Gillian Cooke aiming to be ultimate all-rounder

The bobsledding long-jumper has a unique record in her sights in 2014

It was a good day in the east end of the Scottish capital for the great all-rounder in action in the UK Women's League Premier Division match. She was a long-jump winner at the track where the Commonwealth Games of 1970 and 1986 were held – a small step towards the giant leap that could land her a place in the record books 13 months hence at Glasgow 2014.

It was just a shame that the great track-and-field all-rounder, Mrs Jessica Ennis-Hill, was not at Meadowbank too. Some 1,500 folk had bought tickets to see the Olympic heptathlon champion take part in her first competition since Super Saturday at London 2012, only for the recently spliced Ennis-Hill to withdraw in midweek because of a tight Achilles tendon. Her much-anticipated return to action has been rescheduled for the Bislett Games in Oslo on Thursday.

In the absence of the British golden girl of the London Olympics, Gillian Cooke took the opportunity to step out of the shadows and show a glimpse of her own remarkable sporting versatility. The 30-year-old Edinburgh native competed for Scotland as a pole vaulter at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and in the long jump at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. She has also represented Great Britain at the Winter Olympics.

Indeed, at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver she was partnered in the two-woman bobsleigh by the very person who introduced Jessica Ennis, as she was at the time, to track and field. Nicola Minichiello was the future Ennis-Hill's first coach at the City of Sheffield Athletics Club before concentrating on her own burgeoning sporting career and handing over nurturing duties to her then husband, Toni.

Like Ennis-Hill, Cooke and Nicola Minichiello know what it's like to conquer the sports world; at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid they struck gold.

Four years on, with Minichiello in retirement and Paula Walker as her new driver, Cooke is preparing for a shot at Winter Olympic glory at the 2014 Games at Sochi next February. She is also aiming to make the Scottish team for those home Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next summer, hence her appearance in the white-and-blue vest of Edinburgh Athletics Club yesterday.

Cooke holds the Scottish indoor record in the long jump, with 6.43m, but due to bobsleigh commitments she last competed in the discipline 12 months ago. For that reason she was entered in the B-string event, making way for her clubmate Sarah Warnock, who duly won the A-string competition with a leap of 6.11m.

Cooke then made it an Edinburgh double, taking victory in the B competition with a last-round effort of 5.94m. "I would have liked to jump 6m, but I'll take that," she said. "My main priority is Sochi in February and I'm in fairly hard training down in Bath for that now, so I'm jumping not as sharp as the rest of the girls who are peaking for the summer athletics season. I'd like to get the Commonwealth qualifying standard this summer, to take the pressure off for next year."

Cooke needs a distance of 6.20m to qualify for the Scottish team for Glasgow 2014, and achieve the unique distinction of contesting a Winter Olympics and a Commonwealth Games in the same year.

"It's such a strange combination, I suppose," she said. "It is something I was aiming to do in 2010 but I injured myself badly at the Winter Olympics and missed the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. That put me out for 18 months."

Cooke suffered spinal damage when she and Minichiello crashed on their final run in Vancouver, on the track where the Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life on the eve of the 2010 Games. She aggravated the same problem in a crash with Walker in January this year.

"That's the main challenge of being able to do the Commonwealth Games: coming back off the bobsleigh season healthy," Cooke pondered. "You do take bumps and bashes along the way."

With that, the great Caledonian all-rounder was off to show yet another string to her considerable sporting bow – filling in for her club in the javelin.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star