Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis has revealed the extreme pressure of being the face of the London Olympics.
In her new book, Unbelievable, the heptathlete champion also described how she was bullied because of her size at school, and the “pure fear” she felt before the 800 metres, her final event at the Olympic Stadium.
“It was a long wait because I wanted to run the race now. Get it over. Kill the pressure,” she wrote.
“The television set in the combined events room switched to the studio where Denise Lewis and Michael Johnson began discussing me. I put my fingers in my ears and ran out of the room.”
The 26-year-old from Sheffield experienced similar problems in the months building up to the Games. “The pressure was huge,” she wrote. “I would drive past five big posters of me on the way to training. It was still hard to take in.
“One night I was driving to a chip shop and was about to go in when I saw the huge Powerade ad hanging outside.
“There I was, supposedly sweating after a hard session, clad in Lycra and selling good health. “I thought, ‘God, I can’t go in now’, and drove on to Sainsbury’s instead.”
She also reveals she was bullied at school, writing. “The saying about sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting falls on deaf ears when you are a schoolkid in the throes of a verbal beating.”