Golden girl is now aiming for Sheffield return

Jessica Ennis-Hill is eyeing a long-awaited return to the track in time for the indoor season, according to her coach, Toni Minichiello.

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Jessica Ennis-Hill

That could mean a date in her home city of Sheffield on February 8-9 at the British Athletics Indoor Championships at the English Institute of Sport.

The Olympic heptathlon champion has endured a frustrating year professionally with injury meaning she could only manage three days of competitive action and missed the world championships in Moscow.

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But with the Commonwealth Games and European Championships to come this summer, Minichiello reports that progress on the comeback from an Achilles injury is being made.

“Jess is doing well. We’re hoping still for an indoor season, we’re just waiting on the progress of the training,” said Minichiello of the 27-year-old.

“She was ill for a couple of weeks so we’ve had to take a precautionary step back, which is sensible to do.

“Two heptathlons in two weeks at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships is going to be very tough and stressful.

“It’s the tightest schedule we’ve ever had to do and that’s why the quality of the training we can do now is so critically important.”

Striking a balance in training regimes since the closure of Don Valley Stadium in the autumn has presented Minichiello with an added headache as he nurses his protege back to competitive health.

But the multi-event supremo is confident the changed schedule will not have a long-term hindrance on Ennis-Hill’s preparations to do two heptathlons in the space of a fortnight in Glasgow and Zurich.

“She’s still adhering to her rehab work and we’re upping the intensity of that, so we have to be aware of the surfaces we’re on and so have to juggle sessions around,” added Minichiello.

“I want to put more volume in but I have to be conscious that the EIS surface is very hard.

“We’re trying to balance sessions but I’m sure we’ll get there and I’m confident the running sessions will improve.

“We are where we are and we get on with it and we’ll keep working towards success.”

It is not just Ennis-Hill in Minichiello’s group harbouring Commonwealth Games aspirations.

Rotherham schoolteacher and sprinter Louise Bloor gets stronger each year, while heptathlete Karla Drew is on the verge of breaking through.

Minichiello added: “They’re not funded athletes but they’re working hard, they’re students or they’ve got work.

“Whether they qualify is down to their hard work and the quality of the programme I can put together.”