Aim to retain my Olympic gold medal at Rio: Jessica

Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) British track and field star Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won a heptathlon gold at the 2012 London Olympics, said she is aiming at retaining her medal at the forthcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics — as there will be no home pressure on her.

“I do feel slightly less pressure going into Rio. Obviously London 2012 was such a big year for me and the lead-up was fantastic. The whole experience was an amazing thing to go through. This year, I have pressure on myself and expectations,” Jessica said in an email interview.

“I’m very satisfied with what I’ve already achieved, but my target for Rio is to go out there and perform at the top of my game. I would love to retain my Olympic Games title. I want to go there and put my best possible score on the table,” she said.

When asked about her expectations at Rio, she was optimistic about her chances.

“I’ve been to Rio only once before so I haven’t experienced it all that much. But I’m looking forward to seeing what the crowd is like. Obviously it will be different to London but I think it will be a really great carnival feeling. The weather should be fantastic and I’m expecting a really great atmosphere,” Jessica remarked.

“If I am able to defend my title in Rio then it would be one of my greatest achievements ever I think — having had time out through injury, having my son and then coming back. I don’t think many people have done that. Rio is not going to be easy but I’d absolutely love to win there.”

“Everything’s coming together now and I’m feeling good. Training over the past few weeks has been going really well and it’s been good to be back in the competitive environment recently. There’s still some time left before Rio to put some work in as well,” she added.

The 30-year-old said her dream as a younger athlete was to stand at the top of the podium.

“As soon as I started athletics, I loved it from day one. I loved running and taking part in all the different events. My dream was always to stand on top of the podium. It was always about having that feeling of winning gold,” she said.

“As I got a little bit older, I realised the different championships and levels you could get to, and the Olympic Games became a huge dream for me. I wanted to firstly become an Olympian and secondly to stand on the top of podium as a winner.”

When asked about her favourite event within Heptathlon, she pointed to hurdles.

“My favourite is definitely the hurdles. It’s one of my strongest events and one that I really enjoy. Obviously time is such an important part of the 100m hurdles. As a heptathlete, you’re very much focused on yourself and your own performances but I’m always racing against the clock,” Jessica said.

“I’m always comparing previous times to what I’ve run. And I just try to better that. It’s always about time in the 100m hurdles for me.”

The Sheffield-born athlete said she was filled with nervous energy at the start of the London Olympics race but was shocked to emerge as a winner at the finish line.

“At the Olympic Games in London, I was on the starting line of the hurdles and filled with nervous energy and excitement. The race itself was a complete blur. It all happened so quickly. When I crossed the line, I looked straight at the clock and I saw the time. I was blown away by it,” the reigning Olympic champion said.

“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I’d run that time and it was just an incredible feeling to know I’d started my Olympic Games campaign with a great win,” Jessica, who will wear an Omega watch that is also the official timekeeper of Olympics since the last 84 years, added.

“Every championship is so different and the Olympics, for me, is so hard to top because in London was just incredible. The whole build-up, the whole Games, everything, was literally like a dream. Then last year, coming back to win the worlds was just totally unexpected.”

Jessica took a year out in 2014 and then came back in 2015 to win the World Championship title.

“There was no secret. Obviously it’s taken a good few weeks just to get back into training after having my son. Really it’s been the support of my coach and my physio and my doctor and everyone around me who has just helped to guide me in the right direction.”

“They made sure I didn’t rush things, that I took my time with training and that I built back into everything sensibly. And then the support of my family has allowed me to do the training I need to do,” Jessica concluded.

(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at aritra.c@ians.in)

–IANS

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