Athletics: Ennis's hope of British record washed out but victory proves sweet

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The Independent Online

Like Neil Finn and Crowded House, Jessica Ennis is on tour in Europe. Unfortunately for the Sheffield heptathlete, she has not brought the weather with her.

At Loughborough eight days ago, Ennis competed in scorching conditions. Yesterday, in this north-western corner of Austria, it rained cats and dogs, and Alpine cows with bells on.

Having achieved the best ever first-day heptathlon score in the 36-year history of the Hypo-Meeting - 4,119 points - the Briton's hopes of any kind of landmark score were effectively flushed down the drains of the Mösle Stadion before she set about completing her seven-event mission.

Ennis finished with a tally of 6,689 points, 142 shy of Denise Lewis's British record. Still, she finished emphatically on top of the pile in this de-facto world championship meeting, prevailing by 117 points. Having won official world titles both indoors and out since making a tearful exit with a broken foot midway through the 2008 Hypo-Meeting here, the 24-year-old endorsed her credentials as the planet's pre-eminent female multi-events athlete.

Among those Ennis vanquished over the course of the weekend here were the three women who picked up the Olympic medals in Beijing two years ago while she was at home nursing a triple stress-fracture of the right foot. Nataliya Dobrynska, the gold medal winner in China, finished down in seventh place. Hyleas Fountain, the silver medallist, failed to finish the seven events and Tatyana Chernova was the runner-up.

"I'm a little bit disappointed, just with today," Ennis said. "But I'm delighted to come here and win, and get rid of the demons from last time. I knew it was going to be difficult to break the British record, with the weather. I could have done better in the long jump and the javelin but all in all I'm quite happy."

Having started the second day with a lead of 277 points, Ennis' advantage was cut to 224 after a below-par long jump of 6.13m. Fountain, lying second overnight, withdrew from the competition, complaining of a back problem. Chernova then jumped 6.52m and proceeded to unleash a mighty 51.35m throw in the javelin. Ennis, though, took a 77-point cushion going into the final event, the 800m, and true to character, she declined to sit on her lead, tracking Chernova until the 600m mark before surging past to win the race in 2min 11.19sec.

Ennis will get a better chance of attacking the British record when she contests the European Championships in July. In the meantime, though, she has successfully followed in the footsteps of two great British Olympic champions by getting her name on the winners' board in Gotzis. "It's nice to be up there with Daley Thompson and Denise Lewis," Ennis reflected. "I'm thoroughly privileged."