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
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there