Jessica Ennis - Athletics Career - 2012


Ennis opened the 2012 season at the Northern Athletics Senior Indoor Championships at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield in mid-January. She won the shot put with a distance of 13.95 metres. Three weeks later, at the same venue, Ennis was a member of the 'Sheffield Flames' team that won the McCain Indoor City Challenge. She won the 60 metres hurdles in 8.05 seconds and was second in the long jump with 6.19 metres. At the Aviva UK Trials and Championships at the English Institute of Sport in early February, Ennis won the high jump, clearing 1.91 metres, and finished sixth in the shot put, with a best throw of 14.09 metres. The following day Ennis won the 60 metres hurdles in an equal personal best time of 7.95 seconds.

Ennis recorded two indoor personal bests at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on 18 February; 7.87 seconds in the 60 metres hurdles and 6.47 metres in the long jump.

Ennis finished second at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey in March 2012, behind Nataliya Dobrynska, who set a new world record of 5,013 points. In finishing second Ennis recorded a personal best and national record of 4,965 points, also recording indoor personal bests in the shot put (14.79 metres) and 800 metres (2:08.09). Her time of 7.91 seconds in the 60 metres hurdles would have taken the silver medal in the individual event.

Ennis's first outdoor appearance of the season came at RAF Cosford in late April, where she threw the javelin 45.66 metres. In mid-May, Ennis won the senior titles in the shot put and the javelin at the Yorkshire Athletics Championships at Cudworth, near Barnsley. In the shot put, Ennis competed against 69-year-old Sheila Bolland of Spenborough and District Athletics Club.

In May, Ennis ran 12.75 seconds in the 100 metres hurdles at the Powerade Great City Games in Manchester, beating 2008 Olympic gold medallist Dawn Harper and 2011 World Championship silver medallist Danielle Carruthers. The event was notable for there being only nine hurdles instead of the regulation ten due to an administrative error, resulting in what would have been Ennis's personal best time for the event being invalidated.

Ennis also broke Denise Lewis's British heptathlon record at the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis, Austria, recording a total of 6,906 points, thus becoming the eighth woman to score over 6,900 points. Ennis's performance included personal bests in the 200 metres (22.88 seconds) and javelin (47.11 metres), whilst she equalled her personal best in the long jump (6.51 metres). Ennis beat Tatyana Chernova by 132 points.

Ennis next competed in the 100 metres hurdles at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo in early June, but was disqualified from the final for a false start, having earlier run 12.83 seconds in the heats. The following weekend Ennis won the long jump with 6.40 metres and finished eighth in the javelin with 46.34 metres at the Bedford International Games.

Ennis participated in two events on the second day of the Aviva UK Trials at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, winning the high jump with a season's best of 1.89 metres. She followed up by taking the 100 metres hurdles title in 12.92 seconds, beating Tiffany Porter into second place. On the third day she finished sixth in the long jump with a best of 6.27 metres. The competition was won by Shara Proctor in a new British record of 6.95 metres.

Ennis decided not to defend her European heptathlon title at the 2012 championships in Helsinki because of the proximity of the competition to the Olympic Games. Previously held every four years, this was the first time the European Athletics Championships had been arranged on a two-year cycle, resulting in all the major competitors for the Olympic title declining to enter. The event was won by Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida of France, with a total of 6,544 points, 362 points below Ennis's best score.

Ennis's last competition before the Olympic Games was a meeting at Loughborough in early July. She won the long jump with 6.21 metres and finished fourth in the javelin with 44.73 metres.

In August, Ennis won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the London Olympics with a British and Commonwealth record score of 6,955 points, beating silver medallist Lilli Schwarzkopf by 306 points and bronze medallist Tatyana Chernova by a further 21 points. At the end of the first day Ennis had scored 4,158 points, her highest ever first-day total, and was 184 points ahead of her nearest competitor Austra Skujyte. Ennis' first-day score included two personal bests: 12.54 seconds in the 100 metres hurdles and 22.83 seconds in the 200 metres. Her time in the 100 metres hurdles was a new British record and also the fastest time ever run in a heptathlon. It also equalled Dawn Harper's winning time for the women's 100 metres hurdles final in the 2008 Olympics. Ennis achieved another personal best of 47.49 metres in the javelin and won the final event, the 800 metres, in a time of 2:08.65. The following day Ennis announced she would not compete in the 100 metres hurdles individual event. Her time in the heptathlon 100 metres hurdles would have gained her fourth place in the individual final, and her time in the 200 metres would have placed her seventh in the individual event.

Ennis, along with other British 2012 Olympic gold medal winners, was featured on a special Royal Mail commemorative postage stamp and had a post box on the corner of Division Street and Holly Street in Sheffield city centre painted gold in her honour. The post box was vandalised within hours but repaired immediately by Royal Mail.

Ennis was honoured in various ways. Sheffield artist/cartoonist Pete McKee paid tribute to her in a painting showing her driving an open-top sports car with her gold medal, a javelin, pet labrador Myla and a bottle of Henderson's Relish. Prints were to be sold for the benefit of the Sheffield Children's Hospital charity, of which Ennis is a patron. She was also featured on the cover of a special Olympic edition of The Beano as Ennis the Menace. Sheffield United announced that the Bramall Lane stand at their Bramall Lane stadium would be re-named The Jessica Ennis Stand. Henderson's Relish produced a special limited edition bottle of the condiment with a gold label instead of the usual orange. The label also made use of the company's slogan in relation to Ennis: "Congratulations Jessica - Strong and Northern". In early September Sheffield City Council voted unanimously to award her the Freedom of the City of Sheffield. Ennis was honoured on a 'Wall of Fame' in Sheffield Winter Garden bearing the names of sportspeople from the city who competed in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

In mid August Ennis was welcomed back to Sheffield by an estimated twenty thousand people in Barker's Pool in the city centre. Afterwards a civic reception was held at the City Hall.

In February, Ennis opened a refurbished new-look gym, The Fitness Unlimited, at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. She will also open the new building at Chesterfield College in November.

After winning "European Athlete of the Month" for May, Ennis was selected as EAA "European Female Athlete of the Year" in October, ahead of Anna Chicherova and Barbora Spotakova. Lord Sebastian Coe collected the award on Ennis's behalf as she was unable to attend the ceremony in Malta due to training commitments. In October she was also voted "British Olympic Athlete of the Year" in a public poll run by UK Athletics. Ennis obtained 48 per cent of the vote, narrowly beating Mo Farah. In the same month Ennis won "British Athlete of the Year" from the British Athletics Writers' Association for a fourth successive year, "Ultimate Olympian" at Cosmopolitan's Ultimate Woman of the Year Awards 2012, and also received nominations for IAAF "Female Athlete of the Year" and Sports Jornalists' Association "Sportswoman of the Year",. She then made the final shortlist of three for IAAF "Female Athlete of the Year", alongside Allyson Felix and Valerie Adams. The award went to Felix.

In November Ennis was named the Sunday Times "Sportswoman of the Year", and along with Victoria Pendleton and Ellie Simmonds won "British Ambassadors of the Year" at Harper's Bazaar's Women of the Year Awards 2012. The same month, Ennis was one of six women nominated for Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year and was nominated for William Hill "Sportswoman of the Year. Also in November Ennis's long-time coach Toni Minichiello was named "Coach of the Year" by Sports Coach UK, a body that supports sports training across the country.

In December Ennis was chosen as the Jaguar Academy of Sports "Most Inspirational Sportswoman of the Year" and was voted "Sportswoman of the Year" by the Sports Journalists' Association. Ennis was voted into the top three of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time, as runner-up to Bradley Wiggins and ahead of Andy Murray.

Ennis's autobiography Unbelievable - From My Childhood Dreams to Winning Olympic Gold, was published on 8 November by Hodder and Stoughton and the same day she was guest of honour at the Christmas lights switch-on at a charity event at Meadowhall Shopping Centre, which raised over £8,000 for her nominated charity, the Sheffield Children's Hospital Make It Better appeal. In the book Ennis revealed that in 2010 UK Athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee put pressure on her and Toni Minichiello to move their training base to London, but both "believed in what we were doing in Sheffield and ... stayed strong".

In early November Toni Minichiello announced that Ennis would compete in the heptathlon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a competition Ennis has not previously won, having taken the bronze medal in 2006 and not entering in 2010. The same month Ennis reiterated her desire to switch to the 100 metres hurdles in the long term, but added that it would not be before the World Championships in Moscow in 2013, where she would attempt to regain the heptathlon world title.

Read more about this topic:  Jessica Ennis, Athletics Career

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