Jessica Ennis-Hill’s golden comeback at the World Championships meant just as much to her as her London 2012 Olympics success – with the podium-topping display surpassing the Sheffield heptathlete’s wildest expectations just 13 months after the birth of her son.
Just four weeks ago it was still unclear whether the Olympic champion would compete in Beijing, having only returned to action in May following the arrival of Reggie last summer.
However, a promising performance at the Anniversary Games saw Ennis-Hill put herself forward for selection – a decision she justified in some style at the Bird’s Nest.
The 29-year-old edged a fascinating battle with compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson on Saturday to take the overnight lead, which she pushed on from with solid displays in the long jump and javelin.
Ennis-Hill did not let that golden chance slip, winning her 800 metres heat in 2 minutes 10.13 seconds to add another world crown to the one she won in Berlin six years ago – success which meant just as much as three years ago in London.
“It’s really hard but they’re definitely like that,” she said, holding her hands together level. “It’s definitely one of the greatest moments of my career. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.
“Me and Toni (Minichiello, coach) spoke about coming here and we only wanted to come here if I was ready to contend for a medal.
“We spoke about a bronze medal – that would be amazing – and a silver medal, but we never spoke about a gold medal. I just thought it was a little beyond me this year.”
The road to Beijing began with a bit of gentle work on her bike at home a few weeks after giving birth – a long journey which was a big reason why she dropped to the deck in tears at the end of the 800m.
“It was a reflection on the whole year really, happy that I’d gone through everything,” added Ennis-Hill. “It’s hard with a newborn at the beginning and you’re just into everything and then getting back into training and thinking about everyone that’s helped me, my family, Toni and the team around me.
“They’ve been patient and believed I can get back to this point.”
Bolt denies Gatlin in 100m showdown: Page 10.