Engaging Ennis fits bill as champion and sporting personality

IF 2009 was a breakthrough year for Jessica Ennis, 2010 was even better.

Using a crowning achievement as a springboard for further success – as all the great athletes do – Ennis built on her glorious achievement in the World Championships in Berlin 16 months ago by adding two more major titles this year.

The Sheffield heptathlete confirmed her position as the best multi-eventer on the planet by winning the world indoor pentathlon title in Doha in March and the European outdoor heptathlon crown in Barcelona in July.

At 25 Ennis is at the peak of her powers and shows no sign of slowing down.

She has everything; the pace for the sprints, the flexibility for the jumps and the stamina for such a demanding test of endurance.

But it is her inner drive, her determination and her strength of character that are her strongest assets.

Multiple stress fractures in her foot on the eve of the Beijing Olympics would have crushed lesser souls.

The Yorkshirewoman, though, bounced back quickly, her heartache at missing out on the biggest show on earth driving her to the achievements that have followed in the last two years.

Not only are her accolades worthy of honours and her mental attitude commendable, she also fits the bill as a sports personality.

Beautiful, striking and engaging, she has a disarming warmth when you are in conversation with her.

The natural choice for the face of the London 2012 Olympics, Ennis has shouldered those pressures with maturity and enters 2011 looking to continue building a head of steam towards her home Olympics.

There is a world hepthatlon title to defend in Daegu, South Korea, next summer and a European indoor pentathlon title to add to her mantlepiece in March.

She is also branching out into the 110m hurdles which, if the London timetable is accomodating with the scheduling of events, could offer her the chance of winning two Olympic golds in front of her home fans.

Ennis finished third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year vote in her home city last year.

With so many individual success stories in British sport this year she has a battle on to repeat or better that in Birmingham tomorrow.

But should she do so, it would illustrate the regard in which this endearing and dominant athlete is held by the British public.