Athletics: High hopes for Jess’ mates this summer

Glasgow 2014 ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill. Pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Glasgow 2014 ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill. Pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
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To the rest of the world she was the face of the London Olympic Games - to her training group she’s just Jess.

Unbelievably successful at what she does, but no favour is ever asked or given as she trains alongside the rest of coach Toni Minichiello’s group at the English Institute of Sport, Don Valley Stadium and now Woodbourn Road.

Karla Drew trains with Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Karla Drew trains with Jessica Ennis-Hill.

And now Jessica Ennis-Hill finds herself in a unique position - no longer at the front of the pack in training runs or lifting increasingly heavy weights that belie her stature.

She’s got the best excuse anyone could possibly have in taking it easy, of course.

Ennis-Hill and husband Andy’s first child is due in July but that doesn’t stop the ribbing and mickey-taking when she gets together with the likes of decathlete John Lane, hurdler Karla Lane and sprinter Louise Bloor under the tutelage of Minichiello.

“They’re saying ‘is that all you’re doing?’” Ennis-Hill jokes about the tapering down of her training programme as he body changes.

“I’m still training regularly because I can’t just stop doing it and I also think it’s important to my overall health and the baby’s to keep fit.

“I’m listening to my body; I don’t do too much but I want to keep myself in the best condition as I can.”

The likelihood is that it will be well into 2015 before Ennis-Hill can seriously consider performing at the top level.

Even that may be an optimistic time-line for the 28-year-old, who wants to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A year of injury blighted her season in 2013 so it will be the best part of three years since her golden night at the Olympic Stadium until she is able to not only take to the track but take to the track to win.

Because, make no mistake, Ennis-Hill doesn’t like to lose. She told The Star yesterday it was difficult to watch the world’s best heptathletes gather in Poland recently for the World Indoor Championships.

This summer the former King Ecgbert and University of Sheffield student would have been bidding to win Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow.

Instead she’ll be most likely juggling looking after her baby with watching her mates on the television.

Lane, after a brilliant start to the season, which included an indoor British record, is already qualified.

The Games also offer a good chance for Sheffield Hallam University student Drew, pictured, and Bloor to make appearances in a major championships.

Ennis-Hill said: “John has had a great start to the year. He’s in really good form.

“Karla has switched full-time from the heptathlon to the hurdles - it would be great to see her do well. And Louise always trains incredibly hard. I hope they all make the team.”

Another, 18-year-old triple jumper and 200m sprinter, Nikita Campbell-Smith, who is in the final year of her A Levels at Silverdale School, may focus on the World Junior Championships rather than Glasgow.

But all have one of the world’s best athletics coaches in Minichiello and a mentor in Ennis-Hill.

“I’m definitely not ready to be a coach,” she laughs when asked if she’d help out Minichiello. “I’ve too much time left as an athlete. But it’s good to be part of the group. I try and train at the same time.”

Jess, the Queen of track and field, has other duties to attend to but under her watchful eye the rest of the Sheffield athletic kingdom is aiming to conquer Glasgow.