Hunger still strong for Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill

Hunger still as strong for Jess
Hunger still as strong for Jess

Jessica Ennis-Hill has warned her rivals her hunger for success remains as strong as ever ahead of her long-awaited return to the sport.

The Olympic heptathlon champion will make her comeback over the 100 metres hurdles in Manchester on Saturday, 22 months on from her last race.

Jess Ennis-Hill in Manchester

Jess Ennis-Hill in Manchester

In that time the 29-year-old has given birth to son Reggie, who is now nine months old, and seen her life - and priorities - change completely.

She has also witnessed the coronation of a new queen of multi-eventing in 22-year-old compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

The Liverpool athlete will also be in action at the Great CityGames, on a purpose-built track on Deansgate in the city centre, competing in the 200m hurdles in her first race since winning pentathlon gold, and breaking Ennis-Hill’s British record, at the European Indoor Championships in Prague in March.

Now a mother, with a gold medal from a home Olympics already on the mantelpiece and a younger rival approaching the peak of her powers, Ennis-Hill could be forgiven if her competitive instinct had been dimmed.

But the Sheffield athlete was having none of it.

She said: “We’re in totally different parts of our careers and our journeys are different as well.

“But our motivations, inspirations and focuses are totally different.

“People keep asking me, ‘Are you still competitive?’ And I think I’ll always be competitive. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t. I would have just stayed at home and done something else.

“Although our focus and motivations are different, I think we’re both very hungry. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Ennis-Hill, who returned to training in November, admitted she would be getting “stuck in at the deep end” in Manchester, up against American world champion Brianna Rollins, Great Britain team-mate and European champion Tiffany Porter and compatriot Lucy Hatton, the European indoor silver medallist over 60m hurdles.

Ennis-Hill, who will compete in front of her son and an expected crowd of 25,000 spectators, knows she is stepping into the unknown.

The hurdles is her strongest event, but minor Achilles niggles have hampered her training, although she said the problem had “settled down a lot”.

She was, though, fully aware of the possibility she could finish last - and was not fazed by it.

“I’ve always been that kind of athlete,” she said.

“I’d rather race against the best and see where I am. I’m getting in better shape than I was, but it’s not clear where I am just yet.”