Jessica Ennis Hill podcast

042: Jessica Ennis-Hill on becoming World and Olympic Champion

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is triple World champion, Olympic champion, European Champion and British record holder in the heptathlon and World indoor champion in pentathlon. Perhaps more significantly Jess is an icon of British sport and global track and field athletics – as much for carrying the weight of expectations of a nation at the London Olympics in 2012.

To give you an example a 4000m2 portrait of Jess was painted beside the Heathrow airport runway emblazoned with the message, welcome to our turf, that was the message that greeted every athlete, coach, official, reporter and spectator to the London Olympics

Now I had the privilege of working with Jess from her Junior days all the way to her retirement and still work with her now, but this conversation was a chance to look back on the entirety of her career and recap, reflect and in some cases help each other remember aspects of the journey. So it was great to take a chance to take stock with Jess but it was equally a dose of what also makes jess uniquely Jess, what makes her so adored, revered and connected to people is her overwhelming sense of values, e

The episode offers an intimate look at Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill’s illustrious career in track and field athletics. From her first GB selection at the age of 15 to the balancing act of her physiology changes after pregnancy, the conversation is a rich tapestry of personal and professional insights.

One of the key takeaways is Jessica’s philosophy of “having no weaknesses,” a lesson she considers a defining moment in her career. This philosophy dictated her training approach, particularly the focus on leveraging her strengths in endurance over power.

The mental challenges that come with competing in the heptathlon also feature prominently in the discussion, as do the distractions brought by her dog Mila and the emotional rollercoaster of injury setbacks and comebacks.

The episode also delves into Jessica’s role as the face of the London Olympics, where an enormous portrait of her greeted all those who landed at Heathrow Airport. This added an extra layer of expectations, which she navigated gracefully.

Further topics include her second-place finish at the World Championships in Daegu, the challenges and triumphs of her iconic 800m run at the 2012 Olympics, and the need to keep a “clutter-free” mindset for optimal performance.

The conversation wraps up with Jessica’s post-retirement activities, specifically her venture into Jennis Fitness to help women stay active during and after pregnancy. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, the episode concludes on a reflective note, offering a glimpse into the wisdom she has gained over the years. Overall, what stands out most is Jessica’s humility, grounded nature, and unshakable values, making it clear why she is not just a champion in sports but also a beloved figure off the track.

go-less sensibility, grounded kindness, and personability.

5:29 – Life after retirement

7:00 – First GB selection at 15 and school sports day. School athletics and experimenting with events within the sport

11:00 – Changes in physiology after pregnancy

13:55 – A defining career moment and important lesson in approaching training… have no weaknesses

16:40 – The balance of endurance over power, the way in which Toni focussed the training towards Jess’s strengths

19:49 – The mental challenges within the heptathlon event.

21:19 – Mila, Jess’s dog, Jess talks about the impact of Mila and the distractions she brought

21:50 – 2007 Osaka, First World Championships, placed 4th. Excited and motivated to do her best

24:34 – A bank of confidence derived from hard training particularly in the 800m

25:40 – 2008, Götzis, a turning point in Jess’s career. Toni and Jess changed too much, and injury struck!

27:36 – Injury and the devastation of pulling out of competition and the ramifications of not being able to compete in the Olympics

31:03 – Team Jennis pulling together to get Jess back on track. Unloaded training in order to cope with injury and maintain fitness

33:32 – A change in training, sensible training and sensible recovery introducing new elements in order to allow the body to offload

35:10 – 2009 planning after injury, planning the comeback!

40:15 – The face of the Olympics- how did that happen…?

43:20 – The World Championships, Daegu, and a 2nd place. Happiness tinged with sadness, what do I need to do to win?!

45:35- Career moments which show you ‘this isn’t going to be easy’ are beneficial but hard to take

48:50 – The 800m at the Olympics 2012

51:36 – 80,000 people watching at the start of the hurdles during the Olympics!

56:28 – Keeping the mind clutter free, best performances came when I was really happy

1:01 – A change in training regime when Reggie came along, quality sessions… not long sessions

1:06 – Retirement with no regrets

1:09 – Jennis Fitness and the future, for women to stay active throughout pregnancy and after

1:13 – Steve asks “What tip would you give to your younger self?”

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