Jessica Ennis-Hill roars straight back to book defence of her Olympic crown in Rio

Olympic gold-medallist does enough to qualify for World Championships in Beijing - but may not compete

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The Independent Online

Was there ever any doubt? Just to underline her imperious pedigree, Jessica Ennis-Hill won the final event, the 800 metres, from gun to tape. Have that, she might have said in meeting the qualifying standard for Rio to ensure she will defend her Olympic heptathlon crown next summer.

Her time in the 800m was two seconds outside her best but good enough to see off Brianne Theisen-Eaton, the eventual winner of the Hypo-Meeting in the Austrian Alpine town of Götzis. Ennis-Hill finished fourth overall, but in her first heptathlon since taking gold in London three years ago, and giving birth to her son, Reggie 10 months ago, this was only ever about the taking part, not the winning.

Her points tally of 6,520, was not only good enough to book her ticket to Brazil, but also to the World Championships in August, should she choose to compete. “If someone had said ‘65’ [6,500 points] I would have grabbed that with two hands, I’m really happy to score that, yeah I am made up, really, really pleased,” she said.

Standing fourth overnight, Ennis-Hill posted a leap of 6.16m in the long jump, half a metre shy of her best. Given the concern over a troublesome Achilles, she was happy to sign for that. The javelin did not progress as it might – her throw of 42.60m was more than a metre down on her 43.88m in Loughborough last month, dropping her to eighth – but with the 800m to come the numbers were already stacking in her favour.

“I didn’t quite know what would happen in the 800m,” she said, “but as soon as I heard the gun and ran the first lap I felt comfortable and tried to maintain the speed. I’ve still got that competitive edge and I have still got drive to compete, even when I am not on to win or get a PB.”

Victory went to a woman in form, Canada’s Commonwealth champion and world silver medallist Theisen-Eaton, whose mark of 6,808 was a national record and included three personal bests. Germany’s Carolin Schäfer (6,547 points) was second ahead of Nadine Broersen (6,531) of the Netherlands.

Ennis-Hill will decide in the coming weeks if she will travel to Beijing to compete at the World Championships. “If I am a medal contender I will go and if I can get the work done,” she said. “I don’t want to go to the World Champs underprepared. Some of my events have been pretty poor and pretty standard, distances and jumps. It will be good to go away and get some proper training done. I feel there will be a lot more to come.”

The standard reached by Ennis-Hill after so long out might be better understood when considering the fate of Britain’s junior world champion Morgan Lake, who was unable to complete the final discipline, pulling out with 200 metres to go en route to finishing 23rd.

The 18-year-old schoolgirl, who returns to Wellington College this week to continue with her A-levels, had hoped to emulate Ennis-Hill in qualifying for Beijing, but the 5,082 points registered were never going to be enough to push her into the required top 12.

Should Ennis-Hill take the plunge in August she will be up against the Briton seeking to usurp her Olympic crown, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who finished 15th in London three years ago.

Johnson-Thompson missed out on the chance to defend her victory last year in Götzis after sustaining a knee injury during her win in the pentathlon at the European Indoor Championships in March. Her 5,000 points tally in Prague broke the British record mark set by Ennis-Hill and has been bettered only by Ukraine’s Nataliya Dobrynska in 2012. 

After Johnson-Thompsonfinished fifth at the World Championships in Moscow two years ago, victory in Beijing has always been her principal goal this year. “I feel ready now as an athlete to take on these challenges. I think I’ll be disappointed if I don’t come away with a medal,” she said. “I should be able to, not like when I was 19, when I went for the experience.”

At the Bedford International meeting, British sprinter Adam Gemili ran under 10 seconds for 100m for the first time in his career with a 9.97sec race, although the wind speed was slightly over the legal limit.

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