Jessica Ennis-Hill is a Yorkshire sporting champion who has become the nation’s sweetheart and an inspiration to many. She holds three World Titles and became a gold medallist at the London 2012 games which has been the pinnacle of her career.
- Growing Up
- The Beginning of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s Career
- Women’s Heptathlon Athlete
- 2008 Beijing Olympics
- Recognised Achievements
- Record Points
- 2012 London Olympics
- A Normal Life
- 2016 Rio Olympics
On the 28th January 1986, Jessica was born in Sheffield. She grew up in the Highfield district of the city and attended Sharrow Primary before moving on to King Ecgbert School in Dore.
During the summer of 1996, Jessica’s life would change forever when she was taken to a Start: Track event by her parents at the Don Valley Stadium. It was here that she won a pair of trainers and met her coach Toni Minichello who would one day coach her to Olympic Gold.
After the event, Jessica was encouraged to pursue her passion for the sport. The following year she joined the City of Sheffield Athletics Club and began her career.
In 2000, Jessica won her first pentathlon competition at the AAA U15 Championships which was the first of many successes in her career. She competed regularly in local and national junior athletics meetings and became one of Britain’s most promising athletes.
She won several medals including gold at the AAA under 20’s National Championships in 2003 and two silver medals at the Junior Commonwealth games in Australia on the hurdles and high jump. In 2005, she rose to prominence when she took gold in the 2005 European Athletics Junior Championships in Lithuania.
Jessica Ennis-Hill made her first appearance in a major international senior competition at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne two years later. She won a bronze medal in the heptathlon alongside fellow Brit Kelly Sotherton who took gold.
In 2007, her status as an athlete was growing when she won the inaugural European rising star award. Despite this success, Jessica was determined to keep her feet on the ground and complete her education.
After taking her GCSEs and A-Levels at King Ecgbert School, Jessica went on to study at university. She attended Sheffield University and completed her psychology course in the same year she received her award.
Throughout this time, Jessica Ennis-Hill continued with her athletic career. She was fast becoming a multi-disciplined athlete who could run, throw, and jump to great effect.
As a women’s heptathlon athlete, Jessica must compete in seven different events held over two days of competition. It starts with a 110m hurdles race followed by the high jump, shot put, and a 200m run.
The second day begins with the long jump followed by a javelin throw and culminating in an 800m race. Overall, the scoring isn’t based on what position they finish in each competition, but instead linked to the individual times or distances achieved by each competitor through a set of formulas.
These formulas were devised by a mathematician called Dr Karl Ulbrich. They are constructed so that each event has a standard performance or benchmarks that need to be completed to achieve 1,000 points e.g. 1.82m in the high jump event.
The system rewards the athletes with more points for certain things such as the longer they throw or the faster they run above the set benchmarks so there is a clear winner when totalled. Ties are solved by performances against their competitor and how many events they’ve won during the competition.
In 2008, Jessica Ennis-Hill was training to take part in her first Olympic Games which was held in Beijing, China after finishing fourth in the previous year’s world championships. At an athletics meeting in Gotzis, Austria she withdrew from the competition.
Jessica had a pain in her right foot which, after further examination, turned out to be a stress fracture in the metatarsal. She faced a long lay-off and a disappointed Jessica missed the 2008 Olympics along with the rest of the season.
After a twelve month lay-off, Jessica hit the ground running. She won the World Combined Events challenge on her comeback by smashing the competition record with a personal best score of 6,731 points.
More success followed at the 2009 World Championships where she won gold in Berlin. By now, her achievements were beginning to be recognised by the nation and her native Sheffield.
To celebrate her victory, a civic reception was held and Jessica was given a full canteen of cutlery and a designer handbag. The athlete also won Sportswoman of the year and another award, the British Athlete of the year.
In the run up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, Jessica continued to compete and won gold in the 2010 European heptathlon with a record points of 6,823. A year later she finished second at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
As the 2012 London Olympics approached, Jessica became an unofficial face on posters for the Games. She appeared on billboards, magazine front-pages, and even on a 40ft banner at the Sheffield branch of John Lewis.
By this point, Jessica Ennis-Hill had a two year unbeaten run which stretched from 2009 to 2011. A lot was expected of the athlete going into the games and a large amount of pressure was placed upon her muscular shoulders.
In any sport it’s important to have the talent to participate in the chosen event, however it’s equally as important that the athlete’s temperament is right too. Jessica carried the expectation of the whole nation and delivered.
Saturday the 4th of August 2012 was the Yorkshire athlete’s finest hour when she completed the 800m, which was the final event of her heptathlon competition, which lit the blue touch paper for that famous London night now called “Golden Saturday”. Jessica won one of three British gold medals within half an hour, along with Mo Farah and long jumper Greg Rutherford.
Away from the track, Jessica tried to maintain a normal existence which included getting her dog Myla who occasionally joins her on some of her training runs. In 2013, Jessica married Andy Hill who she met during their school days in Dore.
The same year Jessica got married, her training facility since the age of ten, the Don Valley, was closed and demolished by Sheffield Council due to budget cuts. After her marriage she decided to take a break from her career and focus on her family.
Due to her pregnancy, she missed the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. After the birth of her son, Jessica resumed her training for the next Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
In 2015, Jessica made her comeback in the Heptathlon World Championships held in Beijing. When Jessica stepped onto the aeroplane destined for China, she confessed that any colour medal would be enough to convince her she was on the right track and give her the encouragement she needed for Rio.
Amazingly, Ennis won the gold medal beating off Canada’s Brianne Theisen Eaton by 115 points. After being away from the sport for thirteen months after giving birth, she became the first multi-sport athlete to win a medal straight after maternity leave.
Jessica arrived in Rio in 2016 with high hopes of a repeat performance. Overnight, she led the field with an impressive performance in both the 100m and 200m hurdles.
For the Yorkshire athlete, danger was never far away. Fellow Brit Katerina Johnson-Thompson and Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam stayed in touch. In the end, Nafi beat Jessica in both the shot put and high jump events on day one.
The Belgian also proved to be too strong on the second day of the competition in the long jump and javelin events. A win in the 800m could not overturn the deficit meaning that Jessica Ennis-Hill came second with 6775 to Nafissatou’s 6810.
On the 13th of October in 2016, Jessica Ennis-Hill announced her retirement. Shortly after in November, Nafissatou Thiam was stripped of her gold medal due to a doping violation meaning that gold went to Jessica making it her third World Title.
At the beginning of 2017, Jessica was given another title. She was appointed DBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for her services to athletics.
Despite no longer being an active athlete, Jessica was still involved. She, along with her agent Jane Cowmeadow, created an app-based training programme in 2019 called Jennis and two years later in 2021 created an extra product for the app called CycleMapping which helps women map their training to their menstrual cycle.
All of Jessica Ennis-Hill’s achievements have made her one of the most recognisable faces in British sport and a true ambassador for Yorkshire. She’s become a role model for young people and topped a poll by Starbucks Youth action to find the most inspirational person to under 25’s beating off competition from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther-King, and Mo Farah.
Despite all of her fame and fortune, Jessica has maintained a steely determination to succeed in her chosen sport while keeping control of her life in the spotlight. Her down-to-earth persona helps to make her at heart a dye in the wool Yorkshire lass.