Mixed bag for Ennis in Gotzis
Jessica Ennis remained positive despite a disappointing performance in the second event of the heptathlon at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis.
Ennis made the perfect start on Saturday to her bid for a third straight victory in Austria with her fastest 100 metre hurdles time in a heptathlon, but then had to settle for a best of 1.85m in the high jump.
The 26-year-old actually extended her lead in the overall competition to 99 points over New Zealand's Sarah Cowley, but with three of her best events on the opening day, the Sheffield athlete is well aware of the need to build a cushion over her rivals.
World champion Tatyana Chernova was 117 points behind Ennis in fourth, with Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska 208 points adrift ahead of the shot and 200m later this afternoon.
"It was a good hurdles, fastest I've run in a heptathlon so I was pleased with that, but just so disappointed with my high jump," Ennis told Press Association Sport.
"It should be way better than that so it's frustrating. Dobrynska and Chernova didn't jump too well either so there is a little positive to take from it, but I'm still disappointed.
"It just didn't happen. The headwind wasn't great, but I can't blame it on that really."
Ennis had earlier shrugged off the bizarre reports that a senior figure at UK Athletics had labelled her "fat" with a superb run in the hurdles, and this time there were no nasty surprises.
On her last competitive appearance at the CityGames in Manchester, Ennis seemingly ran a personal best of 12.75 seconds, only to later discover that just nine hurdles instead of the required 10 had been set out on the track.
This time all 10 hurdles were present and correct - her coach Toni Minichiello making a point of counting them personally - and Ennis cleared them all in 12.81secs to win the final heat.
That was just 0.02s outside her personal best and a stadium record, while also being worth a 32-point lead over Canada's Jessica Zelinka.
Chernova was 79 points behind in fourth and Dobrynska 170 points adrift after finishing last in her heat, although the Ukrainian revealed yesterday her training had been understandably disrupted by the death of her husband and coach Dima Polyakov two months ago.
The high jump is also traditionally one of Ennis's strongest events, but the former world champion was disappointed to only clear 1.85m today, 10cm down on her personal best.
After coming into the competition at 1.76m and clearing her first two heights at the first attempt, Ennis needed two attempts to clear both 1.82m and 1.85m, the latter after making a seemingly successful minor adjustment to her run-up.
However, with a headwind making conditions difficult, she failed all three attempts at 1.88m and was forced to settle for 1,041 points and a total of 2,194.
Ennis' first effort in the shot looked close to a personal best but was ruled a foul as she lost balance and stepped out the front of the circle.
Her second attempt of 14.51m was just 16cm down on her outdoor PB, but after being unable to improve in the final round she found herself down in second place overall.
Lithuania's Austra Skujyte moved into the lead with a best of 16.49m, the 32-year-old going 11 points clear of Ennis, whose total of 3,022 was coincidentally exactly the same after three events as when she set her personal best of 6,823 in winning the European title in Barcelona in 2010.
Ennis saved the best for last with a brilliant new personal best of 22.88s in the 200m, taking 0.23s off her previous best set here last year.
That gave her a lead of 221 points over Skujyte, with Chernova another eight points behind in third.
Her total of 4,113 was just 11 behind her best first-day total from when she won the world title in 2009 and, significantly, 33 in front of her total at the European Championships in Barcelona the following year.
On that occasion she went on to set her personal best of 6,823, just eight points shy of former Olympic champion Denise Lewis' British record.