sport

Ennis picks up CBE from Queen

Athletics star Jessica Ennis received a CBE from the Queen on Thursday - but was so nervous she forgot what she said.

The 27-year-old, who took heptathlon gold in last year's London Games, arrived at Buckingham Palace with fiance Andy Hill, whom she will marry this year.

Ennis, wearing a figure-hugging Antonio Berardi dress, said: "I'm feeling very excited, though it was nerve-wracking before.

"It's incredible to receive this.''

Asked what the Queen said, Ennis replied: "You know when you're so nervous and you forget?

"She just said, 'the summer was amazing, how's training going?', so it was very, very nice.

"It's all going well (training). I've had a bit of a cold so had a few days

off. I've been training hard the past few weeks, it's going well.''

Ennis was at the centre of a feel-good summer last year as Team GB made the nation proud with its Olympics medal haul.

"It still doesn't feel real, to be honest,'' she said.

"It was just an amazing year for British athletics and British sport and to be part of that in such a big way was incredible.''

This year will be another big year as the athlete is set to marry Hill in the

spring.

"It's an exciting year again, with lots of planning and things to look forward to,'' she said.

Asked how many children they would like, she said: "I don't know. I definitely want a family in the future but still have a little bit more I want to achieve athletics-wise...

"I don't know, we're not sure.

"We can't share that with the world, it's private. I don't know, we'll see.''

Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell dedicated her MBE to her parents as she was honoured by the Queen.

The 24-year-old, who won gold in the team pursuit alongside Dani King and Laura Trott at the London 2012 Olympics, was joined by the duo and boyfriend Dan Shand at Buckingham Palace.

After receiving the award, she paid tribute to her parents, saying: "They have supported me ever since I started cycling and back then no-one really thought I'd get very far.

"They have supported me and taken me through the tough times.''

Rowsell, who has suffered from alopecia since she was 10 but has refused to let it affect her determination to race, said her Olympic exploits stood her in good stead for today's potentially nervy meeting with the Queen.

She said: "After the Olympics I don't think I'll ever be nervous for anything

again.

"I don't think you can ever have that level of pressure and expectation so I

honestly wasn't nervous.''

However, the prospect of curtseying in high heels and remembering all the instructions from court ushers almost confused her, but fortunately everything went okay in the end, she said.

"It went well,'' she said. "I was thinking heels and trying to remember what

to do. It was good.

"The Queen said it was a fantastic summer and we had a general chat about it.

"It was nice to meet her one on one.''

Rowsell has come a long way from her early days cycling.

She was talent-spotted in 2004 before the Athens Olympics and has worked hard ever since.

"I was quite embarrassing, quite hopeless. I think they thought they'd got the wrong girl,'' she said.

The champion revealed she hopes one day to work as a sports scientist and plans to begin a degree in natural sciences at the Open University.

The queen of the ring met the Queen of the realm as boxer Nicola Adams collected her MBE.

The Leeds fighter ended 2012 as the first female to win an Olympic boxing gold medal and was awarded her MBE in the New Year Honours list.

Wearing Kurt Geiger shoes and a black Phillip Lim jacket for her big day, she said: "Today I just didn't want to get anything wrong meeting the Queen and receiving my MBE.

"I think it was a bit of a mixture of excitement and nerves rolled into one.

"Usually I'll listen to music and my friends but today I was talking to some

of other guests receiving honours and they were just as nervous as I was.

"We were all calming each other down.''

The flyweight with a mega-watt grin has become one of the most in-demand stars of Team GB's success at the London 2012 Olympics. She now hopes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Adams, 30, who has been a trailblazer for women's sport, said: "I have not achieved everything that I want to achieve as a boxer. There is the world championships and getting a second gold medal at the Rio Olympics sounds good.''

She was watched during the awards ceremony by her proud mother Dee, who first took her to a gym at the age of 12, and her brother Kurtis.

"I think my mum's more proud than I am,'' she said. "She's so happy. It's

gone from strength to strength for me.''