Jessica Ennis-Hill admits she will face the acid test of her fitness for the World Championships when she returns to the Olympic Stadium today.
The London 2012 heptathlon champion, from Sheffield, will compete for the second time in five days at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games as she steps up her recovery from the ankle injury which has decimated her season.
The 27-year-old has been pleased with how the injury to her left Achilles tendon reacted to her long-awaited return in Loughborough on Tuesday, but the 100m hurdles today will provide a much clearer indication of her readiness for the global showpiece in Moscow, which is a little over two weeks away.
The Yorkshire athlete reckons she will make a final decision over whether to travel to Moscow on Monday or Tuesday, having previously stated she would not go unless she felt able to contend for the gold medal.
Ennis-Hill, who also competes in the long jump this weekend, said: “I think it’s going to be a big test to firstly do the hurdles and then go to the long jump afterwards. That will simulate what I will have to do in Moscow.
“Tuesday was the first test, but I had a good response.
“This is the next big test with the hurdles. It is explosive and I come down with my lead leg on the damaged Achilles. It will be good to see how it goes and how it responds the day after.
“I definitely feel in a better position than I did last week and the week before, but I have just started doing my explosive work this week.
“This week I have done two hurdles sessions and I hadn’t hurdled for five or six weeks and I haven’t been able to sprint.
“I will have a really good indication from this weekend about how I do in the hurdles and then how the long jump is going and then I can make a decision (about Moscow).”
That decision is likely to come sooner rather than later, with Ennis-Hill admitting she did not want to “leave it until the last minute”.
“I want to get my mind ready for it,” she said.
The heptathlete, who will line up against Olympic champion Sally Pearson in the hurdles, is still competing in pain and will take a painkiller before the race.
The hurdles will be her first race since winning Olympic gold and she added: “I couldn’t have been more ready last year and now I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum.”
Ennis-Hill appeared at yesterday’s press conference alongside Mo Farah, whose long-distance world domination has come since he moved to a training base in Portland, Oregon. The heptathlete’s situation is rather different.
The Don Valley stadium where she currently trains is to be closed as a cost-saving measure by Sheffield City Council and she admits she does not know where she will train this winter.
“It’s frustrating because it’s going to make things more difficult,” she said. “To lose Don Valley is going to be difficult during the winter months.
“I do need to do my sessions outside and use a softer surface (as opposed to the harder indoor surface) to avoid injuries and things like that. I haven’t thought too much into the winter months.”
Today, at least, she can revive happier memories.
The event is billed as a follow-up to ‘Super Saturday’ at the Olympics, when she, Farah and Greg Rutherford all won gold medals in the space of 45 minutes. Rutherford is injured this time, but Farah goes over 3,000m.
Ennis-Hill has only watched the recording of the action back once after the Games and joked: “I keep catching my husband putting it on and I’m like, ‘Turn it off’.”
Stepping back into the stadium today, though, in front of another bumper crowd, will surely bring the memories flooding back.
In the arena last night Adam Gemili was left demanding more from himself despite recording a season’s best time in winning the men’s 100m B-race at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
The 19-year-old, who burst on to the British sprinting scene last year after running the qualifying time for the 100m at the Sparkassen Gala just weeks ahead of Olympics selection, took victory at the Olympic Stadium with a time of 10.16secs as a packed out arena roared him on.
A former footballer with Dagenham & Redbridge, Gemili will run in the 200m in next month’s World Championships in Moscow and is looking to improve following his success last night.
“To win the race is just about good enough for me I think,” he said. “My time wasn’t rapid and I would’ve liked to have run quicker and I didn’t execute as well as I could. My reaction time was really, really bad. If I get that right, the rest of my race I felt was a lot better.”
Gemili believes he is in better condition than he was 12 months ago when he reached the semi-final of the 100m that was so memorably dominated by Usain Bolt.
“I feel in a lot better shape than I was last year if I’m honest,” he added. “I’m happy just to come here at the Olympic Stadium in front of 60,000 people and win, it is the best feeling in the world to have them all screaming for me, it is unbelievable.”
Looking ahead, Gemili wants to hone his 200m race ahead of the World Championships but is targeting future successes across both distances in the future.
He said: “I will sharpen up a bit and do a little bit more 100, I have been doing a lot of 200 training and doubling up at racing so hopefully I will take it to Moscow and do well there.”