Jessica Ennis-Hill could delay her return to the heptathlon until later in the summer after running a disappointing time on her comeback, her coach, Toni Minichiello, has revealed.
Ennis-Hill, who has not competed in a heptathlon since winning gold at London 2012, ran 13.14sec for the 100m hurdles in the Manchester City Games on Saturday – more than half a second outside her personal best. Given that she had not raced since 2013 because of injury and the birth of her son, Reggie, in 2014, most observers considered it a decent first step back. Minichiello, however, worries that competing in a major heptathlon event in Götzis in Austria in two weeks – when Ennis-Hill is due to face her fellow Briton Katarina Johnson-Thompson and the rest of the world’s top multi-eventers – could come too soon. “I’m a little bit disappointed as it’s not as quick as I’d have liked,” admitted Minichiello. “It tells me a few things that we have to work on. The rhythm’s not quite there but we haven’t done a lot of hurdle sessions so I’m happy enough. Hopefully in the next couple of months stuff comes back together and we can improve on that time.”
On Saturday, Ennis-Hill insisted that Götzis remained firmly in her plans. But Minichiello says they will wait until the last minute to make a decision. “I need to put another couple of weeks of training in to know where we are in other events,” he added. “A heptathlon is two days and seven events, so it’s physically demanding. Are we ready to participate in that type of competition? If we’re ready fine. But there are three or four different options after Götzis as well.
“There’s some other indicators in training that says it’s worth going. But are we just going there for the sake of going or to produce a performance that’s an Olympic qualifying score? It’s about all the other events to be in the ball park to score over 6,200.”
That is the tally Ennis-Hill would need to qualify for Rio, but a score of 6,075 in Götzis – 880 points below what she achieved at the London Olympics – would allow her to compete in this year’s World Championships in Beijing in August. However Minichiello admitted that “nothing is off the table at the moment” and Ennis-Hill could focus instead on the 100m hurdles at World Championships.
And Minichiello was at pains to stress the extent of what Ennis-Hill is trying to achieve by making the podium in Rio in 2016 after the birth of her son.
“Denise Lewis scored 6,287 in the year she came back [after the birth of her daughter Lauren in 2002], finished fifth in the World Champs and in the following year at the Olympics she didn’t finish,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing to come back from. We’ll learn as we go because I haven’t got all the answers I’m learning on the hoof.”
Meanwhile in Sunday’s Great Manchester Run over 10km, Gemma Steel finished second behind the Kenyan Betsy Saina in a time of 31min 57sec. Jo Pavey, the European 10,000m champion last year, was 10th. Kenya’s Stephen Sambu won the men’s 10km race in 27:30.
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