TV Times talks to Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennis about carrying the hopes of a nation, and why she won’t settle for anything less than gold…
How are you coping in the build up to the Games?
“I haven’t had any sleepless nights yet, but it’s slowly creeping up on me. I’m starting to think about it more than I have in previous weeks, but I think the nerves will really kick in once we get into the Olympic village.”
How have you coped with the media frenzy that has surrounded you in the run-up?
“It’s weird to see my face on magazines and really surreal to see my adverts on TV, but it’s also very exciting and flattering. You don’t get the chance to do things like this very often, so it’s been really fun to do some glamorous photo shoots away from my tracksuits and running kit – when I have grandkids I will have some really nice pictures to show them!”
Are you confident?
“I’m ready, I’ve done all I can and now I just want to get out there and do it – I want to be on that starting line feeling fit and healthy. All of the events are going to be a challenge and I’ve got to try to beat my personal bests. Every event is just as important as the other so I need to make sure that I get everything right – you’ve got to put in that extra special performance. I want that gold medal. If someone had told me a few years ago that I’d win a silver medal at the Olympics I’d have been happy with that, but you reach a certain position, win events and suddenly silver isn’t enough any more. I’m going to give it my best shot.”
And what about performing in front or your home crowd?
“It’s going to be an amazing, unique experience and I know they’ll all get behind all the British athletes so it will be brilliant. The crowd definitely helps in the final event, which is the 800m. The start of that race is the most nerve-racking moment in the competition and I know it sounds cheesy, but the crowd does give me a lift and help me get round.”
Will your family be watching?
“Yes, my mum Alison, dad Vinnie, sister Carmel and fiance Andy have all got tickets and they are really excited, but they’re anxious for me too. They’ve seen the build up and the pressure on my shoulders, but they’re trying to keep things as normal as possible – I can tell they’re nervous though!”
What will you be doing afterwards?
“My whole life is athletics at the moment and you have to make sacrifices, but when it finishes I’m going to go on holiday and catch up with all my friends. One of my closest friends is expecting her first child in September so I’m looking forward to spending some time with her and her little boy. Also Andy and I are getting married next year, so training will be off the agenda for a good few weeks and it will be full steam ahead with the wedding.”
*Jessica begins her gold medal bid in the heptathlon heats on Friday, August 3