Home Games equals added pressure, admits Jessica Ennis


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The Independent Online

Jessica Ennis, Team GB’s poster athlete, admitted yesterday at the high-profile launch of Britain’s Olympic kit that being the centre of attention at a home Games brings extra pressures.

Ennis is one of Britain’s best hopes for track and field gold and yesterday at the Tower of London modelled the blue-rinse uniforms the team will wear come July in what should be her first Olympics after missing Beijing due to injury.

“I’ve never experienced this amount of attention,” said Ennis, who will limit her media and public appearances between now and the Games to concentrate on training. “[A home Games] definitely does bring more pressure. The Olympic Games is the ultimate competition so you would have that pressure anyway on yourself but there are so many more eyes on you at home. People who aren’t so into sport are going to follow you and want to be part of it so it does bring added pressure. But it is a great position to be in.”

After a break in Florence following her heptathlon silver at the world indoor championships, Ennis resumed training this week. Her next event will be a full pentathlon at Gotzis in May, which will be a pivotal moment in her and her rivals’ preparations for the Games.

“It was a disappointment in Istanbul but you learn so much from events that don’t go the way you planned them,” said Ennis. “Now we have the opportunity to make some tweaks and work on some areas. I’ve got 10 weeks until Gotzis to make the changes but they are only fine tuning.

“Although Istanbul was a great indication of what shape everyone’s in, Gotzis is a much fairer indication – it’s the heptathlon, it’s the events you are doing at the Games and it’s not that far out from the Games.”

It was at the Gotzis event before the 2008 Games that Ennis picked up the injury that kept her out of Beijing and she is anxious to balance the need to make a statement of intent in Austria with avoiding coming to any harm.

“I want to be on London, healthy, injury free and in the best shape I can,” said Ennis, who will focus on her javelin and long jump over the coming weeks. “I’m in much better shape than I was last year, but you can’t afford to have one below par event – they all have to be brilliant and that’s what it will take to win a gold medal.”