Athletics: Jessica Ennis-Hill still unsure of heptathlon return

Jessica Ennis-Hill in the javelin during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough. Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Jessica Ennis-Hill in the javelin during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough. Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Jessica Ennis-Hill insists she is still in the dark over whether she will be ready to make her heptathlon return at the end of the month.

The Olympic champion is due to compete in her first seven-event competition since landing gold at London 2012 at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, but remains unsure of her readiness after continuing her comeback with steady performances in the long jump and javelin at the Loughborough International Athletics meeting on Sunday.

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the long jump during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the long jump during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium

The 29-year-old, who returned to action for the first time in almost two years last weekend, recorded 6.16 metres in the long jump and 43.88m in the javelin at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium.

Both marks were well down on her personal bests, but the javelin in particular was a solid season opener and Ennis-Hill declared herself “reasonably happy” with her afternoon’s work, adding: “I don’t think I can be too disappointed, but obviously I want to improve.”

She placed third in the long jump and sixth in the javelin.

Ennis-Hill admitted lacking race sharpness after making her highly-anticipated comeback over the 100 metres hurdles at the Great CityGames in Manchester last Saturday, her first race since the birth of her son Reggie, and this was another chance for the Olympic champion to assess her readiness for Gotzis.

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the javelin during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough.

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the javelin during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough.

And there were more signs of understandable rustiness, especially in the long jump.

Her training has been hampered by problems to both her Achilles and she said the injury had “been a little bit up and down through the week” following her run in Manchester.

She said: “I’ve had to manage it and get treatment. I’ve not been able to do the full amount of training I’ve wanted to do.”

The withdrawal of Katarina Johnson-Thompson from Gotzis - following a knee issue - means the event in Austria can no longer be billed as a battle between the new queen of multi-eventing and the returning hero.

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the javelin

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the javelin

The Sheffield athlete’s main target is the 6,200 points required to qualify for the Rio Olympics, no sweat for the Ennis-Hill of 2012, but more of an ask for an athlete in the infancy of the biggest challenge of her career.

It could be that Gotzis simply comes too soon.

Her coach Toni Minichiello warned after her Manchester run that she would only head to Austria if she was 100 per cent ready, pointing out there would be other chances to achieve the qualifying mark later in the year.

And Ennis-Hill admitted on Sunday the picture was no clearer.

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the long jump

Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the long jump

She said: “It’s a hard one because my aim is to come out this year and I want to get the qualifying for the Olympics.

“If I can go out there and do that then great, that’s what we’re aiming to do. I don’t want to go there and have to pull out.

“We need to sit down and have a bit of a chat, see how I come out of today as well, that will be a good indicator.

“It’s hard to say, I honestly couldn’t really say now, I don’t know.

“If I’m not going to go there and get the qualifying there’s no way I would do it. If I am ready to go there and get the qualifying it’s probably the best thing to go and get it under my belt and then I can move on and not be stressing I’ve not qualified for the Olympics.”

Although the focus remains Rio, Ennis-Hill said the World Championships in Beijing in August were “definitely on the agenda”.

Jessica Ennis-Hill in the long jump during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough

Jessica Ennis-Hill in the long jump during the Loughborough International at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium, Loughborough

It is the problems which have affected both her Achilles that Ennis-Hill highlighted as her biggest frustration.

“The hardest thing has been injuries, my Achilles, I absolutely hate them,” she said. “The hardest thing has been wanting to do the training and doing a lot of the training, but having to be held back through injury.

“I think it’s something that can be managed, it’s not a disastrous injury.”