Jessica Ennis- Hill is confident she can recapture her greatness as she prepares to return to competitive action after the birth of her first child, according to the British Athletics performance director, Neil Black. But Black has admitted that it may take until 2016 before the Olympic heptathlon champion returns to her very best.
Black, who has monitored Ennis-Hill’s training closely since the birth of her first child, Reggie, in July, said: “She is making good progress in all seven events and she is confident. But this year is also about re-learning and getting back to a competent level.”
Ennis-Hill has not competed in the heptathlon since winning gold at London 2012 because of injury and pregnancy. But early this month she confirmed she would compete at Götzis in early May and Black has no doubts about her determination to win gold again at the Rio Olympics.
“I truly think that she believes and wants to recapture that greatness, but she understands completely that it is a tough event,” he said. “She knows it is not going to be easy, but there is a genuine desire to go back and see what she can do and do it again.”
Black has warned British athletes that they are about to get a reality check after their success at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
“We had a great year last year but now the global stuff starts again,” he said, pointing to this year’s world championships in Beijing, Rio 2016 and the worlds in London a year later.
“We’ve got to face up to that. We have a great platform to work from, but we have to work hard and transfer those championship performances from last year into the world championships this year.”
Black was speaking at the Glasgow international meeting, where the British team finished second behind Germany by a point. They would have won if Richard Kilty, the world indoor 60m champion, had not been disqualified after twitching in his lane but Black was not overly disappointed, praising the performances of Jessica Judd in the women’s 1500m, Kelly Massey in the women’s 400m, and Serita Solomon and David Omoregie in the women’s and men’s 60m hurdles.
He also gave his support to Kilty’s decision to rejoin his old mentor Linford Christie after his former coach Rana Reider left British Athletics. “He has made a sensible decision in the circumstances. He has a history of working with Linford and that group,” he said. “James Ellington is going to be there as well. They need that hard work group atmosphere.”
And despite Kilty’s setback in Glasgow, Black believes the 25-year-old is close to returning to his best. “He has been out to South Africa for the last few weeks. He has worked hard and he was really enthusiastic about coming here,” he said. “He is learning, developing and maturing as a person all the time and he has more to come as an athlete.”