Britain will have just two of its three athletics gold medallists in action at this month’s World Championships in Moscow after Jessica Ennis-Hill admitted she had lost her battle to be fit in time to compete.
There has been a sense of “will she/ won’t she?” in recent weeks over Ennis-Hill, which had cranked up following her struggles in the 100 metres hurdles and long jump at the Anniversary Games in London last weekend.
But the 27-year-old Olympic champion confirmed she definitely will not be joining her fellow stars of Super Saturday, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah, in Moscow after failing to overcome the Achilles and heel problems that have dogged her throughout 2013.
“Up until now, we have been focusing on managing the pain so I can train and get myself in shape to go out there to win in Moscow, which has meant not focusing on finding a cure for the injury,” Ennis-Hill said. “The time has now come to stop chasing fitness and look to cure the problem.
“I am so glad I got to compete in London last weekend as it gave me a clear picture of where I am – and it is definitely not where I want to be both regarding pain and also form. To say I am gutted is an understatement – no athlete likes to miss the opportunity to compete at a major championships – they don’t come round that often.”
Bar a low-key javelin event in April, Ennis-Hill had not competed since her Olympic triumph last August until last week when she took part in the javelin and long jump at the Loughborough.
Having thrown a personal best in the javelin, there was hope over her availability for the Worlds but she was subsequently some way off her best. She clocked a time of 13.08sec over the 100m hurdles, more than half a second off her personal best, and then recorded a best jump of 6.15 metres, a far cry from her career longest of 6.51m.
Ennis-Hill had said she would only compete in Moscow if she felt she could win the gold medal and the withdrawal of Tatyana Chernova, the defending champion, earlier in the week certainly eased that particular problem. But after consulting her doctor on Monday and physiotherapist on Tuesday, Ennis-Hill yesterday announced the decision that the Championships had come soon.
Her coach, Toni Minichiello, part of that decision-making process, said: “It’s not been the easiest or simplest of decisions. The pain management did improve, and Jessica was able to compete in London but the next few days have not seen enough improvement that would have made competing the two days, seven events of the heptathlon possible.
“I’ve also had to consider if competing at the World Championships would have caused further damage, making any rehab more difficult. There are nine global medals up for grabs over the next three years, not including Moscow, so a long-term view has to be taken.”
Minichiello has targeted next year’s indoor season for Ennis-Hill’s return to action from the current injury but also insisted the focus going forward needed to be on injury prevention.
The decision reached by Ennis-Hill and her team, which means she will miss the second major championships of her career after she was also forced to sit out the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was welcomed by the UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black. “I know this has been a tough decision for Toni and Jess but I feel it is the right one with a long-term view,” he said. “They’ve worked hard to bring her to a point where she was close to competing and it was great to see her in action last weekend. But no one wants to see her competing in pain, and we look forward to seeing her wear the GB vest again in 2014.”
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