennis is now in a super-group of sports stars with more than one million followers on Twitter.

It was how things have changed behind the scenes for her. Far from having improved circumstances to support her quest to add World Championship gold this year to the Olympic one she won last summer she is being hampered at every stage.

First Woodbourn Road is closed down and allowed to fester. Then news breaks that the venue that inspired her to take up athletics - Don Valley Stadium - is being considered for demolition.

And finally her long-time coach Minichiello is effectively unemployed after British Athletics changed their coaching structure.

It seems bizarre that the most successful sports woman of her generation can be in a position where her home city doesn’t even consult her before deciding they can do without Don Valley and her governing body would leave her coach in limbo.

Not that Ennis would expect treatment different to any other council tax payer or athlete, but maybe she has ideas.

Maybe, as someone who cares passionately about her city and her sport, she is in a good position to know what worked for her and what will work for others in the future.

Ennis has phenomenal mental strength and will use any adversity to make herself stronger. She won’t complain; she’ll just keep winning.

But with support that elected officials can only dream of, maybe it’s time her opinion was sought.

* Follow The Star sports writer Richard Fidler on Twitter @richardfidler. For breaking news keep checking The Star website or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar or Twitter at www.twitter.com/sheffieldstar

 

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