Ennis homes in on heptathlon gold after brilliant long jump and personal best in javelin
13:53 GMT, 4 August 2012
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Jessica Ennis stands just 800 metres away from Olympic heptathlon gold after she continued to dominate the competition at London 2012.
Great Britain's golden girl of the Olympics followed an excellent 6.48m in the long jump with a personal best in the javelin – her third in the competition – of 47.49m.
Ennis will take a massive 188-point lead into the final event this evening and only an unexpected injury setback realistically could prevent her following in the footsteps of fellow Briton Denise Lewis, who won the title in Sydney in 2000.
If Ennis runs a time of around two minutes 10 seconds in the 800m, nearest challenger Austra Skujyte of Lithuania would need to clock close to 1min 57secs to win, a time which would be good enough to get in the Olympic individual final.
Thumbs up: Jessica Ennis is all set to win Great Britain's first track gold of the Games
personal best of 2:15.92 was set in the Athens Olympics in 2004, while
Ennis set hers of 2:07.81 on the way to silver at the World
Championships in Daegu last year.
Ennis could even become only the
fourth woman in history to score 7,000 points with a run of 2:05.69
tonight, while equalling her personal best would give her 6,968 and
fifth place on the all-time standings.
However, such achievements will be
secondary to simply making sure of victory, four years after the
26-year-old was forced to watch the Beijing Games on television after
suffering a career-threatening foot injury.
'Obviously I was anxious coming in
today, the long jump has been up and down all year so I was quite
worried about that,' Ennis said. 'I've done a lot of no jumps this year
which I don't normally do.
On song: Ennis threw a personal best 47.49m in the javelin to lead the standing with one event to go
'I just kept thinking “Oh God am I
going to throw it away doing three no jumps” because it's so easy to
do. It was a massive, massive relief to have got that right.
'To have got a solid jump in and a PB
in the javelin is more than I could have asked for. It's a great way to
go into the 800 so I just want to go back and rest a bit and see what
I've got left in my legs.”
As for reaching 7,000 points, Ennis added: 'I think I've got to run 2.05
which is a tough time. I will just see what's left in my legs. I'll go
for it, I'll give it everything.'
On target: Ennis looks set to add an Olympic gold medal to her trophy cabinet
Ennis began day two with a lead of 184 points after personal bests in
the 100m hurdles and 200m, and extended her advantage over Skujyte to
258 points with a leap of 6.48m in the final round of the long jump.
That was just three centimetres down on her personal best, with world
champion Tatyana Chernova the only athlete to jump further than Ennis. A
leap of 6.54m moved the Russian up from ninth to third, but reigning
Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska's challenge ended after two fouls
and a last aborted attempt of 3.70m dropped her to 33rd.
Better was to come in the javelin as Ennis more than made up for the
terrible performance in Daegu which cost her the world title, throwing
46.61m, 45.99m and then a PB of 47.49m in the final round.
Skujyte managed 51.13m to close the gap by 70 points, but Ennis looks
destined to deliver Britain's first athletics gold around 25 minutes
before Mo Farah contests the 10,000m final.
Golden girl: Ennis looks set to continue GB's astonishing medal haul
Ennis has struggled with her run-up in the long jump
this season, committing seven fouls in 12 attempts during two
competitions earlier this summer, and managed just 5.95m with her first
However, the 26-year-old then hit the
board perfectly on her second to soar out to 6.40m, just 11cm down on
her personal best, and there was better still to come in the final round
as another capacity 80,000 crowd roared the former world champion down
the runway and out to 6.48m for 1,001 points.
champion Tatyana Chernova was the only athlete to jump further than
Ennis, a leap of 6.54m moving her up from ninth to third and 290 points
behind Ennis, but reigning Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska's
challenge is over after two fouls and a last aborted attempt of 3.70m
dropped her to 33rd.
Go Jess: Ennis is closing in on the heptathlon gold medal after a superb performance in the long jump
Ennis began her quest for Olympic gold on a tidal wave of love.
She was swept along by the British
support among the 80,000 who had filled the Olympic Stadium before
breakfast on Friday for one reason only: our Jess, the nation’s darling
and golden girl. And by the day’s end they had lifted her to the
overnight lead and the largest first-day score of her life.
on the first morning! I do not remember the last time that’s
happened,’ said IAAF president Lamine Diack, who at 79 has been around
to see more Olympic Games than most.
Giant leap: Ennis competes in the women's heptathlon long jump event at the Olympic Stadium
Ennis’s first name had only to be mentioned for the roar to bounce around the bowl and drown out the announcer. The lady herself smiled broadly. Pressure, what pressure She was determined to enjoy her first Olympics, and the crowd with her.
And how she rewarded them! From the
moment she began the first of seven events that would keep her occupied
for two days, she returned their passion and emotion in spades.
was not even expected to win her heat of the opening 100 metres hurdles
because next to her was Jessica Zelinka, the Canadian 100m hurdles
champion. So the result was astonishing.
Out in front: Ennis extended her advantage over Lithuania's Austra Skujyte to 258 points
The music booming out was from the film Kick-Ass and this was a performance beyond even Ennis’s dreams, an improvement of a quarter of a second on what she had run before. The scoring tables were entering unknown realms; no hurdler has ever run as fast as 12.54sec in a heptathlon.
Multi-event athletes are supposed to
be the jack of all trades and masters, or mistresses, of none. Steve
Ovett, the great miler, dismissed decathlon in the days of Daley
Thompson as ‘nine Mickey Mouse events and the 1500 metres’.
ancient Greeks saw the winner as Victor Ludorum, the champion of
champions. Modern Americans are of the same attitude, most probably
because their people win multi-events so often and presently own the
world record in decathlon and heptathlon. The contrary view — that
multi-events are for the sport’s jetsam from real events — is more
widespread in the athletic fraternity
Ennis is good enough to match any sprint hurdler. Her time of 12.54sec
would have won every Olympic gold in the event. Zelinka, the specialist
hurdler, ran the fastest of her career and was still 0.11sec behind
Flying: The Sheffield girl battled back from a poor start to record an excellent 6.48m jump
Ennis’s time returned to a British-born athlete the British record for the event annexed briefly by the American cuckoo in the nest, Tiffany Porter. It earned Ennis 1,195 points, so immediately she was up on the score she recorded in Gotzis, Austria, 10 weeks ago, when she went on to set a new British record.
Indeed she was way ahead of what she
required to join the exalted ranks of the three women who have exceeded
7,000 points and quicker than American Jackie Joyner-Kersee when she set
the world record — which still stands — at 7,291 points while winning
Olympic gold in 1988.
significantly, in the contest for gold here she was 142 points ahead of
world champion Tatyana Chernova and 155 ahead of defending Olympic
champion Nataliya Dobrynska. ‘Nice start,’ tweeted Ennis’s coach Toni
Minichiello, the master of understatement.
Roar of delight: Ennis celebrates her brilliant recovery in the long jump
Ennis could not believe it. ‘I’m still in shock from the hurdles, to be honest,’ she said when she left the arena for lunch in the Athletes’ Village and a quick nap before Friday evening’s continuation.
‘I can’t believe I ran that time. What a great start! I knew I was in shape to run 12.7 or 8 but not 12.5.’
But Skujyte does not run as well as
she throws, and Ennis sprints a lot better. Skujyte managed 25.43 in the
200m; in the final heat Ennis flashed over the track in 22.83, the
fastest of her career.
overnight score was 4,158, a lead over Skujyte, the nearest challenger,
of 184 points. More significantly Chernova was back in ninth and
Dobrynska 10th, neither within 300 points of Ennis. They are out of
contention for gold.
Best of British: Ennis thanks the crowd in the Olympic Stadium for their raucous support
Ennis is not so far ahead of others that we can hang a gold round her neck. Others will be better than her in javelin, and she may be reduced to what she fears most — a burn-up for gold over 800m on Saturday evening.
But she has something on her side the others cannot command — the best part of 80,000 fans, who lifted her to new heights and are back today to do their bit to bring home the gold medal.