In the end it took a World record to deprive Jessica Ennis of a gold medal in drama-laden Istanbul.
That’s some consolation for Sheffield’s finest as she reflects on her silver medal and the subsequent loss of her pentathlon title at the World Indoor Championships.
Jess certainly got it right in her pre-event assessment that it was not going to be just a battle between herself and Russian World heptathlon champion Tatyana Chernova that many so-called experts had predicted.
She singled out Olympic champion Natalia Dobrynska as a major threat and that certainly proved to be the case. It was the Ukrainian who this time broke Jessica and the nation’s heart with a new World record of 5,013 points.
Jess had to once again be content with second best albeit with a new British record tally of 4,965 points.
Bitter sweet? Oh yes indeed. And Chernova; she finished fifth.
“I knew there’d be more than just me and Tatyana in it,” said Jess. “Dobrynska has a knack of staying below the radar and then coming out and winning gold medals in Olympic year. She’s in great form.”
Jess also had to contend with a heart-wrenching anti-climax after she’d smashed her personal best by an incredible four seconds in the final, gruelling 800 metres to take victory in 2 mins 8.09 secs, with her rival back in third.
She believed at first she’d won gold when the scoreboard flashed up ‘1 J Ennis 4,965 points’ but then seconds later Dobrynska’s name appeared next to 5.013 points and the letters WR.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Jess. “I’d run my heart out. You don’t know how far in front you are, you lose track but I glanced up, saw my name in first and thought, ‘yeah, I’ve won it.’
“I was so excited but then there was the devastation to know I hadn’t.
“I’m absolutely gutted but at the same time I’m pleased with a pb and a national record. I can’t grumble too much.”
In truth it had been a big ask to beat Dobrynska by more than the 6.48 second margin needed to snatch gold after a poor performance in the long jump had scuppered her hopes just as the javelin had last year in the heptathlon in Daegu.
It had all started so well as she clocked 7.91 seconds in the 60m hurdles - the second fastest of her career and the fastest ever in the pentathlon.
Chernova was a distant second with Dobrynska third. The Russian was never to challenge again unfortunately the same couldn’t be said of the Ukrainian.
Ennis cleared 1.87m at the last attempt in the high jump and then a lifetime best of 14.79 metres in the shot saw her lead the Olympic gold medallist by 29 points.
Then came the defining discipline, the long jump. Her first effort of 6.19 metres was followed by 6.18m and then a catastrophic red flag in her third jump saw her finish seventh while Donbrynska cleared 6.57 metres.
The look on Jessica’s face said it all.
So what now? “I’ve learned loads from this and from Daegu. There are lots of things I think I can improve on. I’m stronger, fitter and in better shape and hopefully I can bring it all together in the summer.” There remains a very fine line between success and failure such is the strength of competition in the heptathlon. Jess knows consistency is the key. She can’t afford to have a below-par performance in any of her seven disciplines.
Easy to say, much more difficult to achieve.
At least the over-hyped great expectations heaped on her may at long last be put into context. As she rightly points out “Dobrynska is now favourite for gold in London.”
But we all know what can happen to favourites!