Memories of Daegu drive gold dream of star Ennis

Great Britain's Jessica Ennis
Great Britain's Jessica Ennis
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SHEFFIELD’s Jessica Ennis has one simple wish for Olympic year – being fit and healthy on August 3 and 4.

Those are the dates of the heptathlon competition in London and mean even the prospect of retaining her pentathlon title at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul tomorrow – and possibly breaking the world record as well – firmly takes a back seat.

Two years ago in Doha, Ennis was just 54 points shy of Irina Belova’s world record of 4,991, and she admits it would be a “nice bonus” to set a new mark in retaining her title.

“That would be the ideal situation but you have look at it from different views as well,” the 26-year-old said.

“For me I want to have a great season, but more than anything I want to be in the best shape I can possibly be going into London, injury-free and healthy.

“If I’m in that position I know I can go out and compete well, for me that’s the most important thing. If I could ask for anything it would be to get all that great training done and preparation and be fit and healthy on those two days.”

Ennis knows she faces a tough task both here and in London, however, with Russia’s Tatyana Chernova out to take Ennis’s indoor crown in the same way she won her outdoor title in Daegu last summer.

“Last time I competed against her was in Daegu so I’m definitely looking forward to that head to head again,” added Ennis.

“It’s going to be a massive psychological boost for anyone that does well here. Looking at everyone’s performances around the world they are on top form so to come away from this, whether it’s a PB or winning a medal, that’s definitely going to give you a boost going forward for the rest of the year.

“I’m definitely in a better position than last year. I had to miss the European Indoors and miss quite a bit of training with an ankle injury. I’ve managed to get all my training in through the winter and had some good preparation so I’m happy with the way it’s gone.”

Ennis insists she is happy to see Chernova improve her personal best in the 60m hurdles, one of the Briton’s best events, believing she will thrive on the close rivalry.

And that is a view shared by her 24-year-old opponent, who has been working hard to close the gap Ennis usually enjoys over her rivals on day one of the heptathlon.

“This is a good fight,” Chernova said.

“We show good results when we compete with each other. On the first day there are lots of events I can do better so I concentrated this winter on high jump and hurdles and showed good results in all competitions.

“I will do anything to be first, to be the strongest. I will do anything to realise my dreams.

“The future will show what I can do.”

Ennis admitted last year she uses the image of herself crossing the line in the final event in Daegu, with Chernova celebrating behind her, for motivation ahead of London.

And after struggling to fulfil her potential until last year, Chernova knows exactly how that feels.

“I know what she feels when someone is better than you because all the years before Daegu I had a long and difficult wait for this gold and I felt the same feelings,” she added.

“I have a dream in my mind of a gold medal and I always believed I can win and I can show good results.”

Joining Ennis will be another Yorkshire athlete, Richard Buck.

The City of York reperesentative will compete in the 400m and 4x400m this weekend.

London 2012 is the 25-year-old’s main aim of the year but it is on the indoor surfaces where he has had most success.

He won a bronze with the 4x400 team at the last World Indoor Championships in Doha two years ago, and has two European silvers to his name with the relay team and a bronze in the individual race which he won last year at the continental championships in Paris.

His achievement in qualifying for the team this year is all the more encouraging given he was dropped from UK Sport funding last autumn and does not benefit from the full level of training, facilities and medicines his peers get.