It’s medals not rankings for Jess

Sheffield's world champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis back in training at the EIS in Sheffield. In ther gym with coach Toni Minichiello
Sheffield's world champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis back in training at the EIS in Sheffield. In ther gym with coach Toni Minichiello

World rankings are one thing, medals another ... and there’s no denying which takes top priority as far as Toni Minichiello is concerned.

It’s medals every time and that is why Jess Ennis’ coach and mentor is taking an objective view of this weekend’s world class heptathlon meeting in Austria.

Under normal circumstances Sheffield’s own wonder woman would be expected to come away with yet another victory over her main rivals as she has done in the past but this time things are a little different.

Jess has missed eight weeks training because of a niggling ankle/calf injury which has got to impact on even someone of the calibre of the World’s No1 multi-eventer.

The Gotzis competition will be much more about gauging fitness levels and preparing for the main event of the year - defending her title at the World Championships in South Korea in August.

Charles Van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, has already praised her for putting her world ranking on the line by going into the meeting while still short of peak fitness.

“I like that attitude,” said Van Commenee. “Exposing yourself in competition is always a good thing.

“It may happen again in a major championships where you are not feeling 100 per cent.

“Dealing with problems is part of athletics and being a top athlete.”

In contrast, Minichiello knows where his and his star athlete’s priorities lie.

He said: “Jess feels good and confident within herself and is looking forward to competing. Considering the amount of training she’s missed she’s in incredibly good shape and I was very pleased with the results she had in Loughborough and Manchester.

“It’s all about timing. People can talk about her World No1 ranking being put to the test but this competition is about preparing for the World Championships later this year.

“Ranking lists are one thing and they are important in their own right but our main focus has always been on winning medals at major championships.”

Olympic gold and silver medallists Natalyia Dobrynska and Hyleas Fountain are expected to be Ennis’ main challengers and Toni has admitted that they’ve set a points target.

“We’ve got a score in our heads and I’ll be happy if Jess comes very close to it or exceeds it. If it’s below expectations we’ll have a look and deal with it accordingly,” he added.

The Loughborough International meeting saw her achieve a high jump of 1.86 metres, despite diabolical conditions, and a huge wind assisted throw of 44.49 metres in the javelin.

They fly out today - Icelandic volcanic ash cloud permitting!