Home comforts can provide platform for Ennis’s Olympic bid

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Injuries have provided an unwanted footnote to the career of Jessica Ennis, yet with characteristic determination the Sheffield woman sees no reason to wrap herself in cotton wool from now until the Olympics.

A foot fracture ruled her out of the Beijing Olympics while an ankle and calf swell sustained at this very meeting last year, denied her the chance to add a European indoor pentathlon title to the world indoor gold she won in 2010.

But if those ill-timed and cruel twists of fate have taught the 26-year-old anything, it is that opportunities should be grasped when they come along.

Hence her appearance in her home town this weekend at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships at the English Institute of Sport.

Olympic gold may be the ultimate goal in 2012 but there is also a world indoor title to defend for a hungry Ennis.

She has not always contested indoor seasons – most notably ignoring it in 2008 to put all her eggs into the Olympic basket.

But as the gold-medal contender in the heptathlon this summer, a successful indoor campaign in the shortened pentathlon can only increase her chances of fulfilling her destiny this year. And the fact that her great rival Tatyana Chernova lies in wait in Istanbul next month, merely adds a little spice to the first major international championship of the year.

“I’m glad she’s going to be competing,” says Ennis of the Russian who took her world title off her in Daegu last year.

“I’m going to be competing against her throughout the year and at the Olympics hopefully so it’ll be a good opportunity to see how fast she is and what shape she’s in.

“I’m looking forward to kicking the season off with a good battle.

“It’ll be a good benchmark. Then I expect her to do Gotzis (Austria), which I hope to be at.”

The demons of Gotzis have already been exorcised by Ennis. It was in that Austrian village four years ago where her Olympic dream came crashing down.

Yet 12 months later she was back turning bad memories into good ones.

“You can’t worry too much about injuries,” she says.

“You just have to be sensible. If I felt a twinge and was a bit concerned or a bit worried then I’d just stop, I wouldn’t push myself. I’d put things into perspective.

“You have to push yourself but you have to be careful. It depends what the championship is, what you need to get out of it. For me this is my preparation for the world indoors, so ideally I want to do all the competitions I have, but not at the risk of injuring myself or setting me back in any way.

“I enjoy doing the indoors, I like to see where I am from winter training. And after 2008 I said to myself I want to do as many championships as possible because missing out on the Olympics that year was devastating.”

Ennis’s principle aim in Sheffield this weekend is improvement in each of the four events she contests; the high jump and shot putt today and the 60m hurdles and long jump tomorrow.

Whether she contests the latter is down to how fresh she feels after the first day’s competiton.

She struggled at the long jump at her first major event of the year in Birmingham last week, and with another tilt planned next weekend there, Ennis may leave it tomorrow.

It could be a risky ploy. The long jump is Chernova’s strength and of the five events of the pentathlon it could be key in Istanbul next month. But Ennis said: “I know I’m capable so I should be fine.

“I just need to get into the swing of jumping consistently. I was jumping 6m16 at the start of last season and then 6m30 by the middle of the year.”

When planning begins for the outdoor season at the end of March, Ennis’s focus will shift to improving her javelin technique following the struggles she endured in Daegu that ultimately cost her a second world title.

This weekend is all part of the grand plan for a head-strong individual who will leave no stone unturned from now until London.

“I’m envisioning my journey to be up and down throughout the year,” she said.

“It would be amazing for it to be like that (demonstrating upward slant), but that’s not always the case.

“So I’ll just take each event as it comes and hope it goes well, build on it, work on it, improve what I need, starting this weekend.”