Jessica Ennis is a class act whose consistency will pay dividends at the Olympics, according to her coach Toni Minichiello.
But Minichiello also concedes a gold medal in the heptathlon could still be beyond his athlete’s control over the two days of competition in London. Ennis was a hot favourite for gold on home soil after winning world titles indoor and out in Berlin and Doha respectively and following that with another triumph at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010.
However, the Sheffielder has since lost both world titles in the space of seven months after inspired performances from two of her rivals, a situation which does give Minichiello pause for thought, despite his faith in Ennis’ abilities.
“She is a class act,” Minichiello said. “Every championships she has been to since 2009 she has been on the podium. She has been showing an upward profile and we are continuing that. I’m pleased with the progress we are making, but you can’t legislate for what others do. She was in great shape in Istanbul (world indoors) but suddenly Nataliya Dobrynska breaks the world record.
“That’s what Olympic year does. It goes steady and then there is this huge hike because people start to buzz. They think ‘This is the winter I need to get serious and need to train,’ and we’ve seen that from the indoors.
“We’ve seen improvements in some of our first-day events in the shot, the hurdles and an indoor personal best (PB) of 6.47 metres in the long jump and I’m hoping there is going to improvement across the board. Whether that’s going to be good enough I don’t know.
“She could score 6,900 points, which would be a British record and massive PB, and still finish second or third. There is nothing you can do about the opposition. ”
Ennis will contest her only full heptathlon before London at this weekend’s Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, where she is seeking a third straight win.
And with the 26-year-old’s main rivals for Olympic glory also on the start line, Minichiello admits the result on Sunday will be significant.
“Gotzis is closer to the Olympics than it has been to the major championships before; there is only about 11 weeks left, so your performance there is important,” he added. “Normally what happens is that whoever is in the top three or four there is going to be the top three or four in the Olympics.”