Sheffield’s golden girl lands top award

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SHEFFIELD’S golden girl Jess Ennis was crowned Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year last night.

The 27-year-old, who won gold in the Heptathlon during London’s Olympic Games last summer, was honoured at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

She said she had experienced ‘highs and lows’ since winning her gold medal.

Her coach Toni Minichiello has lost his full-time job with UK Athletics since the Olympics and her training base in Sheffield, Don Valley Stadium, is to be demolished later this year.

Ennis revealed that she initially struggled for motivation in training after the Olympics, but said her drive is back as she looks ahead to the World Championships in Russia in August.

Speaking in Rio de Janeiro - where the 2016 Olympics will be held - Jess said: “There have been a few ups and downs, but you have those.

“Last year was just an incredible high, and things have happened since, but we are just trying to keep our heads down, focus and look towards the Worlds.”

Commenting on the proposed closure of Don Valley Stadium to save Sheffield Council, the heptathlete said: “I was shocked, but at the same time it is one of those really difficult situations where all these cuts are being made, and I know Don Valley loses a hell of a lot of money each year.

“It was a great stadium, but it has not been used as much as we perhaps thought it would be.

“It is just going to be really sad to lose it because it is such an iconic stadium, and that is partly why I got involved in athletics - because I had that track there.”

The council has proposed that the nearby, smaller Woodbourn Road Stadium be reopened, work Ennis has stressed needs to be done “properly”.

She said: “If you see Woodbourn Road at the moment, it is in a terrible state and it needs to be done properly.

“It needs a lot of work doing to it, but if we get the funding to do it, it will be good.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about it and seeing how it develops and what it is going to be like. I am happy to have input and offer bits of advice where I can.”

Sheffield-born Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the organising committee for London 2012, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Laureus Awards.