Ennis puts No 1 status on the line

Back from injury: Jessica Ennis is pleased with her comeback
Back from injury: Jessica Ennis is pleased with her comeback

JESSICA Ennis puts her world No 1 ranking on the line this weekend and has been praised for doing so by the head of her sport.

The Sheffield star heads for the big, world class heptathlon meeting in Gotzis, Austria when some of her biggest rivals are due to be in the field.

She does so although still attaining peak fitness after the enforced two-month break in her winter training after suffering an ankle injury.

“I like that attitude,” commented Charles Van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics.

He saw Ennis return to track and field competition at Loughborough last weekend and has praised her willingness to put herself on the line against some of her biggest rivals in Austria.

“Exposing yourself in competition is always a good thing,” added Van Commenee. “It may happen again in a major championships where you are not feeling at 100 per cent. Dealing with problems is part of athletics and being a top athlete.”

Ennis is in danger of losing over the weekend and knows that some of her chief rivals will be looking to get any advantage they can ahead of this year’s World Championships in August.

Ukraine’s Olympic champion Natalyia Dobrynska, who Ennis pipped to the European title last summer, and Olympic silver medallist Hyleas Fountain, from the USA, are both expected to be challenging Ennis this weekend.

The 25-year-old says she is happy with the way things have been going on her comeback and says her winning high jump mark of 1.86 metres on Sunday, in diabolical conditions, has given her a lot of confidence. She also threw 44 metres in the javelin.

At Loughborough last year, a week before she triumphed at the Hypo-meeting in Gotzis, she cleared 1.93m in the high jump and launched the javelin 43.86m. This time she had three failed attempts at 1.92, albeit jumping into a fierce headwind.

Ennis, who only returned to competition the week before in the Manchester city centre street racing event, says she is looking forward to the challenge in Austria.