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UK Athletics

The E-Inspire Athlete Interview - Jessica Ennis

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Jess Ennis in High Jump Action
Ennis: I can't wait to get jumping again
Speaking exclusively to E-Inspire, Ennis reveals how she coped when injury curtailed her summer, how she followed the heptathlon from her armchair and yearning to get back to full training.



THAT injury


I didn’t think it was that serious – I was so surprised to find out it was a stress fracture because there was no way it felt that bad – I’d had some physio treatment on it in Gotzis and it felt so much better straight after so I didn’t for one minute think it was too serious


It was such a shock – if it had felt worse perhaps I’d have had 24 hours to prepare myself to the idea that it might be more serious. I thought I was only pulling out as a precaution to protect the rest of the season – so I was taken aback with the news.


The BBC were out in Gotzis with me filming for Olympic Dreams and then they came back and were there when I had the scans. The crews were very good – I won’t pretend it was always easy having them there – when you are feeling worried, and not knowing what was happening then of course it’s not nice having a camera in your face but they were very nice about it and I have a good relationship with them so it wasn’t too bad in hindsight.


It was a horrible moment – I had my scans and then I was told by UKA’s head Doctor Paul Dijkstra and physio Neil Black. When I was told I held it together for a moment but then I burst out crying.  It was probably quite overwhelming for them to be sat there with a girl crying her eyes out not sure what to do.  Ten minutes later I was out of there and I think the BBC got a clip of me hobbling up the corridor red faced and devastated.



Getting through it


My coach Toni (Minichiello) was great in helping me to see what (few) positives there were in such a bleak situation where I was going to be on crutches for two months. For example: I had the scans at the start of the week and went to see a foot specialist consultant the next day to work out what I could at couldn’t do and what had to be done to rest it - but by the end of that week I was back at the track doing everything I could within those rules.


Toni got me doing a lot of upper body work and made sure I didn’t let things slip especially in areas I could still train. Not being able to run is tough but you can still ensure you work on muscle tone in upper body.


It was hard, frustrating, boring you name it! And being at home resting was annoying – but looking at those opportunities meant that you looked at working on the little things like those parts of training you couldn’t always fit in.


I read in E-Inspire that Harry Aikines Aryeetey spent his 2007 of injury working on areas he didn’t have time for normally and as a result when he did come back into competition he had improved as he had addressed some problem areas – hopefully using my time wisely will have the same effect.




Ennis at European Athletics awards
A year ago now- me picking up my Rising Star Award from European Athletics


The Olympic buzz


I wasn’t sure whether I was going to want to watch the Olympics at first – I wanted the heptathlon to come and go so it would be out the way!  But as it happened I just couldn’t resist and followed the athletics and the heptathlon all the way.


I watched a lot of other sports too – it was hard not to – being on every channel, every news broadcast – you couldn’t get away from it even if you wanted to! But fair enough I suppose TV coverage isn’t about being sensitive to injured athletes!


I followed bits of the swimming and bits of the diving – the diving in particular was good to watch as many of the performance divers are based in Sheffield where I am. And of course it was good to watch the cyclists do so well!



The Heptathlon


It was definitely a tough competition but I still think it was very open as to who would win the gold – I didn’t expect Dobrynska to win but it was pretty much what I expected it to be in standard to be honest – I was expecting a score in the 6600s and 6700s as it has been strong all season.


I was motivated by my performance at the World Championships in 2007 coming fourth – I had such a hunger to compete at the Olympics after missing out on a medal in Osaka and I’m sure that drive would have helped and I am now ever more determined and focussed. Standards will always increase – I’m prepared for that and I’m confident I have it in me to make those sort of scores so I just want to get back to it – get fully fit and competing.



The Olympic Ideal


I’ve already missed one Olympics – and that has shown me how precious Olympic years are. Once every four years means it is harder to win there as opportunities come round less often but when they do they are also the biggest event in the world and the competition is at its most fierce. Yes there is a little bit of a luck factor in managing to be in top form in Olympic year, BUT ask any athlete and their ultimate goal is for Olympic Gold – nothing can top that it is the greatest achievement.


Having said that there are plenty of examples of great athletes who have not won Olympic gold who have clearly been the best in the world at what they do. In Olympic years everyone pushes that little bit harder and it is such a thin line between being in great shape and an injury or illness that getting it right on a specific year that only comes around once every four years – well that’s tough.




I’m back in training but not in full training, I’m winding everything back up gently, lifting weights and doing more conditioning, but I’m not able to jump just yet, that will come along in a few weeks. I’m due a scan next month and providing that says I have not had any problems with the training I have done so far (some light jogging and strides and weights) I will get the green light to up my game and begin sprinting.


It’s the most sensible approach – but it means I’m likely to miss the indoors as I’m not able to jump just yet and I would struggle to get all my technical work done in time for the main events. Having said that you never know I may get to do a couple of individual events  – it just depends on how the next 2 months goes




Jessica Ennis
Looking mean and moody in a promotion picture for the Indoors!
Rising Star


This time last year I was fortunate enough to be the European Athletics Inaugural Rising star – and a year on from there we had another British winner in Steph Twell. I’ve been asked what advice I have for Steph, which is quite funny as I’m only a couple of years older.


It is such a cliché but the only advice I could give Steph is to enjoy it and enjoy her athletics. The award is such an honour but Steph is level headed and she’s doing so well she just needs to enjoy herself and make sure she has a rest then look forward to next year and doing what she does best.


Sometimes people get quite excited about young athletes doing well but I’ve been lucky to have a good team around me and to make sure the hype doesn’t get too bad and I don’t get caught up in other people’s opinions and expectations.



About Charles Van Commenee


I was a junior back in 2004 when Charles last worked for UK Athletics. I’ve met him a few times since then at events.  Toni has had quite a lot of contact with him regarding training schedules and sessions and my programme. He’s a really nice guy and his previous involvement with the Combined Events means I think his appointment is even better for the heptathletes and decathletes – it’s going to be really interesting to see how it all pans out in the future.



The next phase


Toni has always had a strong long term eye on my development and once I am back in full training we will probably continue to focus on my throws work – although ironically I am hopeful I should be quite strong in those areas because the one thing I could do this year was throw a javelin and a shot! It was good to have a chance to focus on those alone and we’re going to carry on in those areas and to step those up.


It is going to be weird getting back in to everything at full pace – I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had such a serious long term injury before in my career – I’ve never been to hospital for any injury and the longest I’ve missed training for is a week - so I’m not used to being out of action. I’m not quite sure what to expect of my first sessions jumping and hurdling again and how that will feel – but it is likely I’ll be rusty in some technical areas so I will be working hard to sharpen those up – I’m hoping it’ll be like riding a bike – that you don’t forget!


I’m really impatient so having to step back and be patient whilst getting over the injury has been very frustrating – it is so tough to have to wait and let things happen – but I suppose as a result I have a better understanding of the process and I am more in tune with my body and how it reacts to periods of rest.


Having said that I certainly did my fair share of watching rubbish TV and DVDs, slobbing around eating the occasional naughty food and dare I say it allowed myself to have a tipple. I did an awful lot of rehab work but there were times when I was told to do nothing and I just had to have an almost normal life.


I feel lucky to have been given a window on everyone else’s normal world as it enabled me to do some things I wouldn’t do when I am in training or in competition – I went out with my friends and had a few cheeky drinks – it was nice to just let go, but having said that I crave MY normal life style – the training the hard session the monastic lifestyle – I’ve missed it – bring it on!


I can’t wait to feel that tiredness you get after a running session or to lift some heavier weights, but feeling good because you know you’ve worked hard. I know I’ll be moaning at the time but right now I can’t wait!