Following a break from the sport for the birth of her child, Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill is well and truly on the comeback trail. Ahead of her first multi-event competition since London 2012, the 29-year-old talks to Ato Boldon for the latest episode of IAAF Inside Athletics.
For someone who has been away from her sport for near enough two years, it is testament to how highly Jessica Ennis-Hill is regarded in the UK when you can say, without hesitation, that she remains the country’s most recognisable female sports star.
Ennis-Hill was the face of London 2012, and her crowning moment came on the middle Saturday of the Olympics when she blew away the competition to win heptathlon gold on what has become known in Britain as Super Saturday.
Nearly three years on, the memory of that heady night remains vivid.
“That feeling of crossing the line in front of a home crowd, it was really like a dream, an amazing dream come true,” the 29-year-old tells Ato Boldon.
With that dream realised, Ennis-Hill’s life was changed forever. Yet aside from the glare of the media spotlight, the Sheffield-born athlete has made changes of her own in the last two years. In 2013 she tied the knot with her long-term partner, Andy, and last year she gave birth to their first son, Reggie.
Despite all the changes that came with success, Ennis-Hill says that remaining grounded was important to her not losing track of herself.
“After the Olympics my life did change,” she admits. “But my set-up and everything stayed the same. I had the same coach, the same training venue, the same people around me.
“That was really important for me, just to keep that all consistent and not make those big changes, and just get back to normality as best I could.”
It's an approach that has worked. The 2009 world heptathlon champion says that now she is “in a really happy place at the moment”. Nonetheless, in what is the mark of a true competitor, it is clear that she is relishing the opportunity of proving herself all over again – what she calls a “whole new challenge”.
“I still feel that there’s more that I want to achieve from my event and from the sport, and that’s given me the motivation to come back and really see what I can do,” she says.
“It’s a huge, huge challenge, and it’s something that really excites me.”
Ennis-Hill made her competitive return to the track when she came third in the 100m hurdles at the Manchester City Games earlier this month. She will compete over seven events for the first time in nearly three years at the Gotzis Hypo-Meeting on the last weekend of this month. She will not be the only British interest, with world junior champion Morgan Lake also competing in the Austrian multi-events meet.
In the exclusive interview, Ennis-Hill also discusses Britain's wealth of talent in the heptathlon, reveals how she enjoyed her pregnancy and talks about the challenge of returning to training after being crowned Olympic champion. Watch the full video below.