Ennis treads lightly as she prepares for return to action

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The Independent Online

The cotton wool is off. Having overcome the ankle tendon injury that forced her to miss the European Indoor Championships in Paris last month, Jessica Ennis, the main hope for British success in the Olympic track and field arena in 2012, is getting back into the full swing of training for a return to competitive action next month.

The reigning world and European heptathlon champion revealed yesterday that she was unable to run for seven weeks because of the problem that afflicted her during the high jump at the national indoor championships in her home city, Sheffield, on 12 February. Ennis has been absent from competition since then but she intends to return in the Powerade Great City Games in Manchester on 15 May – running in the 150m and the 100m hurdles on a specially constructed track on Deansgate – and also plans to contest her first heptathlon of the year in the annual Hypo Multi-Events meeting at Götzis in Austria over the weekend of 28-29 May.

That is likely to be her only heptathlon before she defends her global outdoor title at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in August. "I've had to change and back off a lot of training in the past few weeks," Ennis said yesterday, speaking at the launch of what is being billed as Manchester's Great Day of Sport, with not just the city-centre track races but also the Bupa Great Manchester 10km road race, featuring Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebrselassie, and the British Gas Great Salford Swim.

"Obviously, it's not ideal preparation for the summer," she added. "I was really looking forward to going to the European indoors but, looking back now, I'm glad I made the choice not to go because I think it would have made the problem a lot worse.

"I've missed a lot of training but I'm just starting back into running sessions now and I'm not actually that far behind. I was in such good shape for the indoors and you don't lose that so quickly. Although I did lose a little bit, I think it'll come back quite quickly."

Ennis missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 after suffering a triple stress fracture of the right foot at the Götzis meeting and the 25-year-old psychology graduate and her coach, Toni Minichiello, were always going to err on the side of caution when the first signs of trouble struck midway through this year's indoor season – particularly with the 2012 Games looming ever closer on the horizon.

"It was more important for me to be ready for the summer," Ennis said. "It was a sensible decision not to push myself and make things worse."

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