Jessica Ennis-Hill ready to hurdle into the unknown

Gold medallist’s return to scene of her greatest triumph is hampered by nagging Achilles injury

When asked to describe the stand-out moment of last summer, for Jessica Ennis-Hill it was not so much the gold medal being placed around her neck or the national anthem blaring out inside the Olympic Stadium.

Rather it was those first nervous steps as she entered the venue for day one of the heptathlon, what she called “a moment that will stick with me for ever”.

The steps she takes into the stadium today, a year on, will be infinitely more tentative, knowing that the Achilles injury that has curtailed her ambitions this year could flare up and end her season before it has begun.

Ennis-Hill had her first competition of note on Tuesday, competing in the javelin and long jump at a meeting in Loughborough, and she came through relatively unscathed though did admit to feeling pain. The double challenge of the hurdles and the long jump, however, will be the acid test as to whether she can make it to the World Champ- ionships, let alone be competitive.

The injury has meant that she is far from race sharp. Prior to two hurdling sessions last week, she had not trained over the hurdles for the previous six weeks. Her running ambitions were seriously hampered, the focus instead on weights and cycling.

This is her running debut for 2013, just three weeks before the start of the World Championships, meaning she is unsure how she will fare at the major championships this year.

“I think it’s going to be a good test, to do the hurdles and then go to the long jump,” she said. “That’s trying to simulate what I’m going to do in Moscow; to see how it holds up. Tuesday was the first test and coming out from that I had a good response and it didn’t react too badly. This is the next big test.”

The pain in her Achilles is not about to go any time soon. Instead, she will just have to limit it with painkillers and heavy strapping. Where once, if fit, she would have been a red-hot favourite in Moscow, now she is still uncertain whether she will even make the start line there. Asked if she could win the Worlds, she hardly fired a confident note in response: “I definitely feel in a better position than I was last week and the week before.”

To some degree, her hurdling into the unknown means she cannot wholly enjoy her return to the scene of her greatest triumph, mainly because of the nagging thoughts in the back of her mind about an injury that refuses to go away.  She concluded: “The last time I hurdled was in the Olympic Stadium. I could not have been more ready last year and I think I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum this year. I’m just going to go out there and give it my all and see what happens.”

While Ennis is hobbling, the other star British attraction, Mo Farah, has a noticeable spring in his step. In his last race, he broke Steve Cram’s 28-year-old British record for the 1500m, and the hope is he could break Dave Moorcroft’s 3000m mark set in 1982 this afternoon. On his chances of doing so, Farah said simply: “I’m just going to leave you guys guessing.”

The year has not been without its problems, though: he admitted he has not seen his twin girls, Aisha and Amani, since racing in the United States at the start of June. Added to that sacrifice is the pressure of being at the top of the pile in long-distance running. “The hardest thing is being at the top because everybody wants to knock you down,” he confessed. “Sometimes you’ve got to motivate yourself and think about your decision  – that’s what really drives us.”

Whatever the result in London today, Farah’s message, however, echoes that of his fellow London gold medallist, Ennis-Hill. “Moscow’s the most important thing for me, that’s what I’m getting ready for,” he said.

Weekend schedule: The highlights

Saturday

2pm Men’s long jump (featuring Chris Tomlinson)

2.11pm Women’s 100m hurdles (featuring Jessica Ennis-Hill)

3.05pm Men’s 400m hurdles

3.27pm Women’s 200m final

3.50pm Women’s long jump  (featuring Ennis-Hill)

3.55pm Women’s 400m (with Christine Ohuruogu)

4.07pm Men’s 110m hurdles final

4.20pm Women’s 100m final

4.32pm Men’s 3,000m (Mo Farah)

4.50pm Men’s 4 x 100m relay (Usain Bolt) TV 1.30-5.15pm, BBC1

Tomorrow

3.16pm Women’s T33/34 100m (Hannah Cockcroft)

4.01pm Women’s T37 100m (Bethany Woodward)

4.23pm Men’s T42 200m (Richard Whitehead)

5.01pm Men’s T43/44 100m (Jonnie Peacock)

5.14pm Men’s T54 mile (David Weir)

TV 3-5.30pm, Channel 4

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Purchase Ledger & Arrears Supervisor

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are an experienced super...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Web Designer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss