Jessica Ennis on track – now with a young pretender chasing her

World No 1 heptathlete hails Olympic standard of Liverpool teenager Johnson-Thompson

Bedford

Jessica Ennis was looking eagerly ahead rather than glancing nervously over her shoulder after completing a double shift in the Bedford International Games yesterday. "I want it to just start now – I'd happily do it tomorrow," the world's top-ranked heptathlete of 2012 said, seven weeks out from her date with Olympic destiny down the A1 in east London.

Still, after keeping the form book ticking over with solid but unspectacular performances in the long jump and javelin, Britain's greatest all-round female athlete acknowledged that a potentially superior model is rolling out along on the national heptathlon production line.

With news from the Czech Republic that Katarina Johnson-Thompson had achieved an Olympic A standard qualifying score with 6,248 points, as runner-up to Eliska Klucinova in the TNT Fortuna heptathlon at Kladno, the 26-year-old from Sheffield was asked about the 19-year-old Liverpudlian being touted as "the next Jess Ennis". "I'm sure she will be," the original replied, before adding for good measure: "She'll be better."

At the start of last month Ennis was in the books as Britain's best-ever junior in the seven-event heptathlon, holder of the UK under-20 record tally of 5,910 points. At Desenzano in Italy six weeks ago Johnson-Thompson racked up 6,007 points.

Now the burgeoning young Merseysider has maintained her momentum with an improvement of 241 points, having reeled off six personal bests out of seven in Kladno – 13.62sec in the 100m hurdles, 1.86m in the high jump, 11.83m in the shot put, 23.88sec in the 200m, 38.68m in the javelin and 2min 14.56sec in the 800m.

"Do you really think she'll be better than you?" Ennis was asked. "Probably, yeah," the European champion replied. "She beat my junior record. She's a tall, strong girl. Her scores in her individual events are looking really good. She's got a great coach in Mike Holmes.

"I think it's great that she's qualified for the Olympics. It'll be brilliant for her to go there. I'm sure she'll do really well. But I think it'll be in the next couple of years that she'll start getting closer and closer ... I'll probably retire then."

For the time being at least, Ennis is not just the British but the world No 1 . At Gotzis in Austria a fortnight ago she turned the tables on her 2011 World Championship conqueror Tatyana Chernova of Russia and in front of a sparse crowd on home ground yesterday she leapt 6.40m in the long jump and threw 46.34m in the javelin, both on-par performances.

She probably could have achieved a longer distance in the javelin but withdrew from the competition after three throws. "I was just a little bit tight in my calf, so I didn't want to push it," Ennis said. "There's no point. It's a big year. I didn't want to cause any damage."

It was a good afternoon for Perri Shakes-Drayton. The European 400m hurdles bronze medallist won the flat 400m in 51.26sec, slicing 0.21sec from her personal best. There was also a storming anchor leg from Adam Gemili for the British junior team in the 4x100m relay.

The 18-year-old Gemili, who tops the UK senior 100m rankings with 10.08sec, confirmed that he will contest the World Junior Championship trials here next weekend, then decide whether to compete at the Olympic trials in Birmingham a week later.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'