Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis ponders hurdles switch
Olympic champion Jessica Ennis is confident of success if she swaps the heptahtlon to the 100m hurdles
Jessica Ennis’ transition from heptathlon to hurdles might be on ice but she’s adamant that when she does make the switch it won’t be long before she’s winning major medals all over again.
Ennis kicked off her Olympic gold-medal winning heptathlon campaign at London 2012 with a blistering run in the 100m hurdles, smashing a new British record of 12.54seconds.
From that point forward there was no looking back as Ennis comfortably saw off the competition to top the podium in front of an adoring home crowd with a total of 6,955 points.
But of the seven events it was the hurdles that really caught the eye – Ennis’ time would have won her individual gold at Beijing 2008 and been good enough for fourth in London.
And, having won almost everything there is to win in the heptathlon, an event notoriously tough on the body, a switch to hurdles would appear the smart move for the 26-year-old Ennis in order to prolong an already highly-decorated career.
But the 100m hurdles will be no cakewalk for Ennis with reigning world and Olympic champion Sally Pearson herself only 26 and with a personal best that is nearly three tenths quicker.
Canada’s Jessica Zelinka, another heptathlete and hurdles specialist who finished seventh in both events at London 2012, pushed Ennis all the way on that famous first Friday in the Olympic Stadium.
And it is that level of competition, along with a more specialised training regime, that Ennis believes would make all the difference when she goes for gold in her new event.
“It’s a huge decision to just switch events, it’s not something I can do lightly, but the truth is I really do want to give hurdles a go at some stage,” said Ennis – speaking at the Aviva School Sport Matters Awards at Lord’s.
“It’s something that I hope can prolong my career and my time in London was very fast. That definitely gives me confidence because there’s no way I would move from heptathlon to an event where I had no chance of making semi-finals and finals.
“There’s no way I would settle for a drop in level. I would like to think that I can run that time again, or even faster hopefully, considering if I put all my training time into one event.
“The run in London was smooth, fast, it was pretty perfect and I could not believe the time I ran but I think that was down to it being competitive.
“Normally in the hurdles event in the heptathlon I’m a long way clear and it’s just me against the clock but if you have someone there pushing you it can help drive your legs on to run faster times.
“So hopefully that will be the case in the individual event and that should keep me improving.”
Ennis’ switch to the hurdles appears a certainty down the line but before then there is the small matter of the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
And the pint-sized princess has set her sights on reclaiming the world heptathlon title that she won in 2009 but was wrenched from her grasp in Daegu in 2011.
“I really want to get my gold medal back at the worlds but I’m under no illusions about how difficult that is going to be,” added Ennis – who settle for silver behind Tatyana Chernova.
“I was really disappointed to lose my gold, of course with hindsight I would not have had it any other way because it was the motivation I needed for London 2012.
“And at the time I just kept saying to myself ‘it’s all about London’ and that helped me to get through it.
“But deep down I really was upset, I really wanted that gold medal but hopefully I can get it back.”
The Aviva and Daily Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards recognise outstanding achievements in school sport across the country, and are part of Aviva’s wider commitment to support the next generation of British sporting talent. For more information go to aviva.co.uk/rugby-sponsorship