Jessica Ennis-Hill will decide whether to compete in next month’s world championships in Beijing after testing herself in the long jump and 200m at the Anniversary Games on Saturday.
When Ennis-Hill came fourth in the prestigious Hypo Meeting in Götzis in May, her first heptathlon in nearly three years following injury and the birth of her son, Reggie, she showed her competitive fire rages as brightly as ever. Now she wants to find out whether she has recaptured enough of the speed that took her to Olympic heptathlon gold at London 2012.
Ennis-Hill, who runs in the 100m hurdles on Friday night, has made it clear she will go to Beijing only if she believes she can get on the podium. The achilles injury that troubled her this season has calmed down and she has trained well since Götzis but on Saturday afternoon she will have a much better idea of where she stands.
However, Jonathan Edwards believes Ennis-Hill should go to Beijing to build confidence before the Rio Olympics next year, regardless of how she performs on Saturday. Britain’s triple jump world record holder said: “If she is fit and healthy, I do not think going to the world championships is a bad idea. Nobody expects her to go to Beijing and become world champion. We know she is still undergoing rehab after long-term injury and having a baby, with all the changes that motherhood brings.”
The long jump, which kicks off the second day of the Anniversary Games, pits Ennis-Hill against her friend and heptathlon rival Katarina Johnson-Thompson, as well as several specialist jumpers, including their fellow Britons Shara Proctor, Jazmin Sawyers and Lorraine Ugen.
Then Ennis-Hill moves on to the 200m, where she faces a stacked field that includes Candyce McGrone, the world No2 who has run 22.08sec this year, Tori Bowie, who is the seventh fastest over 200m this year, and the Olympic 400m champion, Sanya Richards-Ross, who will be outside Ennis-Hill in lane nine.
Ennis-Hill knows she will be a little behind these big names. However, she is not interested in positions but times. At London 2012 she ran the 200m in 22.83. If she could break 23 seconds, assuming the weather is better than Friday night, then it would be a strong indicator that she was ready for Beijing.
Certainly Richards-Ross is looking forward to the challenge, saying: “I have the fondest memories of the Olympic Stadium, so to be able to compete here again is really a blessing. There is going to be great competition and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Elsewhere, another British gold medal winner on 2012’s Super Saturday, and also the European and Commonwealth champion, Greg Rutherford, hopes to recapture his best long jump form against a field that includes Marquis Dendy, who jumped a wind-assisted 8.68m this year, plus the improving Briton Dan Bramble.
“It’s going to be incredibly emotional,” Rutherford said. “I don’t know how I’m going to react but I might have a slight tear or something. Hopefully the competition goes well and I can have a 100% record at the stadium.”
While many eyes will be on David Rudisha’s battle against Nijel Amos in the men’s 800m, the field for the women’s 800m is just as impressive with the world No1, Eunice Sum, facing off against Lynsey Sharp, who she beat to the Commonwealth title last year, and the Dutch athlete, Sifan Hussan, who ran 3:56.05 for 1500m in Monaco last week.
The New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams is also competing as she seeks to recover her best form after surgery. “I love competing in London where you get the very best support,” the double Olympic gold medallist said. “I have family in the UK so that always helps.”
The event finishes with a fantastic-looking women’s 100m final – with the 19-year-old Dina Asher-Smith hoping to go under 11 seconds for the first time as Britain’s national record holder pits her talents against a field including English Gardner, whose 10.79 is the second fastest 100m time in the world this year, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, the third fastest in 10.80, and Murielle Ahouré, the fourth fastest in 10.81.
Asher-Smith, whose best is 11.02, knows what she is up against. “I looked at the start list and I was like: ‘Oh, they’re not playing around,’” she said.
Other stars on show on Saturday include Isaac Makwala and Wayde van Niekerk, who have both run under 44 seconds for the 400m this season; Asbel Kiprop and Matthew Centrowitz in the men’s mile; and Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou and Jenn Suhr in the women’s pole vault.
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