Athletics: Jessica Ennis set for title defence

Golden girl: Jessica Ennis.
Golden girl: Jessica Ennis.

Jessica Ennis insists she is not immune to the pressure to keep on winning ahead of the defence of her world heptathlon title in Daegu.

The 25-year-old kicks off her bid to retain her crown on Monday in her biggest test before going for gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

The Sheffield athlete announced her arrival on the global stage by winning gold at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009 and has yet to be defeated in the seven-event competition since.

“As you do well and the more successful you are, obviously more pressure comes,” said Ennis, who is also the reigning European outdoor and world indoor champion.

“I definitely feel pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself so I just try and block out what other people are thinking.

“I don’t read anything that anyone’s writing or go on the internet before the competition, because I don’t really want to know. I know what I’m capable of doing and I just hope I can produce that over the two days.

“I know it (the pressure) is there, but even if it wasn’t there from everyone else it would still be there from myself.”

Ennis’ run of success has come after suffering a career-threatening triple stress fracture in right foot which ruled her out of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“If I’m stressed and worried and anxious about going out and competing then (at least) I know I’m in great shape, I’ve done all the training I need to do and I’m in a brilliant position to perform well,” she said.

Ennis has plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the days ahead, having set personal bests in the 200 metres, 800m, 110m hurdles and indoors in the shot put this year.

“I’m happy with the way my running’s been going and weights, and I just feel stronger,” she added.

“I feel in really good shape and the times I’ve been running in training and some of my performances show I’m definitely ready to go.”

Despite her long run of heptathlon victories, the latest in Gotzis in May, Ennis is not in danger of growing complacent, especially with the defining moment of her career to come on home soil next year.

“I think that as a heptathlete everyone knows that it doesn’t really matter what your past performances are,” the Sheffield woman said.

“Things can go really well for you and things can go terribly for you. I think everyone goes into the event on zero and not really knowing what’s going to happen.”

One thing that does seem certain, though, is that Ennis will at some point break Denise Lewis’ 11-year-old British record.

Ennis’ personal best of 6823 points from the European Championships in Barcelona last year is just eight shy of Lewis’ mark.

“I’d love to break that record, but I don’t want to become too fixated on it,” she said.

“I’m quite close to it so I’m hoping one day.”