IT was one of the hardest jobs Pete McKee had ever undertaken.
The renowned Sheffield artist and Sheffield Telegraph sports cartoonist admitted he’d been stopped in his tracks by the city’s Golden Girl, Jessica Ennis.
Devotees of McKee know how he portrays people – a big nose or possibly a large pair of sticky-out ears – but how do you go about putting someone as stunning as Jess on canvas?
Pete said: “Jess is the hardest face I’ve ever had to paint because she’s so pretty.
“Usually with men there’s always something I can focus on, be it a large nose, a bald head or a big belly, but with Jess it was really difficult as there’s not a great deal you can pick up on as she’s near-perfect.”
In the end his inevitable style won the day as Pete showed Jess draped in a Union Jack against a row of terrace houses with a little girl in the background.
“I wanted to show that Jess had a normal upbringing; that she wasn’t privileged in any way and that anybody in a similar situation can aspire to greatness and realise their full potential.
“It’s there to be achieved if you’ve got the ability and the determination to succeed.
“We’re talking about everyday people and sending out the message that somewhere there’s the chance to be the next Jess Ennis or Arctic Monkeys.
“The little girl signifies Jess as a youngster and also someone who’s looking at her with admiration and seeing her as the perfect role model.”
Pete presented the picture to Jess after a training session at the English Institute of Sport along with three cartoons which featured Jess in last year’s Telegraph.
Jess said: “It’s brilliant. I really like Pete’s work; now all I have to do is find a good place to hang it…”
The engagement of the 24-year-old heptathlon world champion to long-term boyfriend Andy Hill was revealed earlier this month, with the couple planning to get married after the London 2012 Olympics.