The Sheffield girl who’s made us all so proud

Jess Ennis at Barkers Pool
Jess Ennis at Barkers Pool

YOU could have heard the roar from Don Valley when she walked on stage.

20,000-plus voices acclaiming the city’s champion whose Golden smile and breathtaking talent made her THE face of the 2012 Olympics.

Jess was back home and Sheffield wanted her to know just how we all felt, Barkers Pool to Fargate was a ferment of red, white, blue and gold.

And the biggest cheer of them all?

That would be Jessica’s Dad Vinnie.

As soon as his daughter was introduced on stage he was punching the air on the City Hall steps, ’Go on Jess’, he boomed, beside himself with pride as his daughter took the adulation of their home city.

Mum Alison and Jess’s sister Carmel stood with family members and tried to take in the scene, another day to remember in a career of special moments.

Moments so precious the front row of fans had been in place under Jess’s flinty gaze from that colossal poster since before HL Brown’s one’o clock siren had sounded.

Thunder clouds passed above the police helicopters and held on to their rain as they did throughout almost all of the Olympic fortnight.

Blessed? Maybe.

Two weeks ago, at about the time she walked onto the stage last night Jessica Ennis was preparing for the 200 metres leg of the heptathlon in the Olympic Stadium

In that race she gave a sure sign she would not let her chance slip. Her determination over the last 15 metres showed a true champion’s desire.

Tonight she is showing a true champions gold medal and thanking the people she grew up among.

And don’t we all love it.

“I remember going to watch her in the long jump at the Yorkshire Championships when she was 13,” said Jessica’s proud grandad Rod Powell on the steps of the City Hall.

“I’ve been to most of her competitions since. You could aways tell she had talent but the one thing that stood out was her mental strength, even then.

“That Saturday night when she won the gold medal was just incredible. I wasn’t going to go, I thought I’d watch it at home in comfort but I did go and it was fantastic. The atmosphere was unblievable, what a night. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

The worthies got up and said their bit but we weren’t there for speechifying, appropriate though it may have been.

We were there to see Jess and to try re-live a fragment of that Golden Saturday night when we sat transfixed in front of our TVs as Jessica, Mo Farrar and Greg Rutherford brought greatness to our Olympic games.

Then the homecoming is over, the last cheers acknowledged and the crowd shuffles away over discarded flag sticks and gold tinsel.

Jess is spirited inside and pinned in a corner deep in the City Hall’s cavernous ballroom for more interviews

TV lights illuminate that flawless face against the grandeur of the dark wood panelling, sound recordists kneel at her feet, lighting technicians stoop as they spotlight those features.

For a moment they recreate a classical painting of the queen and her court, one small figure bathed in light with such power over so many.

To the world she’s Good Queen Jess, superstar, Olympic gold medallist, the face of London 2012.

But to us she will always be Jessica Ennis from Sheffield, the girl who made us proud because had what it took when it mattered most.