I've done all I can do, says Olympic hope Jessica Ennis after last warm-up
Toni Minichiello, the man who has coached Jessica Ennis since she was 11, professed himself reasonably satisfied after the Sheffield heptathlete completed her final competitive outing before the Olympic Games on Saturday.
Ennis took part in the long jump and javelin competitions at the Loughborough European Athletics Permit meeting, where a small but warmly supportive crowd of perhaps 300 saw her produce a technically sound, though unspectacular, performance.
In the long jump, normally one of Ennis's stronger elements but one in which she has had problems with her run-up recently, the 26-year-old over-stepped the board on only one of her six jumps. Her longest effort, her last, was 6.21 metres, some 30cm below the personal best she equalled in breaking Denise Lewis's long-standing British heptathlon record in Austria in May, but it was always apparent she was thinking more about technique than distance.
The same was true of her efforts in the javelin later in the day. A winter working with the former World Championship bronze medallist Mick Hill has produced a more grooved and rhythmic throwing action in her weakest discipline, with the result that she has consistently thrown more than 45m this season, with a personal best of 47.11m – if she matches that in London she will almost certainly become Olympic champion. On Saturday she opened with 44.73m, but in difficult conditions did not better it.
Even so, the habitually cautious Minichiello said he was "happy enough".
"I'm much happier with the long jump because she was jumping into headwinds, and I think it's where it wants to be. On the javelin, Mick was OK with how she was throwing – it's just a bit more incentive to work hard, to not be complacent in the last couple of weeks.
"We'd have liked to have finished on two PBs [personal bests] but I don't think it makes too much difference whether you've done well or badly, to be honest, you all start on zero points. We've still got two weeks of training and two weeks of tapering."
It was, said Ennis, "a bit weird" to think that her very next competitive outing would be the event for which she has spent four years building, and the one which may define her as an athlete.
Her overriding emotion, however, appeared to be one of relief: both that the waiting is nearly over and that she is fit, well and in form.
"With the long jump I wasn't pleased with the distance but I was much happier with my run-up and the way I was getting on the board. Now I just have to get back to working on my flight and then, hopefully, everything will come together.
"The javelin wasn't too bad, I don't want to be getting in my big throws too early. The rain didn't bother me – most likely it's going to be raining in London, isn't it? – but while it's always nice to throw a PB I'm happy with where I am."
And overall? "I'm just glad that, touch wood, I'm in once piece," she smiled. "It's nice to be in this position. Even though things went reasonably well indoors in the winter and I felt in good shape, you just don't know what's going to happen.
"I've done all I can do. I'll just be going away to the holding camp [in Portugal] now to sharpen up the best I can. I've done all the hard work. Now it's just about putting it together in competition over two days.
"So I'm just going to continue training sensibly and making sure everything is going in the right direction. But I'm obviously very happy to be in this shape."
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