Jessica Ennis of Great Britain crosses the line during the Women's Heptathlon 800m to win overall gold on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 4 August 2012 (© Getty Images)
Jessica Ennis-Hill has confirmed that next summer's IAAF World Championships in Beijing figure highly in her plans on the road to defending her Olympic heptathlon title in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The 28-year-old British combined-events exponent will be looking to regain the heptathlon world title she won in 2009 before finishing with the silver medal two years later in the Korean city of Daegu.
Ennis-Hill also won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games but was forced to miss last year’s World Championships in Moscow due to injury and sat out the entire 2014 season because of pregnancy, with her son Reggie arriving in July.
However, she has now been back in almost full training for a month.
“At the moment it's just about taking small steps but I'm hoping to compete again next summer. The World Championships in Beijing is a realistic aim and would be great,” she told British media this week.
“But the main aim is the Rio Olympics, that's where I want to be back at the top of my game.
“I'm hoping to get a really good qualifying score for the Rio Games and take it from there, but I'm not pushing things too soon,'' she added.
“There are lots of things to be careful about. My body has been through so much so it's all about taking small steps and listening to my physio Alison Rose.
“Even though I was training during my pregnancy it was nowhere near the level I'm training at now. It's about doing the rehab stuff and building back up as strong as I can. It's a bit like getting back on a bike again.
“But it would be incredible to be able to step away from my sport, have a baby, and then come back to win another Olympic gold medal. It would be a fairytale.
"The focus has shifted but I am still very determined and focused on my athletics. It's about training, putting the work in and seeing if I can get to Rio."
Same person, same determination
"I am still the same person. I am still very driven and focused and determined, and I want to come back and see if I can do both.
"I know it will be an incredibly hard challenge and I am going to have to put a lot of time and work into it.
"But I believe with the people around me and a fantastic coach in Toni (Minichiello) we can definitely get there," commented Ennis-Hill.
Potentially, Ennis-Hill could face another recent mother in a battle for medals in Beijing: her long-time rival Tatyana Chernova.
The Russian beat Ennis-Hill to the 2011 heptathlon world title and also gave birth to her first child, a daughter Anna, barely a week before Ennis-Hill in early July.
However, during their absence from the track this summer, both women will certainly have noted the progress of Ennis-Hill’s 21-year-old compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who topped the 2014 world lists with the personal best of 6682 points at the famous meeting in the Austrian town of Gotzis, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Even though the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015, is more than nine months away, the heptathlon could be one of the most enthralling events on the programme in the Chinese capital with Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, the Netherland’s Dafne Schippers and France’s 2014 European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou all surely also wanting to have a say in the destination of the medals.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF