Olympic champion and three-times world champion heptathlete, Jessica Ennis-Hill is one of Great Britain’s most successful athletes.
Jessica was born on 28th January, 1986. She is the eldest child of Vinnie and Alison and has a younger sister, Carmel and was raised in Sheffield, a city famed for steel and sport in the heart of South Yorkshire, England. Jessica’s early school experiences gave Jessica a taste of sporting competition and opportunities that would start her on the path to athletics. It’s also where she met her future husband, Andy Hill.
Off to a flyer
But it was outside school that Jessica’s sporting journey really began. In school holidays, Jessica and her sister would attend local athletics camps. At the age of 13 at one of those camps, she was introduced to Toni Minichiello, who would go on to coach her throughout her athletics career. Shortly after her first coaching session with Toni, Jessica joined the City of Sheffield Athletics Club, who she represented until her retirement in 2016.
Jessica progressed through junior and youth competitions with great success and it was clear that she was a talent for the future. She took part in the World Youth Games, World Junior Championships, Commonwealth Youth Games and European Athletics Junior Championships, winning medals on an international stage before she’d turned 18.
Jessica’s athletics wasn’t her only focus at this time. After leaving school, she was accepted into The University of Sheffield to study Psychology. But her studies would have to balance with her blossoming athletics career. After winning a bronze medal in the 2005 Commonwealths Games, she graduated from University and started her professional career in full-time athletics.
All sports have highs and lows. In the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Jessica suffered a career-threatening injury. Broken bones in her right foot means she had to pull out of the competition. Determined to return strong from such a disappointing setback, Jessica spent the next 12 months working harder than ever. That work soon paid off.
In 2009 she won her heptathlon gold medal at the World Championships. It would prove to be the start of a sustained period of success that would see Jessica pick up two more World titles and the European crown. Of course, the gold medal that would cement her place in sporting history came at the 2012 Olympics in London. It was truly an occasion to remember.
Most people know the story of Super Saturday. With a packed Olympic stadium behind her and the whole country willing her on, Jessica achieved her life-long dream of becoming Olympic heptathlon champion. In front of her home crowd, her family and friends, she took the gold medal with a new personal best score of 6955 points. It was her crowning moment.
Changes and championships
Becoming Olympic champion kick-started a new chapter in Jessica’s career, which included more media attention and off-track commitments. Accolades continued to come and Jessica was awarded an MBE for her services to sport. She also enjoyed another life-changing moment in 2013 when she and Andy got married. And then in 2014, she gave birth to a baby boy, Reggie.
With the 2015 world championships fast approaching and the Rio Olympics the following year, Jessica and her coach, Toni had a decision to make. Could she get back to full fitness and compete for more titles? The answer was yes. Applying the same dedication and determination she’d shown throughout her career, Jessica set about her return to athletics.
Just 15 months after giving birth, Jessica won the heptathlon world title in Beijing – her third world championship gold medal in a row. Then at the Rio Olympics in 2016 – having led the competition after the first day – Jessica claimed a silver medal. It was a huge achievement and the perfect way for Jessica to call time on her glittering career.
A new chapter
More than 10 years after her first senior appearance, Jessica closed the curtain on her career in athletics. She was offered a Damehood shortly after her retirement in 2016 and moved on to a brand new chapter in her life, which included the arrival of her daughter, Olivia.
Jessica currently lives in her home city of Sheffield, where she continues her work as a role model, campaigning for charities that her close to her heart and inspiring others to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. She has recently written a series of books for children, ‘Evie's Magic Bracelet’ with co-author Elen Coldecott.