Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill hopes to return to the heptathlon world stage by the end of 2015 in her bid to defend her Olympic title in Brazil.
The pregnant London 2012 gold medallist will miss this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but remains determined to be back in top-level competition in time for Rio 2016.
The 28-year-old has sought the advice of skeleton bobsledder Shelley Rudman in how to handle returning to elite sport after giving birth.
Rudman claimed the world championship title after taking a break to start her family, and Ennis-Hill is aiming to follow suit.
“It’s very difficult to set a plan in stone at this point, I have to take it as it comes for the next few weeks and months and be very careful when I build back into full training,” said Ennis-Hill.
“I’ve got to make sure I do that properly to avoid injuries and setbacks.
“Hopefully come the end of next year I’ll be back into the full swing of things, a full programme, pretty much as I was before.
“It’s just taking it step by step and working with the coaches and people around me to make sure I’m where I need to be.”
Ennis-Hill vowed to put a healthy pregnancy above any other concerns this summer, but admitted she finds reassurance in the precedent of the likes of Rudman claiming top-level sporting success after similar breaks.
“I think it’s so different for everyone, everyone has different experiences,” she said, while launching the Vitality Run Series at Battersea Park’s Millennium Arena.
“There are lots of different sports people that go away, have children and come back to their sport, but everyone does different events, and heptathlon is a very different event in itself.
“I’ve taken advice from other people who have gone through it, through their events, but it’s going to be very specific and individual to me, and it’s a journey I have to go on myself I think.
“I’ve spoken to Shelley Rudman who is based Sheffield, she’s bob skeleton, she’s given me advice on the things she was doing when she was pregnant.
“She came back to become world champion, so it’s nice to be able to speak to people who have gone away from their sport, then come back and been successful again.
“It’s reassuring to know people can do it and have shown it’s possible.
“But it’s a huge challenge, it takes time and a lot of effort and sacrifice.
“If you’ve got the support of people around you, hopefully that will make things a bit easier.”
*Jessica-Ennis Hill was speaking at the launch of the Vitality Run Series, a major new annual running series. For more information please visit www.vitality.co.uk