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Jessica Ennis: British Heptathlon Queen

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Jessica Ennis: British Heptathlon Queen

Jessica Ennis celebrates her 2012 Olympic victory.

Stu Forster/Getty Images
Many observers and even fellow competitors predicted that Jessica Ennis would do great things in the multi-events arena. They were right. In 2012 Ennis thrilled her home British fans by winning the Olympic heptathlon gold medal with a personal best 6,955 points. She led all heptathlon competitors in the 100 hurdles, plus the 200- and 800-meter runs on her way to victory by 306 points.

Youth Competition:

Ennis took to track and field quickly after her parents brought her to a youth track event in Sheffield, England when she was 10 years old. She began training twice each week as a sprinter, but her versatility soon led her into other events as well. She won the English Schools Championship in the high jump at age 15, but soon became a full-fledged multi-events competitor, winning the European Junior heptathlon championship at age 19, in 2005. She placed a solid third in her first major international senior event that same year, the Universiade in Turkey, with 5,910 points.

Throwing Woes:

Ennis’ Achilles heel early in her career was the javelin throw. She led both the 2003 World Youth Championship and 2004 World Junior Championship after one day of action, but faded on the second day, during the javelin competition. In the 2011 World Championship she dropped 251 points to eventual gold medalist Tatyana Chernova in the javelin and finished 129 points behind Chernova in the final standings. To improve her performance, Ennis began training weekly with former European javelin silver medallist Mick Hill. The training paid off in 2012 as Ennis threw a personal best 47.49 meters in the Olympics for a respectable tenth place among all heptathlon competitors.

Her Left Foot:

Ennis missed the 2008 Olympics due to a stress fracture in her right foot. When she returned to action in 2009 she adjusted her long jump technique, taking off on her left foot to ease the strain on her right.

Career Highlights:

In 2009 Ennis earned a decisive victory in the World Championship heptathlon competition, scoring 6,731 points and defeating the runner-up by 238 points. She took the silver medal at the 2011 World Championship. Likewise, Ennis won the gold medal in the pentathlon at the 2010 World Indoor Championship, then settled for silver in 2012. She won the 2010 European heptathlon title and was voted the European Athlete of the Year in 2012.

Going Straight:

Despite her multi-events success, Ennis still competes regularly in several straight events. In 2011, for example, Ennis won the 60-meter hurdles at the Aviva International meet in Glasgow, finishing in 7.97 seconds, and placed third in the long jump. She won the high jump at the 2011 UK Trials. At the 2012 UK Trials Ennis won the high jump at 1.89 meters and the 100 hurdles in 12.92 seconds, while placing sixth in the long jump. She won the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump at the 2012 UK Indoor Trials and placed sixth in the shot put. She also won six UK high jump or hurdles titles from 2007 through 2009.

Stats:

  • Height: 5 feet, 5 inches
  • Weight: 126 pounds
  • Birth date: January 28, 1986
  • Hometown: Sheffield, Great Britain
  • Personal best: 6,955 points (heptathlon); 4,965 (indoor pentathlon)

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