London Diaries, Day 2: Jessica Ennis, Simply Amazing!
by Larry Eder
Jessica Ennis overcame two years of silver medals (2011 Worlds, 2012 World Indoors) to take the largest stage in our sport, the Olympics. With 80,000 British and global fans willing her on, plus 100 million Brits, Jessica Ennis showed that she is, as friend Tom Bedford suggested, Jessica Ennis is simply amazing!
Here is how she won the London Olympic heptathlon:
The heptathlon is comprised of seven events. The 1976 Olympic gold medalist at the decathlon, Bruce Jenner noted, that multi events mean you can screw up in each discipline.
Jessica Ennis's journey to London gold medal, I believed, in her rough time in Daegu last year, where she took the silver and watched Tatyana Chernova win the gold medal. That had to be a very difficult.
In speaking to her mother last summer, it was clear that she understood, some days you win, some days you loose. Jessica Ennis would be a great poker player. One can not read her face, as she holds the emotion back, which she does in all of her competitions.
"I went back and worked with my coach on my javelin, and we worked on it all year long."
She took second at the World Indoor Champs, taking second in the Indoor pentathlon. She was in fact, announced on the digital board as the winner and then, Natalya Dobrynska was given the WR and the gold.
So, Jessica Ennis and her coach, Toni Minichiello, brought in Mick Hill, the former World Champ bronze medalist in the javelin. Working on her rythm, confidence and distance, Jessican went from 41 meter average up to 45 meters, and then, to 47 meters.
Jessica Ennis competed well for two days. Her 100m hurdle race, where she ran 12.54 in the 100 meter hurdles blew everyone's mind in the stands. 80,000 Brits went crazy when they heard that Ennis had broken British record and run the second fastest 100m hurdle race in British Isles. A nice way to start!
Canadian Jessica Zelinka ran 12.65. Hyleas Fountain of the US ran 12.70 for the third best in the hurdles. A nice way to start!
In the high jump, Austra Skuyjte of Lithuania had a wonderful high jump, clearing 1.92m, for 1,132 points. Jessica Ennis cleared 1.86m, coming oh so close to the 1.89m, when the bar fell off after she had cleared the height. British junior star Katarina Johnson-Thompson cleared 1.89m, looking very good after her World Junior long jump title.
Jessie Ennis had an okay shot put, she threw 14.28m. Austra Skujyte had a huge PB with her final throw of 17.31m, for 1016 , giving her the lead over Ennis with a score of 3,126 to Ennis' 3,062. At this time, Tatyana Chernova was in 13th place. For Ennis, her shot put was not that bad, it just was not that good. The 200 meters was next the event, and Jessie Ennis was staying focused.
In the final heat of the 200 meters, Dafne Schippers of Belgium, a gifted young athlete, flew around the track, running a 22.83 for the 200 meters, for 1,096 points. Tying her, Jessie Ennis took back the point lead (4,158, her best first day ever), and ran a brilliant 22.83.
Just before the race, we saw Jessica's face on the TV screen and she looked worried, a normal response, if one is human. And with 100 million people praying for your victory, there can be a bit of tension.
Day two is always a surprise. "I was concerned about the second day. I did not know if I would wake up sore. I was a bit nervous." is how Jessie Ennis described her emotions to BBC during the post javelin discussion.
Day two is the long jump, javelin, and 800 meters. Long jump's goal is get a legal mark, relax and get close to 6.40m. Jessica hit 5.95m on her first jump, then 6.40m, then 6.48m. This gave her points of 1001, so she could protect herself from challenges by Chernova, the 2011 World Champ (who jumped 6.54m) or Olympic champ Natalia Dobrynska, who literally took herself out of the heptathlon food chain with a Titanic size disaster of a long jump, after one foul. Dobrynska jumped 3.70m on her second jump and just had a pressure filled foul, where one just can not execute.
Jessie Ennis relaxed a bit, as 6.48m put her on the gold medal highway. Pretty sure Toni Minichiello, her esteemed coach, did not say that to her. But, I had to put it in the article.
The javelin throw has been a nightmare for Jessica Ennis. Spikes magazine in fact, made some jokes about her javelin, several years ago. So, Toni Minichiello, the esteemed coach, worked Mick Hill, the javelin World Champ bronze medalist.
Mick and Jessica seemed to work well, as she stopped having as much anxiety about the event, and her javelin throwing improved, about six meters. So, from god awful, to okay, which is like Einstein amazing when a multi eventer has an issue with an event. Think of a comparison? Well, Dan O'Brien is to the 1,500m in the decathon what Jessie Ennis had to the javelin.
So what does the budding near gold medalist do? Hell, she makes us all bow down and worship as she throws a PERSONAL BEST of 47.49 meters for a cool 812 points!
Pretty much after the javelin, unless Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars dropped a London Taxi on Jessica Ennis, this British heptathlon goddess was going to get her a gold medal!
Chernova had moved into sixth place with a throw of 46.29m. Lilli Schwartzkopf of Germany has dropped a 51.73m javelin throw for 894 points, putting them both in contention for the silver and bronze medals.
Now the interesting stuff started on twitter world.
AW, the British magazine of record for all things track & field, noted that IF Jessica could run 2:05.49, she could then take gold and go over 7000 points. Seven thousand points has not been seen since JJK and 1988, I believe. Yes, it was when Tom Cruise was married to Mimi Rogers (remember Tom Cruise as a jet pilot?).
Jessie Ennis and her coach, Toni Minichiello, were concerned with one thing: getting her around the track twice, winning the gold and making sure no mistakes happened.
Jessica Ennis, in the last 800m heat, went out hard, hitting the 400 meters in 61.85 and not giving up. She put her all into it, kicking across the finish lane, to the delight of the crowd, running 2:08.65.
That little 800 meter gave Ms. Ennis 984 points giving her a score of 6,955 points, for a British national record and the Olympic gold medal. Two years of frustration and four years of pressure were over, well, for tonight!
Lilli Schwartzkopf of Germany (13.26, 1.83m, 14.77m, 24.77, 6.30m, 51.73m, 2:10.50), took the silver with 6,649 a PB, after having some, well, anxious moments as an overzealous judge disqualified her for putting four steps over a line break (committed by someone else, per video).
Tatyana Chernova, the Russian WC from last year, showed complete class when asked if she, Tatyana Chernova, was unhappy that she got a bronze and that Lilli was dqued. Tatyana (13.48, 1.80m, 14.17m,23.67, 6.54m, 46.29m, 2:09.56) said and I quote,
"I don't know what to think about situation. I think about the run. I know that Lilly was behind me, and I dreamed about a medal. I was disappointed when she was disqualified. She is a fighter, an athlete and a great competitor. She had a good result. All goes as God wants. "
So, Jessica Ennis, just as she was running the 800 meters, Greg Rutherford put all doubt away as to whom would win the men's Long Jump. Great Britain was on the way to Super Saturday, the greatest night in British Track & Field history!