Ennis hits top form and sends warning to heptathlon rivals

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The Independent Online

Jessica Ennis finished just 41 points shy of Denise Lewis's 11 year-old British heptathlon record on the concluding day of the Hypo Multi-Events Meeting in the Austrian town of Gotzis yesterday, easily taking the event with the second highest score of her career.

The 5ft 4in Sheffield athlete was also scoring a huge psychological victory over her global rivals just three months ahead of the defence of her world title in Daegu, South Korea.

Ennis, the biggest hope for home track and field gold in the London Olympics next year, racked up 6,790 points over the course of the two-day, seven-event test of all-round athletic ability, winning by a margin of 251 points from Tatyana Chernova, the Olympic bronze medallist from Russia.

It was an improvement of 101 points on the 25-year-old Briton's winning tally here at Gotzis last year and just 33 points short of the lifetime best score she achieved when taking the European Championships in Barcelona last summer.

Considering the fact that Ennis only returned to competitive action just a fortnight ago after recovering from the ankle injury that curtailed her indoor season, it was a stunning consolidation of the global domination that the South Yorkshirewoman has enjoyed in the heptathlon since 2009.

Hyleas Fountain, the Olympic silver medallist from the United States, might have been a notable absentee but Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska of the Ukraine was one of those roundly beaten, finishing sixth with 6,332 points.

"It's a massive, massive relief and my ankle feels brilliant so that's really positive," Ennis said afterwards. "I had about six weeks to prepare and that's about the bare minimum you'd need.

"I didn't want to come and produce a poor score and send out the wrong message with the World Championships this year. It was a bit of a gamble but as I started training I was in quite good shape and running well so I knew I could get myself in reasonably good shape, and the gamble paid off. It has given me so much confidence. I know I can get better for Daegu."

Ennis racked up 4,097 points on the opening day, which is 17 points more than she managed in Barcelona last summer when she finished just eight points short of Lewis's British record tally of 6,831 points.

She opened with a slightly below par 13.03sec in the 100m hurdles but then cleared 1.91m in the high jump, threw 13.94m in the shot and clocked a lifetime best of 23.11sec in the 200m. Yesterday she started with 6.37m in the long jump, threw 43.83m in the javelin and finished off with a personal best of 2min 08.46sec in the 800m.