‘Girls, don’t be afraid of muscles’

Great Britain's Jessica Ennis celebrates with her gold medal during her Olympic homecoming in Sheffield city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 17, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Homecoming. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Great Britain's Jessica Ennis celebrates with her gold medal during her Olympic homecoming in Sheffield city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 17, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Homecoming. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

SHE’S the golden girl of Sheffield, but Jessica Ennis fears young girls may be unwilling to try to follow her example because they are “afraid” taking up sport will make them look too muscular.

Jessica, who is one of five women on the 12-strong shortlist for the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, admitted she too was concerned about weight training and had to be reassured by her coach that it would be worth it to win medals.

She told Radio Times: “It’s important that girls aren’t afraid of sport. I remember when I first started doing weight training,

“I didn’t want to be any good at it because I didn’t want to be all muscly.

“My coach sat me down and said that if I had more muscles than the average woman, but won an Olympic gold medal, it would be worth it.

“He was right, but it’s hard when you’re younger and want to look like everyone else.”

The 26-year-old hopes her success may have a positive effect on girls who want to take up athletics.

“There’s a training group at home in Sheffield and some of the younger girls won’t do weights because their friends at school aren’t muscly and they don’t want to be either,” she said.

“I’m always saying to them that strong can look good. Sport is a good thing.”

The 26-year-old Olympic poster girl said it was important to have positive female role models, adding: ‘We need more coverage of women’s sport, and we need to get women involved in coaching and administration.’

Jessica Ennis is among the cover stars for the new Radio Times. The magazine has published 12 different covers, each with one of the Sports Personality nominees.

Last year judges were criticised for failing to recognise the achievements of women, but this year the likes of rower Katherine Grainger and Ellie Simmonds are on the list.