Hill of gold – Jessica Ennis-Hill

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She is currently preparing for her latest challenge – defending her title at the Rio Olympics this summer, after victory in the 2015 World Athletic Championships. The Best You looks at the power and the glory that is Jessica Ennis-Hill

If Jessica Ennis-Hill wins a medal at the upcoming Rio Olympics, she will be only the third track and field athlete to hold on to an Olympic title after giving birth. Her own thoughts mirror how hard the task may be: “To win again in Rio would be unbelievable… it is going to be a really big challenge.”

But if there is any quality that marks the rhythm of her life, it is consistency and dedication – and for that reason The Best You think that if it can be done – then Ennis-Hill has all the right traits.

Let’s look at the facts. She is blessed with great biology and genes. Judging by the past performance of her father, who was a great sprinter and sportsman in his day, Ennis-Hill very likely inherited ACTN3 – the highly sought-after ‘sprint gene’ common among Jamaicans.

From her mother she also draws a powerful competitive streak.

She’s really competitive!” Ennis-Hill laughs. “Even little things like, ‘I’ve made a nicer sandwich than you.'”

Ennis-Hill slotted straight into the world of athletics as soon as she started to take part – showing a flair for athletics when she first took part in a race at the age of 10, netting herself a pair of trainers as a prize. Her near-perfect hurdling technique was spotted early on.

Other sides of Ennis-Hill’s personality reveal that desire for continuity. From the age of 13, she was coached by Yorkshire-based coach Tony Minichiello – the same coach she has to this day. In 2013, she married her childhood sweetheart, Andy Hill, adding the ‘Hill’ surname to her maiden name to create a double-barrelled sobriquet. She still lives in Sheffield, though now her home is a more luxurious place than her childhood, with fantastic views over the moors.

Consistency, too has been the byword for her training regime. She has spent 15 years of highly disciplined dedication to perfecting her fitness and taking her to becoming a Olympic Gold medallist in the heptathlon. Her body is testament to her dedication, famously toned and highly defined, it is the result of a near-obsessive desire for perfection.

Ennis-Hill also knows how to keep her focus and not be distracted by the tangential and irrelevant. When British boxer Tyson Fury commented that, “She slaps up well. When she’s got a dress on she looks quite fit,” she remained calmly detached, refusing to be drawn on her thoughts despite the media-created storm around it. “I’ve not made any comments on it and I’m not going to,” she told the press.

There is always noise around you and you just have to keep focused on what’s important.”

So how does she keep the focus. The words themselves tell some of her strategy. “I use visualisation to think about the perfect technique. If I can get that perfect image in my head, then hopefully it’ll affect my physical performance,” she reveals, of the way she primes herself to succeed.

She also admits she thrives on pressure – but keeps her thoughts to herself, not feeling the need to tell others how great she is, but letting her performance speak for itself.

She also admits to being impatient – another trait of people who are often highly motivated. “I can’t even stand waiting for a cab and I’m always early for everything,” she says. “In training it means I want to run my personal best every session – but it takes time.”

These internal drives were complemented by her parent’s early support for her – keeping her interested in sport by encouraging her in her early years. There have been tough times since. She famously crashed out of the 2008 Olympics after getting a stress fracture. It was her first setback – but she kept at it, and went on to win gold in 2012.

Another change that has brought a new dimension to her career was giving birth to her son, Reggie. Now, she juggles the two sides of her life.

“I still want to be the best athlete I can be, but not at the sacrifice of seeing my son. I want to see him as much as I can,” she admits, telling how for months she suffered severe sleep deprivation because of his strange sleeping patterns as she breastfed him.

Her body, she says, took about a year to come back into shape. But now it’s as honed and sculpted as ever.

She’s a fantastic individual – and we hope she comes back with something gold that she can dangle in front of Reggie’s smiling face!

 

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