If at first you don’t succeed... Jess urges young athletes to never give up

Champion guest: Jessica Ennis with schoolchildren at their summer camp.    Picture: Steve Parkin
Champion guest: Jessica Ennis with schoolchildren at their summer camp. Picture: Steve Parkin
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World champion Jessica Ennis says children should ‘stick at it’ even if they find sport difficult.

Speaking at the launch of the Aviva Startrack programme, the scheme which introduced her to athletics, Ennis revealed that she ‘hated’ the heptathlon when she first tried it.

She said: “At a young age it is important to try different sports and events. You might want to be a 400 metre hurdler but then find out you’re rubbish at running, so try the high jump or events that you wouldn’t normally try.

“I don’t think you have to start worrying about training everyday and all these things. As long as you enjoy it then stick with it. It is so easy to drift away. I think you’d be surprised that you’re good at something you didn’t think you would be. I hated the heptathlon. I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t think I’d be any good at it. And that’s the point about trying things that you’re not good at. I didn’t start this (the heptathlon) when I was nine or 10.”

It’s difficult to believe that Ennis, aged 25, has been anything other than accomplished in any athletic endeavour. However, she says that it’s a contant battle to perfect several of the disciplines which make up the seven-event heptathlon.

She said: “I’m more of a natural sprinter. That comes easy to me – I just have that speed. The throwing events and long jump have taken years to get to grips with.

“I’m still trying to master those events. It is hard and very frustrating.”

City of Sheffield star Mukhtar Mohammed runs in the 800 metres at the Aviva Grand Prix meeting at Crystal Palace tonight.

Mohammed fell in his heat at the World Trials last weekend where he was expected to challenge for a medal. But on Tuesday he ran a personal best of 1:45.90 in Sweden. This weekend, he hopes to earn a place at the World Championships with an ‘A Standard’ time of 1:45.40.