Ennis: I'm in a happier place
Jessica Ennis knows silver will not do for the golden girl of London 2012, but she also knows there are far worse things than coming second.
The heptathlete will take on Tatyana Chernova and Nataliya Dobrynska, her conquerors at the last two global championships, for the last time before the Games in Gotzis next month, and another defeat would cast more doubt on her chances of becoming Olympic champion.
The Austrian venue is also the place where, four years ago, Ennis discovered the stress fractures in her right foot that ruled her out of the Beijing Olympics and threatened her career.
"I do think back to that year but I don't think back to that time in Gotzis and how I felt because that was a horrible feeling," said 26-year-old Ennis, who will compete in a high-class 100 metres hurdles at the Manchester Great CityGames a week before Gotzis on May 20.
"I don't want to recreate that. I just think about how I came back from that and how much stronger I am. I dealt with a major setback, so the little setbacks I have or whatever happens, hopefully I can put it in perspective."
Ennis responded to the 12-month lay-off by dominating the event in 2009 and 2010, winning world titles outdoors and indoors as well as the European Championships.
She went into last summer's World Championships in Daegu as the hot favourite for gold but was beaten by Chernova, while last month she lost her indoor title to Dobrynska.
But, while she may no longer be the undisputed top dog, Ennis is happy and healthy and relishing the challenge of trying to live up to the hype.
She said: "I feel in a much happier place than I did at this time last year because, although I've picked up silver medals and not gold medals, I'm still competing and doing the training.
"Last year I wasn't able to do the European Indoors and then I missed a lot of training, and as an athlete that's the worst position to be in.
"Obviously you want to win but through not achieving what you've always wanted to achieve you learn a lot. If you're not there you don't really learn anything.
"I'm not the kind of athlete that is motivated by the worry of, 'oh I might come second or third'. I'm motivated by what I want to achieve. That's what drives me on.
"I think it's a bad place to be when you're thinking about the negatives. You're mind's very powerful and if you think about positive things and visualise positive things then they're more likely to happen. And likewise with negative things. You just don't want them in your mind.
"I definitely feel the pressure. I feel a lot of people are watching what I'm doing and how my training's going. But it's a good pressure, it means you're doing something right."
Such is the standard in heptathlon at the moment, one poor event is likely to mean the difference between gold and a minor medal.
In Daegu it was the javelin that let Ennis down, while at the World Indoors in Istanbul a below-par long jump opened the door for Dobrynska.
But Ennis is optimistic she has made progress in both events and threw the javelin 45.66 metres at a meeting in Cosford last weekend.
The Sheffield athlete said: "That's my best opener. I don't think I even threw 45 metres last year so to start with that was a really good position to be in. I need to be throwing 45m minimum."
Of her long jump, Ennis added: "We've done a lot of work on it and I feel things are coming together but you can't really see it until you compete and put it under pressure.
"I think it's definitely going in the right direction and it will be good to put it under pressure in Gotzis. Then we've still got a few more weeks to work on things in training."
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