When athletics in the United Kingdom seemed to be floundering, a new darling of the track and field has emerged in this week’s World Athletic Championships in Berlin.
Jessica Ennis proved that fairy tales can happen as she secured her country’s only gold of the championships so far in the Heptathlon event. In doing so, she has won over the nation and given Britain hope with London 2012 Olympics just around the corner.
She becomes the first British athlete to win gold in the event at a World Championships. Ennis fell a mere 100 points short of the British record set by former Olympic champion Denise Lewis. She did, however, surpass the total set by Lewis and Kelly Southerton in past World Championships.
Ennis coped admirably with the weight of expectation on her shoulders as she made the trip to Berlin as the only British athlete currently ranked world No. 1 in their event.
After day one, Jessica Ennis had completed the 100-metre hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, and the 200 metres, setting personal bests in both the the shot put and 200 metres.
In supreme form, the 23-year-old had amassed a total of 4,124 points, the third-highest score in the history of the event after the first day of competition. She held an imposing 307-point lead over her main rival, Ukrainian Nataliya Dobrynskya.
Her lead was reduced after she finished ninth in the long jump, and was cut even further after the javelin, as Poland’s Chudzik came to within 171 points of the British athlete. This left Ennis with a 12-second advantage going into the final event, the 800 metres.
However, she would draw confidence from the knowledge that her personal best time in the 800 metres was superior to any of her rivals. Ennis tore up the track, taking to the front of the pack and only surrendering her lead briefly to Dobrynskya before moving once more to the front and striding down the home straight in first place.
After suffering the disappointment of missing out on the Beijing Olympics due to a career threatening stress fracture in her ankle, Ennis has shown her strength in character returning from injury after more than a year sidelined to claim gold in the heptathlon.
Meanwhile, Phillips Idowu today claimed a long-awaited gold in the triple jump after producing a personal best distance of 17.73 metres. The 30-year-old finally overcame long term rival Nelson Evora, as the Portuguese favourite was resigned to losing his crown as he failed to out-jump the flamboyant British athlete.
The two golds mark an improvement for the British team after Christine Ohuruogo won the only gold medal at last year’s summer Olympics.