SHEFFIELD star Jessica Ennis-Hill’s career would be topped off by retaining the Olympic heptathlon crown next year.
The golden girl of British sport further ingratiated herself to the public by making a remarkable comeback at the World Championships, just 13 months after the birth of her son, Reggie.
Ennis-Hill was still unsure whether to compete in Beijing just four weeks ago, but the decision to participate in her first major championship since winning London 2012 paid off as she topped the podium and her wildest expectations.
The 29-year-old is still basking in the afterglow of that surprise gold medal, although a solitary beer was all her celebrations amounted to after returning to the team hotel.
The champagne is already on ice for her return to Sheffield, though, with Ennis-Hill’s family coming around to celebrate the best possible preparation for next summer’s Olympics.
Rio de Janeiro is – and always has been – the ultimate aim, where she will look to become just the third athlete to have a baby and retain their Olympic title four years on.
“I think it would definitely be right at the top of my athletic achievements,” said Ennis-Hill in Beijing.
“To have won the Olympics once and then have a baby in-between it and then come back and win again would be unbelievable, really.
“It is definitely not going to be easy to do. It is going to be a really, really big challenge – even more of a challenge than this year.
“I am not taking it as guaranteed, it is going to be incredibly hard, but I am definitely going to try my hardest and see if I can get on that podium.”
Bettering her winning 6,669-point haul is almost certainly going to be required next summer, especially as World Championship favourite Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be looking to make amends for their Beijing frustrations.
Ennis-Hill is all too aware of that but warned she did not go “eyeballs out” in the Bird’s Nest and sees plenty of improvements across the seven disciplines.
“It is frustrating because I always compare myself to the athlete I was in 2012,” she explained.
“I know sometimes that is probably a little bit unrealistic with where I am in my career right now and what I’ve come back from, but I always want to be that little bit better.
“It is very, very satisfying to know I have come away from these championships knowing that I can work on all of my events and I’ve got a lot more to come from them, and obviously still coming away with the gold medal.”
Ennis-Hill is looking forward to a deserved break, including spending time with her husband and son, before resuming training ahead of the Olympics – by which time she may well be a three-time world champion.
Currently, the 29-year-old has gold medals from Beijing and Berlin six years ago, but she has not given up on her silver from Daegu in 2011 being upgraded.
Ennis-Hill was beaten by Tatyana Chernova in South Korea, but in January the Russian received a two-year ban, back-dated to 2013, after the retesting of an anti-doping sample from the 2009 championships revealed an anabolic steroid.
Her results over a two-year period from August, 2009 were annulled, but the period of disqualification expired two weeks before Daegu, allowing her to hold on to that gold medal – for the time being at least.
Chernova would not have had the qualifying standard for the 2011 event if her positive test had been discovered at the time, though.
“There’s always that hope that things will be worked out and I’ll get that medal,” said Ennis-Hill.
“But I am not getting too wrapped up and frustrated in it. It is something that has happened now and I’ve kind of got to move on and focus on the future.”
The spate of doping allegations has darkened athletics’ door in recent months, but Ennis-Hill hopes her victory on Sunday along with Usain Bolt’s in the 100m has put the sport back in a “really happy and positive light”.
There is still a long way to go when it comes to sorting out the sport’s serious issues, but she believes newly-elected IAAF president Lord Coe can do just that.
“He was an amazing athlete in his time and he has gone on to achieve so much post his athletic career,” she added. “I think he is definitely the right person for the job and I hope he can really make positive strides within our sport.”
Rabah Yousif qualified for the 400m World Championship final with what he felt was a frustratingly-slow personal best.
Having arrived from Sudan as an asylum seeker aged 14, the sprinter is determined to repay Great Britain with a medal.
Most of the attention heading into the 400m semi-finals revolved around team captain Martyn Rooney, but Yousif will be the sole British representative in tomorrow’s final. The 28-year-old qualified as a fastest loser in 44.54secs – a personal best that left him surprisingly unsatisfied.
Rooney crossed in sixth in 45.29s – way off the 44.45 personal best he set in the heats.