Jessica Ennis-Hill was made a Dame in this year’s New Year’s Honours list for her incredible services and dedication to athletics. In October last year she announced she would be retiring from the world of Athletics. It was a sad day for the sport hearing that one of Britain’s best sports stars would be leaving the track, but throughout her career she has been a true performer and pleasure to watch, and unfortunately it’s her time to step back and enjoy her own personal life away.
I choose Ennis-Hill for the first Sportswomen in Spotlight as she made me excited in a sport I had never even heard of before, the Heptathlon. I think the power to not only capture my attention but the that of the entire public is a skill. What is the Heptathlon? It’s not merely one event it’s seven. In order to win you must not be just a master of one discipline but the expert in all. From short sprints in the 100m, 200m and 800m, to being the best in jumping both high and long and of course using all strength to throw both a shotput and javelin. All events that require completely different muscles, techniques and discipline. It’s an incredible set of events to watch and the sport caught my attention and when you mention heptathlon to anyone, Ennis-Hill will immediately come into topic of conversation.
Most of us will remember the first time we saw Ennis-Hill was when she won Gold in the 2012 Olympics in London in the Heptathlon. However since a young age this woman from Sheffield has dominated the athletic scene. She entered her first youth and junior competitions in 2000 and from that moment onwards this girl was destined for success.
This prepared her for what was to come later in her career winning her first senior medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne by claiming bronze. Her medal rush began in 2009 when she was crowned the World Champion, then in 2010 another Gold came her way in the European Championships, she has also recently been awarded the 2011 World Champion title after Chernova was stripped of the Gold for doping. But it was in 2012 when she really came into her own being a part of Super Saturday in the London 2012 Olympics taking home the Gold in front of her home crowd winning by a clear 300 points! She caught our attention and we were listening.
After the London Olympics Ennis-Hill took time away from the track to have her son, Reggie. But a mere year later we saw her return to the track in her finest to bring home Gold and retain her World Champion title. To have a baby, be a mother and return to the highest level of her sport in less than a year is an achievement in itself, let alone to win a medal. She inspires sportswomen, particularly women who want to have a family but still want manage their sport, no matter what level that sport is, Ennis-Hill showed us how powerful our bodies are and how anything is possible.
Ennis-Hills determination, passion and exceptional skill meant that she was chosen to be one of Great Britain’s Sports Stars to feature on GB’s 2016 Rio Olympic promotional posters and adverts. In the 2016 Olympics held in Rio Ennis-Hill got to stand on that medal podium once more as she won Silver for Team GB, which helped make the Rio Olympics one of Team GB’s most successful Olympics ever.
We will miss Ennis-Hill as she truly inspired a nation and we’ve got to see her grow from competing in youth games to winning Golds and holding world titles. Although we won’t get to see Ennis-Hill compete on the track again, we hope this won’t be the last we get to see of her and it would be a true shame to let someone as phenomenal both on and off the track as her to disappear. She captivated the public and gave hope to young sportswomen but also sporting mothers that anything is possible. We hope she enjoys her time away from the track, but we also hope she doesn’t stay away for too long and continues to stay involved in a sport that she put into the spotlight.