Heptathlete Ennis aims to banish Beijing blues

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The Independent Online

The spotlight will fall on Britain's one and only Olympic track and field champion, Christine Ohuruogu, and on its lingering cause célèbre, Dwain Chambers, when the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships get under way in Birmingham this evening.

By the time the action finishes on Sunday night, though, the chances are the star of the show will be the one British athlete occupying a pole position in the world rankings five weeks ahead of the World Championships in Berlin.

Jessica Ennis tops the global order of merit in the seven-event heptathlon, courtesy of the 6,587 points she amassed in winning the Multistars competition at Desenzano on the shores of Lake Garda in May.

The 23-year-old only leads by 19 points – from Nataliya Dobrynska, the Olympic champion from Ukraine – but, such is her form this summer, her Berlin preparations could be boosted by a British record, or even two, when she contests the 100m hurdles and the high jump on Sunday.

Two weeks ago, Ennis clocked a stunning 12.81sec for the 100m hurdles at a meeting in Bottrop, Germany. In doing so, she missed Angie Thorp's 13-year-old British record by a mere 0.01sec. Ennis is already a joint holder of the high jump record, having cleared 1.95m in Desenzano two years ago.

She won both events at the World Trials and UK Championships two years ago in Manchester, becoming the first woman to complete that particular double in the main domestic championship since Thelma Hopkins in 1957. Sadly, though, she was unable to defend her titles last year because of the ankle fracture that also cost her a shot at an Olympic medal in Beijing.

The 5ft 4in Sheffield athlete looks like being Britain's biggest hope for a World Championship gold in Berlin next month, although Ohuruogu could dictate otherwise. The Londoner finished a distant sixth behind American Sanya Richards in the 400m at the Bislett Games in Oslo a week ago but has peaked to perfection in the last two outdoor seasons, winning World Championship gold in Osaka in 2007 and Olympic gold last summer.

Tonight, Ohuruogu runs in the heats of the 400m, having decided to contest her specialist event rather than the 200m. "Running over 400m in Birmingham will help me keep on track on the run-up to Berlin," she said.