Jessica Ennis sets sights on gold at Olympic heptathlon


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The Independent Online

Jessica Ennis will be happy to chase gold rather than lucre when she begins her quest for the Olympic heptathlon title tomorrow.

The Sheffield athlete made it clear yesterday that she did not support the ‘cash for dash’ Twitter campaign being mounted by leading US athletes – most prominently 400m runner Sanya Richards-Ross – with a view to securing payment for athletes at the Olympics and to outlawing Rule 40 of the International Olympic Committee, which restricts what competitors are able to promote during the period of the Games.

"People can get wrapped up in the money side of things,” Ennis said, speaking at the British athletics team’s pre-competition press conference. “As athletes, we just want to go out there to perform as best we can.

“It's all about the medal and that's our reward. Any extra thing is a bonus. But it's not about that. I think it would take away from how special it is to actually make the team and win a medal."

Dai Greene, the 400m hurdles world champion and British team captain, also voiced his opposition to the campaign. “As athletes growing up, we never took part in our sports for financial gain,” the former Swansea City youth team footballer said. “I certainly would have stuck at football if that were the case.

“I don't think that any of us think for one second that we deserve the right to be paid to be here. We have all worked our socks off just because we want to be here. The gold medal is our payment, and to get the kit.

“To be part of Team GB is something special. I think that's more than enough payment for us all, to be honest."

Long jumper Greg Rutherford agreed. “The risk that you have if you start bringing in payments is that you’re going to breed a nation of athletes who think about just making it to the team and that’s it,” he said.

Charles van Commenee, head coach of the British team,  said: “I don't think true Olympians are driven by money. They compete here and represent themselves, the nation, their family, their club, their sport. That's what drives Olympians.

“In my previous job in Holland there was a lot of discussion about bonuses. We don't have that in Britain. I feel more comfortable with that. This is more the purity of the sport.”