JESSICA ENNIS-HILL will make her return to the heptathlon stage this month buoyed by her return to the track for the first time in almost two years, in Manchester at the weekend.
Sheffield’s Olympic heptathlon champion began the journey she hopes will lead to the defence of her crown in Rio next summer by clocking 13.14 seconds as she finished third in the 100m hurdles at the Great CityGames.
The 29-year-old was racing on a purpose-built track on Deansgate in front of her nine-month-old son Reggie and hordes of spectators, who braved the cold to gather outside the city-centre bars and coffee shops to catch a glimpse of the returning golden girl.
She received a huge cheer when introduced to the crowd for the first time in 22 months.
Back on that occasion, at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, she clocked 13.08secs. Her return performance, in cold conditions and into a headwind, was encouraging.
Despite her preparation being disrupted by minor Achilles niggles, Ennis-Hill is due to make her heptathlon return in Gotzis at the end of the month.
She said she would see how her Achilles recovered from the race, but that Gotzis was “still very much” in her mind.
The event in Austria is set to be Ennis-Hill’s first seven-event competition since London 2012.
It is due to pit her against Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the 22-year-old who shattered her British record on the way to pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague in March.
“It was really good to be back,” said Ennis-Hill, who finished behind Tiffany Porter in Manchester, who claimed a dominant victory in 12.86, and Lucy Hatton.
“I feel like it’s a starting point now. I feel like I can build on that. I’m always going to be disappointed. I’m happy to come away with that, I can build on it.”
Johnson-Thompson has firmly established herself as the new queen of multi-eventing in Ennis-Hill’s absence and impressed over 200m hurdles in Manchester, finishing second by just 0.03 to Meghan Beesley, a specialist 400m hurdler.
Elsewhere, Greg Rutherford sealed victory in the long jump with his first leap of 8.01m, while Richard Kilty, the world and European indoor 60m champion, clocked 10.29 to finish second to American Mike Rodgers in the 100m.