The Roger Black Column: Jessica Ennis is just a regular girl – capable of extraordinary achievement

Historically the stronger girls tend to come out on top but Jess Ennis can blow them out of the way

These are the big two days for Jess Ennis, and she will be feeling ready. She's been preparing for this for ages and the work's done. She's not going to be overawed by the occasion. She's not that type of person. If there's one thing she's managed to do well, it's to maintain her focus throughout this period.

Some people have talked about her doing too much publicity but I have a slight understanding of her world in that respect – I know some of the people who look after her – and the truth is that Jess doesn't spend a lot of time doing publicity. She just compartmentalises her life to fit it in and get it out of the way. I don't think it's affected her training at all.

I think in some ways she's been more worried about the planning for her wedding than the Olympic Games. She's just a very regular person, like Bradley Wiggins. You've got two very different characters but there are some similar traits there.

These are ordinary people who just do extraordinary things. And as long as Jess is able to do that and just focus on her performances over these next two days, I'm very confident that she'll come out with a gold medal.

I think if someone's going to beat Jess here they're going to have to have the competition of their lives. But it's a heptathlon. There are seven events and there are seven places where you can make a mistake.

That affects everybody. You can't afford to have a bad event in the Olympic Games. You can't make one big mistake. We saw that in the diving with Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield. One mistake and you're out of the medals.

It's the same in the heptathlon. It'll be the athlete who maintains their focus and has a very steady Games that will come through with the gold medal.

Jess has two tough competitors in Tatyana Chernova and Nataliya Dobrynska. You've got Jess, the slight speed merchant, against the stronger girls. Historically, the stronger girls tend to come out on top, but Jess is really quick. She can blow them out of the way in the first event, the 100m hurdles.

She has to be in the lead after the first day. And there are many key events for her. Her long jump has been up and down this year. Her high jump has been OK.

She's going to have to put in seven good events if she's going to win the gold medal, but she's more than capable of doing that.

She missed the Games four years ago because of a bad foot injury. I missed the Games in 1988 because of injury, went in 1992 and wasn't fully fit and went in 1996 when I was ready. Jess is going into these Games ready and that's a great position to be in. You just want to go out there and express yourself to the best of your ability.

The kind of disappointment Jess suffered in 2008 strengthens your character. She's had to make big changes. She's had to learn to take off from the other foot in the long jump. She's also had to really focus in on her javelin, which she's done with the former British javelin thrower Mick Hill.

So if Jess comes out with a gold medal she thoroughly deserves it. She's not someone who's rested on her talent and hasn't had any challenges.

The pressure of a home Games will be a factor to all British athletes. I don't know how big a factor, but you're in an Olympic Stadium and you've got 95 per cent of the audience cheering you on. That should inspire you.

For some people it will be too much but I think for the majority it will be an advantage not a disadvantage. I don't think it's going to give 10 per cent but I think it's going to give a fair bit.

Idowu's not ready but don't write him off

Obviously, Phillips Idowu has got problems. Obviously, he's not ready. And, for the biggest competition of his life, he wants to do it his own way. Let's judge the man on his performances.

We're not idiots here. He's clearly not in a great place but he's probably realised that the only one who can get him out of this place is himself. He wants to do it his way. And you have to let him do it.

It's not like Paula Radcliffe's situation. In the marathon, if you're not ready you can't do it. But Steve Backley won a silver medal in 1996 in the javelin and he had torn his Achilles 14 weeks prior. He had one big throw in him.

Phillips has probably got two jumps in him. One would be an 80 per cent jump in qualifying next Tuesday to make the final. And then one big jump in the final. That can win the Olympics. So don't write him off quite yet.

He's not taking anyone's place. I hope he has a jump in him. I'm pretty sure he won't have many. But with someone of that stature, just leave him alone to get on with it.

Roger Black is writing for 'The Independent', 'Independent on Sunday' and 'Evening Standard' during the Games. He is an ambassador for Scottish Widows, the official pensions and investments provider for the London 2012 Olympics.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?