Jessica Ennis visits Manchester Harriers

Jessica Ennis, World and European Champion, visits Manchester Harriers & AC’s AVIVA STARTRACK session at William Scholes Playing Fields on Thursday 4th August 2011

Born: 28th January 1986, Sheffield
Coach: Toni Miniciello
Club: City of Sheffield
Event: Heptathlon

BACKGROUND: Jessica was born in Sheffield and, as a 9 year old, she took part in the Aviva Startrack at Don Valley Stadium. Her first season as a senior athlete in 2006 proved her potential as she won a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne – her first major championship.

In May 2007 she equalled the 25 year old British High Jump record for women by jumping 1.95m as well as earning an Aviva UK Indoor Championship 60m hurdles Gold. Later that year she excelled in her first World Championships finishing 4th just behind Olympic bronze medalist, Kelly Sotherton.

Early 2008 brought her an Aviva UK Indoor Champions High Jump title. Then, heartbreak in the run up to the Olympics as her dreams were shattered having suffered a stress fracture injury which ruled her out of the Beijing Games.

Jessica became a household name in 2009 after winning Heptathlon Gold at the World Championships in Berlin and, in 2010, matched this performance in the World Indoor Championships, becoming the first British woman ever to do so.

Last summer, Jessica also added European Heptathlon Gold to an ever-growing list of titles. Her points total of 6823 to take the title was just eight points shy of Olympic champion Denise Lewis’ National record.

JESSICA’S VISIT: We were very lucky on Thursday 4th August to get a visit from Jessica Ennis, the World and European Heptathlon Champion who was visiting the area as part of the countrywide promotion of the AVIVA STARTRACK programme for UK Athletics.

Jessica Ennis is Britain’s Olympic Golden Girl and one of our countries brightest hopes for a medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. It was a return to her roots as her love of athletics began at a Startrack athletics session when she was aged nine in Sheffield.

Jessica arrived at our Gatley base at the William Scholes Playing Fields at 10am and was greeted by our Club’s Coaches and Volunteers who give their time freely during the two week Startrack sessions. Next it was over to the track area to be introduced to the youngsters attending the sessions. The subsequent question and answer session soon showed that the youngsters had been following Jessica’s progress and knew all the events in which she competes. Jessica shared some of her training secrets with the youngsters and said she hadn’t realised when she started out, at a similar age to them, what could be achieved. She  told them they have to believe in themselves. Jessica then joined the youngsters in taking part in some of the activities. She had a go at javelin, long jump, agility moves and some track running and gave lots of coaching tips to the youngsters.

Jessica chatted to the coaches and volunteers about her busy training schedule and how injury had kept her from competing in Bejing three years ago. She has just under three weeks before she will start her defence of her world title in Daegu, South Korea, and, even with one eye on London, she will not be holding back. She added “to get to the World Championships you can’t hold back. No one wants to lose – I want to go out there and perform to the best of my ability. The top girls will be there and It will be a great opportunity to see where I am. If all goes well I would love to retain my title, if not I will plan for next year because that is my main focus.”

It may have been a wet day with rain showers throughout the morning but it was a great experience, everyone had lots of fun. The session finished with some track running, lots of questions, photos and autographs, before Jessica had to leave. All the youngsters cheered her on and thanked her for coming along and wished her well for the Olympic’s next year!!!!

Photos here