It’s time to play the numbers game as Jess Ennis gets ready to go for gold.
Istanbul is the place to be tomorrow as Sheffield’s finest ever woman athlete goes head-to-head with the Russian who would be Queen of the multi-eventers, Tatyana Chernova.
The showdown in the pentathlon at the World Indoor Championships has all the hallmarks of a classic encounter. Both are in great form, Jess with a world-leading mark of 7.87 in the 60m hurdles - Chernova ran a PB of 8.02 seconds in the same event at the beginning of the year - and an indoor PB of 6.47 metres in the long jump.
Some people may view it as a mere dress rehearsal for what’s to come in London in July but make no mistake this is serious. Jess is a born winner and she’ll be going all out to put the record straight after Chernova claimed her World heptathlon title in Daegu last year.
“People have put a spin on it (her defeat to Chernova) in a nice way and said it could be seen as a positive and that’s the way to look at it,” said Jess.
“It’s not really got rid of any pressure, it’s put it on in a different kind of way. Instead of she’s definitely going to win now it’s a question of she’s got to do this to get back into the position of winning the gold medal.”
Jess, of course, is the reigning World pentathlon champion and she aims to keep it that way.
Sheffield’s own pocket rocket is just 5ft 5ins tall and gives away two years and nine inches to her Russian rival. Chernova’s winning points tally at the World Championships was 6,880 - only the legendary Carolina Kluft has scored more - compared to Jess’s 6,823.
However the pendulum swings in her favour in the pentathlon with 4,937 points while Chernova’s best tally is 4,855.
The five events - 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot and 800 metres - are all contested on the same day, which makes the competition more intense with less room for error.
Either of them is capable of surpassing the World indoor record of 4991 set by Russia’s Irina Belova 20 years ago while the magical 5,000 points barrier is also within their grasp.
Seb Coe has said that he sees the contest between the two as one of the highlights of the Olympics but Jess doesn’t see it that way, either for London or Istanbul.
“I think everyone tends to see it as a battle between myself and Chernova but I don’t really see it like that.
“I would definitely not write off (Natalia) Dobrynska (Olympic champion) as I think she’s capable of doing something amazing in Olympic year.
AndJennifer Oeser has a lot of potential and Yekaterina Bolshova is definitely one to look out for.
“It’s certainly not just between two people, as either of these girls could quite easily sneak up and take the gold.
“It’s not a one-on-one, it’s a little more complex than that.” There’s mutual respect but Chernova knows that Jess will be gunning for her.
“I think Jessica is a very attractive athlete who shows you don’t need to be tall. You just need a goal.
“When she was the leader I wanted to be in her place; now it’s the other way round and she will be thinking that.”
In the end the numbers game may well extend to four with Dobrynska and Russian newcomer Bolshova, who is at the top of this year’s world lists, joining the medal quest.
Sheffield and GB hopes that when all the sand has settled, Jess Ennis will once again be bringing home that gold medal.
Time to get the party started!