Jess advised to toughen up in her bid for London gold

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Ex-Olympic sprint champion Cathy Freeman says Sheffield heptathlete Jessica Ennis must develop an even tougher exterior - almost a selfish streak - to help her deal with the pressures of expectation in winning gold in London.

Australian Freeman coped with similar stresses to win the 400 metres at Sydney 2000, and Ennis will carry British hopes in 2012.

“The spotlight will be on Jessica,” Freeman, now 38, told the BBC.

“She has to find a place where she can’t be touched.

“She knows what she wants and it must be achieved on her terms.”

Ennis, who uses yoga to harness body and mind, has been tipped for a gold medal at London, along with triple jumper Phillips Idowu and 400m hurdler Dai Greene.

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee set a target of eight medals for London after they managed to win seven at the World Championships this year.

Ennis had to settle for silver in Daegu but is focused on going one better when the Games begin next July.

Freeman commented: “You’re doing it for personal reasons. It should be celebrated and you should embrace it. There might be nerves creeping in and cracks appearing, but turn it around and use it to your advantage. Tennis legend Billie Jean King said ‘pressure is a privilege’. You have to enjoy yourself.”

Ennis has been nominated for best UK athletics performance of 2011 based on her silver medal in Korea.