SHEFFIELD’s world and European champion Jessica Ennis is on course for a new personal best and British record after a stunning return to heptathlon action in Gotzis.
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Ennis missed seven weeks of training earlier this year with an ankle tendon injury which forced her to skip the European Indoor Championships in Paris.
The 25-year-old admitted on Friday that she had become increasingly concerned with the injury, which “came on overnight” in training and has still not been fully diagnosed.
However, the Sheffield athlete belied those concerns in some style with victories in the 100 metre hurdles and high jump and a personal best over 200m.
That gave her a total of 4,097 points after the first day, a lead of 300 points over Canada’s Jessica Zelinka and 17 more than at the same stage of the European Championships last year.
Ennis went on to record a personal best of 6,823 in Barcelona, just eight behind the British record set by Denise Lewis in Talence in 2000.
She was disappointed with her performance in the 100m hurdles despite winning in a time of 13.03s, but made amends by overcoming difficulties at 1.85m and 1.88m to win the high jump with a best of 1.91m.
The shot put is one of her weakest disciplines and she was forced to settle for a best of 13.94m, but the 200m brought a new personal best of 23.11s as she finished second behind Holland’s Dafne Schippers, who also recorded a new PB of 22.90.
Ennis ended the day speaking to reporters while taking an ice bath in the bowels of the stadium, but was understandably delighted with her performance.
“I’m very, very pleased with the first day,” she said. “I was disappointed with the hurdles and shot put but really happy with the 200m, having a PB. My PB is from 2007 so it’s a been a long time coming.
“I’m really, really pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t sure where I was at and what kind of score I was after and to have done a PB in the 200 I’m really happy.
“I thought I’d be a little behind and perhaps I am with a couple of events but generally my running’s good and I’m happy with the shape I’m in.
“I knew the 200m was quick because I knew she (Schippers) was quick. I got a good start and it was a really good race. She was absolutely rapid and dragged me along to a PB. We had the perfect wind (+1.8m per second), the sun was out and a really fast race was what I needed.”
Asked about the prospects of a British record, Ennis added: “We’ll see how it goes. I’m very happy but I just want to get some rest and get a good day in tomorrow. I’m not getting too carried away just yet.
“I really hope to start the day with a good positive long jump and hopefully follow that with a good javelin and good 800m. I had a good second day in Barcelona. I’m not in bad shape so I hope I can reproduce that.”