Jessica Ennis-Hill 'will reach top again but 2015 will be progress year'

Ennis-Hill faces competition on her return from British rival Katarina Johnson-Thompson, in particular

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The Independent Online

Jessica Ennis-Hill has been tipped to return to the peak of her powers by the UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black.

But Black tried to dampen immediate expectation about the Olympic heptathlon champion and insisted 2015 would be no more than an “exploration” year as she returns to  full-time training and competition following the birth of her son Reggie in the summer.

Ennis-Hill will compete in her first heptathlon since London 2012 at the Götzis Hypo Meeting at the end of May and Black said it was never in doubt she would return to the discipline.

“I had a conversation with Jess a few months ago and she was really, really clear, ‘I’ve thought about it, I want to do heptathlon’,” he said. “This year will be a progression back and an exploration but that was it, she was really quite clear – heptathlon.

“She is making good progress, she is doing all events,” Black added. “The team working around her is working really well. I think she is confident so it is about progress and using this year to relearn, explore, get back to a good competent level, to check her responses and we will see how it evolves.

“I truly think that she believes and wants to recapture that greatness. She understands completely that it is a tough event. She certainly knows it is not going to be easy but I think there is a genuine desire to go back and see what she can do and do it again.”

Ennis-Hill faces competition on her return from British rival Katarina Johnson-Thompson, in particular, who was the dominant heptathlete last season before injury forced her out of both the Commonwealth Games and Europeans.

In Johnson-Thompson’s absence, British athletes still shone in both Glasgow and Zurich but Black warned they faced a far harder season with the World Championships in Beijing in August.

“It’s going to be a tough world and we know that,” he said. “We’ve got to face up to that, work hard. It is a complete reality check.”

One of the brightest notes of last season was the impressive form of Britain’s male and female sprinters, among them Richard Kilty being crowned world indoor champion over 60 metres. However, Kilty had a poor start to his season when he was disqualified at the Glasgow International Match on Saturday for a false start.

The 25-year-old has been among those looking for a new coach after Rana Reider’s sudden departure from UK Athletics and Kilty has started working again with Linford Christie. On that switch, Black said: “Richard has made a sensible decision in the circumstances. He has worked hard, made sensible decisions. He is learning, developing and maturing as a person all the time and has more to come as an athlete.”