5 Reasons Why Jessica Ennis Is 2015’s Greatest Athlete (Soz, Usain…)

Jessica Ennis just pulled off one of the most unlikely sporting achievements of the decade – and here's why

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1. She’s just pulled off the greatest comeback of 2015

If you feel like you haven’t seen Jessica Ennis-Hill in a while, that’s because she gave birth to her first child – Reggie – just over a year ago. As anyone who’s had a baby will tell you, the fact that she’s even able to stay awake and upright is a minor miracle – but the fact that she managed to bag the heptathlon gold at the Beijing World Championships over the weekend is nothing short of bananas.

Jessica’s rivals in Beijing had a six-month head start on her

Jessica only returned to training nine months ago (just four months after giving birth!), and began serious heptathlon training in February – meaning her rivals in Beijing, who would’ve begun their training in October, had a six-month head start on her.

On top of that, she’s had to deal with a serious achilles injury that only cleared up in May. Honestly, it’s pretty understandable that…

2. She very nearly didn’t bother going to Beijing

Less than a month ago, Jess was still telling reporters that she wasn’t sure if she was going to compete at the World Championships. She was worried that she just wasn’t ready, and was privately concerned that if she had any chance at a medal, it’d be silver at best.

To go from “Weerrgh, not sure I can do this” to a gold medal in less than a month deserves a second gold medal, on account of its massive, massive unlikeliness.

3. Even her own coach thought she couldn’t do it

He probably feels a bit of a wazzock about it now, but Jessica’s long-term coach Toni Minichiello didn’t think she’d be flying to Beijing, let alone making everyone else look like they were in slo-mo once she got there.

“If you’d told me back in February that Jess would be in Beijing, I would’ve raised an eyebrow,” Toni admits. “We had moments during the winter when I thought, ‘Can I see this girl coming back? I’m not 100% certain…’

“It’s been a tough learning curve for me. If she gets pregnant again, I’ll know what I am doing. Not that I’m encouraging that!”

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4. She’s raised the bar for mumthletes*

Motherhood is still widely considered to mark the beginning of the end of a female athlete’s career – not only because a baby will inevitably draw attention away from a training regime, but also because pregancy results in huge changes in the body, the most serious of which, in athletic terms, is a flood of the hormone relaxin, which loosens the ligaments and leads to weakened stability and increased risk of injury.

I hope that I am an inspiration for other mums

It’s not been easy, but Jess has kicked relaxin’s ass. “It has taken a while,” she admits. “[When I first started], at the time I thought I was doing okay, but looking back now I was not in great shape.”

But she perservered, because she’s rad, and she wants her rad perserverance to inspire other mums. “Now that I’m a mother, I look at other mums like [British long-distance runner] Jo Pavey and mums who go back to work and work incredibly hard and I have so much admiration and appreciation for how hard it is. So I hope that I am an inspiration for other mums: you can do both, and do them really well.”

PIC: adidas

*Yes, mumthletes is totally a real word that we definitely haven’t just made up

5. BONUS POINT: Katie Hopkins doesn’t like her

If Britain’s Worst Woman thinks you’re a wrong’n, you’re obviously doing something right.


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