Domestic rivals pals off track, says Jessica

Jessica Ennis insists her relationship with fellow Great Britain heptathlete Kelly Sotherton is good on and off the track.

The Sheffield-born star fell short by a whisker of picking up her first medal at the world championships this month, as Sotherton beat her to third place.

Speculation is rife that Sotherton will quit athletics after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but Ennis is unsure of what might happen.

The 21-year-old said: "There has been a bit of talk that Kelly will retire after next year but she might go and do really well and keep going. Who knows what will happen?

"We are competitors on the track but there was no rivalry off it. The media like to make it into a 'Jessica versus Kelly' fight but it was never like that.

"I spent a lot of time with Kelly and I get on with her really well."

Another Sheffield golden girl, Becky Lyne, will defend her BUPA Great North Mile road race title in Newcastle tomorrow. Lyne, whose season was almost ruined by a leg injury, was controversially selected ahead of Jenny Meadows for the recent World Champion-ships 800 metres in Japan.

However, a recurrence of a calf injury sustained warm-weather training in Australia forced her to pull out.

Lyne wants to salvage something from a frustrating year in Newcastle.

The UK Women's Athlete of the Year added: "It was so good to win last year.

"I felt real joy after the success."