Matthew Bell: The night I stalked Britain's 'golden girl' Jessica


Related Topics

What was your best moment? The opening ceremony? The event you actually got tickets for? Mine managed to be the best and the worst. As someone who has spent the past fortnight quietly Googling words like peloton and handball, I admit this is all a bit foreign. But I get the feeling that highs and lows often come together in sport.

Anyway, it was the night I met Jessica Ennis. I know. Get me. She was the star billing at a party at Omega House on Wednesday. Normally, this is the House of St Barnabas, a tumbledown Georgian place on London's Soho Square, established as a charity for "fallen women". But it had been taken over and spruced up by Omega, the watchmakers and official timekeepers, for the duration of the Games.

As it turned out, a lot of other people wanted a glimpse of Jessica. They were lining the pavement and climbing the railings. The paps were four deep. Well, she did win gold at the heptathlon last weekend. I looked that up too: not one event, but seven! All lumped together under a Greek name. It doesn't get more Olympian than that. That's why we cleared the front page last Sunday to pay Jessica the honour due to her.

That's also why we knocked up a box of badges saying "I ♥ Jessica". So off I went, wearing my bright red badge, and carrying a framed edition of last week's front page, as a gift for her. It was the least we could do. Trouble was, Jessica had a lot on. Running, jumping, and throwing things must have been quite relaxing compared to her hectic schedule of interviews. So I had a drink. Maybe I had two. But after four hours of being promised my moment with Jessica, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. PR people can be the nicest folk in the world when they want to be. But sometimes, you wonder if they're quite telling the whole truth.

So when I suddenly spotted Jessica through the crowd, being handled from one schmooze- lounge to the next, I saw my chance. Reader, she is as wonderful in the flesh as on telly. No, better. A beautiful, athletic, friendly, warm, talented, open, normal and nice person, who happens to be one of our greatest athletes of all time.

Like a stalker, I elbowed my way through to throw myself into her path. The giant Perspex picture frame I had been clutching was by now a bit clammy, but her face instantly lit up. "Wow! That's lovely," she said, as I handed it over. I think I managed to mumble something about how proud we all are, and what a hero she is. And then I asked to have our picture taken.

Jessica said fine, but as we looked about for the snapper, minders intervened. "That's enough!" growled one, and shoved me aside. Two more bundled me away and the caravan moved on. And that was that. Endless hours of preparation, sweating, and deep breathing, all for a second of mixed agony and ecstasy. This must be what it's like to be an Olympic athlete, I thought. Except that, unlike Team GB, I managed to bungle it at the end. Still, Jessica: if you find yourself struggling to cope with the come-down, I know how you feel.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
If Miliband is PM, it is expected that Cameron will stand down as party leader quickly  

General Election 2015: With more options to form a government, Miliband should win this campaign

Jane Merrick
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk