Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ennis-Hill Not Just Back to Make Up the Numbers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ennis-Hill Not Just Back to Make Up the Numbers

Article excerpt

JESSICA Ennis-Hill can be a gold medal contender at the World Championships in Beijing next month, according to British Athletics performance director Neil Black, writes GUY ASPIN.

The Olympic heptathlon champion will head to her first major championship since London 2012 after deciding to compete in China.

Ennis-Hill, who was named by British Athletics yesterday in a 62-strong team for the event, passed the acid test of her fitness at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games last weekend with flying colours, recording her best performances since the Olympics in the 100 metres hurdles, long jump and 200m.

The 29-year-old's decision to take her place on the plane is proof she believes she can be a serious challenger for a medal.

"I am over the moon. We all know that Jess and (coach) Toni (Minichiello) make good decisions, so it's brilliant that the decision is a positive one," Black said.

"What's really clear is Jess wouldn't be going unless she felt she was competitive for medals.

"It's a different ball game when you get to that fine balance (between gold and the other medals), but we're not going to bet against her. There are a good few weeks to go.

"I'm sure she and Toni are working on the basis that there's room for improvement.

"We know she's going to set a great example, we know she's going to kill herself to do well. If a medal comes that's fantastic, if a gold medal comes that's almost unbelievable."

The Sheffield athlete is joined in the heptathlon by Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who is also due to contest the long jump.

Ennis-Hill missed the World Championships in 2013 due to an Achilles injury and did not compete at all in 2014 as she took time out to have her son Reggie. She only returned to action in May and in the 11 weeks since has come on leaps and bounds.

Beijing will be Ennis-Hill's second heptathlon since London 2012, following her fourth-placed finish in Gotzis.

And it will be the first time she has gone head to head with domestic rival Johnson-Thompson since the Olympics.

Johnson-Thompson missed Gotzis because of a knee problem she suffered after winning the pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in March and revealed on Saturday she had been troubled for the past three weeks by a quad problem.

But she declared herself "completely fine" after coming through the long jump at the Anniversary Games unscathed. And Black said her selection in the long jump was not merely a back-up option.

"Kat really wants to do both, she really believes she can do well in both," he said. "I'm really confident that she's going to be fine."

Alnwick's Laura Weightman is included, fresh from her 1,500m triumph at the Olympic Stadium on Friday, while she is joined in the team by Gateshead Harriers' Richard Kilty (100m) and Newton Aycliffe's Kate Avery (10,000m). …

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