Jessica Ennis - The golden girl of 2012

Super-fit athlete Jessica Ennis talks high heels and Olympic hopes

For those who signed up for the gym straight after Christmas and still haven’t been, spare a thought for Jessica Ennis, the heptathlete who they’re saying could be our golden girl in the 2012 Olympics.

The training from now until next year will be intense for the 25-year-old and she admits that for her, the problem isn’t eating too much over the festive season but whether she’s getting enough food to fuel her athletic performance.

Phew! No wonder she was taking the chance to enjoy herself while she could, when she turned up for a party at the swish Room restaurant on King Street, to celebrate the opening of the new Omega Trafford centre shop.

Considered one of the pin-ups of the London Olympics, Ennis is also by default , an ambassador of Omega, official timekeeper for the games but for now she’s swapped tracksuit and trainers for a sparkly shift and skyscraper heels - aren’t they dangerous? Might she fall off them?She laughs.

‘I wear them occasionally. I obviously don’t wear these every day because I don’t think I could cope. It’s nice to come to events like this and dress up a bit.

So what’s it like being the ‘face of the Olympics?’‘It’s quite a bit of pressure but it’s really nice to be honest,’  admits Jessica who has already clinched third place in last month’s Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

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‘It’s great to have had a really good year last year and so I’m really looking forward to next year and the Olympics, it’s also nice to be in this position and be looked at as somebody who could potentially win a gold medal, so I can live with that.’

‘Things definitely change for you when you start winning medals and there’s lots more media interest and It’s nice because it’s a path into a different style of life - you get to go to certain events and meet different people -  but you have to make sure you’re training at the same time and not forgetting while we’re there so it’s kind of a balancing act’.She never came over from her native Sheffield to Manchester for the 2001 Commonwealth Games but  agrees that they were probably important in helping with the success of the London bid.

‘We’ve got so many sporting venues across the country and in Manchester particularly and it’s great because obviously different countries will come here and prepare  and all get ready for the Olympics through the Commonwealth Games and I think that did help’

Now she’s older though, she enjoys coming to Manchester both for work and play.‘I competed here a few times because we had the championships here,’     she says.

‘To be honest, Manchester track, bar Sheffield is one of my favourites. I also come here for the shopping, to Selfridges and Harvey Nichols and all the high street shops. It’s good to come across and do a bit of shopping.’

2011 will without a doubt, be the most crucial year of her life. She might even find herself up there with the likes of Sally Gunnell and Kelly Holmes eventually but for now she’s trying to keep her feet on the ground.‘It’s really hard to imagine what it will be like when the Olympics is finally here,’ she explains.

‘ Of course the build-up is starting already and everyone’s really excited and looking forward to it. Hopefully, I’ll be in great shape and injury free and stepping into that stadium with a massive home crowd will be - yeah - an unforgettable moment.’

She believes the Games will also have a great legacy and has already experienced he buzz around sport it is generating and hopes it inspires younger kids to take up sport and keep it going after 2012, in the same way she was inspired: ‘When I was about nine or 10 I went to a summer camp in Sheffield  and that was my first taste of athletics and then I started training every week, met my coach and it went from there.

I definitely followed the athletes, Linford Christie Sally Gunnell, we have so many amazing British athletes, then my coach put a lot of time and effort into nurturing my talent and I think that’s why I’ve done so well.In person, Jessica is slight and very pretty but sorry chaps, she’s been in a relationship with her construction worker boyfriend 27-year-old Andy Hill.‘He’s a site manager so we do completely different things,’ she admits.

‘ He really likes fashion. We’ve been together six and a half years. It’s been really good actually because we’ve been together through our junior years and progressed to where we are now and so he’s been with me the whole way and kind of knows how much training I have to do and the sacrifices I have to make, so I’m quite lucky.’

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