Ennis seeks confidence lift after setback

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The Independent Online

Jessica Ennis believes her hopes of Olympic glory in London can be given an enormous lift this weekend in the unlikely setting of a small Austrian town near the Swiss border.

World and European champion Ennis will compete in the heptathlon at the Hypo Meeting here in Gotzis, the venue where she suffered a triple stress fracture of the right foot in 2008, which ruled her out of the Beijing Olympics.The compact stadium surrounded by mountains in a town with a population of just over 10,000 is a far cry from a crowd of 80,000 that will be at next year's Olympics, but Ennis acknowledges the significance of her performance here after another worrying injury.

The 25-year-old suffered an ankle tendon problem this year which ruled her out of the European Indoor Championships and left her unable to run for seven weeks. She returned to competition only a fortnight ago, but believes a victory tomorrow over the likes of Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska would be of great psychological benefit, given her preparation.

"It would be a massive, massive confidence boost," the Sheffield athlete admitted yesterday. "I've said before I don't expect to not have niggles and injuries this year and next, so if I can perform well after missing weeks of training I would be really pleased and happy.

"I think it would give you that confidence in your ability that you can miss bits of training but you can also get back into reasonably good shape in a short amount of time. If I know I can do that it bodes well for next year."

Ennis admits she was becoming concerned with her ankle injury, adding: "Definitely, just because it took so long and it kept creeping into weeks and weeks and then, before I knew it, the season was here and I was still unsure as to whether I would be here competing.

"It was frustrating and worrying but, hopefully, I'm through the other end of it now. There's a slight worry that it can reoccur but I think it can be managed and, with the treatment I had and a long rehab, I would hope it wouldn't. It came on overnight and I didn't do anything different in training. Sometimes you do pick up injuries and I honestly don't think there was anything I could have done. It's just one of those things."

Ennis has enjoyed an unbeaten record since missing out on Beijing, winning the world title in Berlin in 2009 and following that with gold in the pentathlon at the World Indoors in Doha in 2010 and the European Championships in Barcelona the same year. That record will be under threat this weekend, but Ennis is more concerned about achieving a good points total, with the Olympic qualifying standard of 6,150 a first and achievable target.

"It's been widely reported, everyone knows I've had an ankle issue, so they might think I might not be as good as I was last year, but I don't know whether that's an advantage to me or them," Ennis added.

"I don't know what kind of shape everyone else is in, to be honest. I follow events but I don't go rooting through the internet to find what people have done. I think you can drive yourself a bit mad trying to see what shape everyone's in.

"I would love to win but I think it's more to see what shape I'm in. Ultimately, the world championships is what I'm bothered about this year and this is just going to give me a good indication of what I need to go away and work on, or what I'm happy with. "I'm going full out. I don't think you can hold back in heptathlon, you have to give it everything for every event. You do more in training than you do in competition so the fact that I'm training as normal shows me that I'm ready to compete."