Winning the World Championships just 13 months after giving birth
Following on from our blog about the incredible Brownlee Brothers our latest feature is about the amazing Jessica Ennis-Hill. Ennis-Hill has competed sparingly since winning in London in 2012 because of injury and the birth of her first child.
But at the recent Athletics World Championships she steadily built a lead over the first six events and then stormed through to win her 800m heat in two minutes 10.13 seconds to leave Brianne Theisen-Eaton trailing 115 points down and in silver and Laura Ikauniece-Admidina 38 points further back in bronze.
Her remarkable comeback started with a few workouts in the garage whilst her new baby slept – she did 15 minute spells on her bike, and found it difficult to even lift light weights above her head. And now she is once more a World Champion, a mere 13 months after giving birth and three years after her last major championships.
Afterwards, an emotional Ennis-Hill, said that striking unexpected gold in Beijing equalled her Olympic victory in London. Her achievement in winning with a total of 6,669 points following consistently impressive results in the long jump, javelin and 800m was in some ways greater than that era-defining victory three years ago.
Her words were – “It’s definitely one of the greatest moments of my career. I still can’t believe it.” Following on with, “I only wanted to come here if I was ready to contend for a medal and 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.”
Ennis-Hill had travelled to a major championships clearly not expecting to win gold and, in fact, fellow Brit Katarina Johnson-Thompson was ready to take that title! However Johnson-Thompson’s prospects of a medal faded fast. She actually began 80 points behind Ennis-Hill with the long jump to come. And disaster struck when she recorded three no jumps and threw away her chance of a medal by the smallest of margins. In contrast, Ennis-Hill remained superb and held her nerve.
Ennis-Hill hadn’t decided if she was going to go to Beijing but she confirmed her participation only after a good performances in the hurdles, long jump and javelin at the Anniversary Games in London.
She had said she didn’t want to leave her one-year-old son Reggie and husband Andy if she didn’t have a realistic chance of a medal. However, this remarkable sportswoman returned with a gold medal.
And now she has set the scene for another chapter in her career at the Rio Olympics next year when she will go head to head again with Johnson-Thompson who will be desperate to use her disappointment as fuel for the future.
Inspirational is a word that is often thrown around far too readily, but in sporting terms Jessica Ennis-Hill can legitimately claim her throne as a leading role-model for mothers returning to work and highlights what can be achieved with the right attitude and work ethic.