Jessica Ennis-Hill has not only proved herself as the darling of British Athletics; the Sheffield athlete is undoubtedly a sporting icon the world over.
Heartbroken best sums up how we felt when she announced her retirement earlier this year. With the World Athletics Championships coming to London in 2017, we dreamed with ridiculous optimism of a return to London’s Olympic Stadium, where we could revel in the bittersweet nostalgia of ‘Super Saturday’ all over again. But those golden memories remain to be treasured, as alas, it was not to be.
Nonetheless it’s fair to say that no one has earned a sporting retirement quite like Ennis-Hill. Over a mere decade, Jess scored a Commonwealth bronze (at the tender age of 20), before going on to win European gold, Olympic gold and silver, and three World titles. Slightly above and beyond the Curriculum Vitae of your average twenty-something then.
So, in the aftermath of her retirement, there are more than a few golden career moments to reflect on. There were highs and lows throughout, and of course the comebacks that defied belief. So sit back, raise a glass and proudly re-live our favourite Ennis-Hill moments.
Amazing memories...from my first world title in Berlin 2009 to Rio 2016 I'm so fortunate to have had such an amazing career within the sport I love and this has been one of the toughest decisions I've had to make. But I know that retiring now is right. I've always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that. I want to thank my family and incredible team who have spent so much of their time supporting me and enabling me to achieve my dreams. Also a huge thank you to all those people who have supported and followed my career over the years x
Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, 2006
On qualifying for her first major championships, Ennis-Hill’s coach Toni Minichiello told her to just go out there and enjoy it. But the young athlete wasn’t ready to leave it at that. Thriving under the pressure of the main stage, she delivered the biggest performance of her junior career. The reward was a bronze medal and an awakening of the mainstream media to heptathlon’s rising star.
World Champion, Berlin, 2009
The first comeback to silence the doubters. In 2008, Jess faced a potentially career-ending injury with three stress fractures in her right foot. The physical and emotional toll of missing the Beijing Olympics that year, the pinnacle of a career, would be enough to threaten the resolve of many professional athletes. But with a day-by-day approach and an incredible support team, Jess was back training shortly before the 2009’s World Champs.
Only a few months of solid training? No problem. By Autumn 2009 Jess had returned to Sheffield with a new personal best and a World Heptathlon Gold medal round her neck.
Golden girl, London 2012
Forever imprinted in our minds. With the weight of a nation’s eager expectations on her shoulders, Jess took on her first Olympic challenge.
What was so often overlooked was quite how good her challenging competitors were, this was not a battle already won. A performance of a lifetime was required for her to take Olympic gold. And so she delivered. A lifetime best kicked off proceedings in the hurdles, followed by PBs in the high jump and javelin. After two days of keeping the emotions and pressure in check, an ecstatic Jess crossed the finishing line of the 800m victorious in front of an 80,000-strong home crowd. Super Saturday, we salute you.
World Champion, Beijing, 2015
The queen of comebacks wasn’t done quite yet. Only a year after giving birth to her son Reggie, Ennis-Hill made a remarkable return to the world stage. After missing out on the Beijing Olympics in 2008 due to injury, it only seemed fitting that her incredible return took place back in Beijing’s ‘bird’s nest’ stadium, for the World Athletics Championships.
In what was her ‘hardest year ever’, she shocked even herself and her coach with a golden win and ‘one of the greatest moments’ of her career. A performance of unfaltering strength, focus and determination, inspiring athletes and new mothers everywhere.
Triple World Champion
Not many athletes can claim to have bagged a world title after their retirement. Shortly after she made the announcement this year, Jess was awarded gold for the 2011 World Championships, when previous winner Chernova was stripped of all her medals for doping.
So justice, whilst not immediate, was eventually served. At the age of 30, Jess is one of the few athletes to call herself a triple world champion.
Now go and enjoy your retirement Jess!