Daegu defeat alters Ennis perspective


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The Independent Online

Ever since returning from the career-threatening injury which forced her to miss the Beijing Olympics, Jessica Ennis has been used to winning.

On her return to competition after a 12-month lay-off, Ennis won the heptathlon at a meeting in Italy with a new personal best.

Later that year, the Sheffield athlete won the world title in Berlin with another personal best, finishing a massive 238 points clear of her nearest rival.

Records continued to tumble in 2010, with a new championship record giving Ennis the pentathlon title at the World Indoors in Doha, before yet another new PB saw her win the European Championships in Barcelona with a score just eight points off the British record set by Olympic champion Denise Lewis in 2000.

Even when she took on world-class athletes in their specialist events, Ennis would emerge triumphant, most notably beating world indoor champion Lolo Jones in the 60 metre hurdles in Glasgow.

But if anyone thought Ennis was therefore a racing certainty for gold at the London Olympics, they were in for a reality check when the 25-year-old tried to defend her world title in Daegu this year.

Ennis led by 151 points after the first four events on the opening day, and was still 118 ahead after matching her personal best in the long jump.

However, a terrible performance in the javelin handed the initiative to Russia's Tatyana Chernova, who went on to lift the title and leave Ennis to settle for silver.

A first defeat since returning from injury was obviously no cause for celebration, but Ennis could still benefit from the setback with a renewed sense of determination and a reduction in the sense of expectation on her shoulders.

"The disappointment in Daegu definitely motivates me, the real need to get that gold medal back," admitted Ennis, who went on holiday after Daegu but conceded part of her wanted to get straight back into training.

"I'm trying to get into the best possible shape for next year."

Much was made of her poor performance with the javelin in Daegu - bringing back memories of British rival Kelly Sotherton's struggles with the same event - but Ennis is not about to panic.

"It's not really about improving in the javelin, I know where it needs to be and it's been there for the past couple of years," Ennis told BBC Sport.

"All the other heptathletes around the world are training really hard so I want to be training just as hard. It's always good to have rivals."

As for 2012, Ennis will compete in various indoor events in January and February before heading to Istanbul in March to try to retain her world indoor pentathlon title.

Her only full heptathlon before the London Games will be in Gotzis in May, where she will need to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard of 6,150 points.

That should be little more than a formality, but then the real competition begins.