LONDON - Reuters
Jessica Ennis, whose beaming smile and pre-Games performances made her a poster girl for the London Olympics, lives up to expectations and wins a gold medal
Britain's Jessica Ennis celebrates winning her women's heptathlon 800m heat at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium. REUTERS photo
It was only as she crossed the line in the final event of the heptathlon to a thunderous cheer that Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis let her emotions show.
Gone was the heartache of watching the Beijing Olympics on telelvision four years ago as she recovered from an ankle injury.
Ennis had put in the performance of her life over two days and seven events in London, and with a massive 6,955 points she was now the champion.
The poster girl of the London Games appeared oblivious to the noise and excitement around her in the Olympic stadium, barely acknowledging the cameras that followed her every move.
She even retained a look of calm focus after a personal best in the javelin, which was the event that lost her the world title to Russian
Tatyana Chernova last year.
But as the 26-year-old crossed the finish after two laps of the track, she held her arms aloft in joy and there were tears in her eyes as she led the heptathletes lap of honor draped in a Union Jack to the sound of David Bowie’s “We Could Be Heroes”.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m still in shock,” a beaming Ennis told a news conference.
“It’s been brilliant couple of days. Coming into this championship everyone expected me to win the gold medal before I even stepped on the track.
“Its a mix of everything, obviously missing Beijing and having disappointment there and having to put so much work in these past two years and then having a disappointment in Daegu (world championships).
“So much pressure has been put on me but I’ve had so much support... and just actually realizing I’ve achieved one of my greatest goals.” Superb form
Ennis came into the competition in superb form having set a national heptathlon record in Austria in May but there were still lingering doubts over her javelin which was weaker that that of her main medal rivals.
They did not last as, with perfect timing, Ennis threw a personal best of 47.49 meters in the penultimate event to all but seal the gold.
“It was really important,” the Briton said of the javelin.
“Last year it let me down massively but also at the same time it wasn’t a major problem and I went back home and worked on it really hard with my javelin coach (former world bronze medallist) Mick (Hill)... and I’ve been confident with it since.”
Ennis began the competition in storming form with a world mark of 12.54 for the 100 hurdles in the heptathlon and a personal best in the 200 on her way to her highest ever day-one total on Friday.
“I knew I was in the best shape of my life and just believing that I could do it really.
“Having the crowd here it meant so much and the support that I’ve had was unbelievable. Starting off with the hurdles and doing so well and the momentum kind of rolled into the rest of the events.”
She finished like a true champion, kicking down the home straight of the 800 metres to ensure she was first across the line.
“I was really nervous I felt really emotional after the javelin because it was so close and I wanted to make sure I finished the job off properly and not get carried away,” said Ennis.
“I think the crowd supported me so much thought I’d give a little bit back and leave it all on the track.”
Ennis’s total of 6,955 has only been bettered by three women and was 306 points more than the total accrued by silver medalist Lilli Scharzkopf of Germany.