• Athletics

'Athletics needs good role models' - Ennis

ESPN staff
April 22, 2010
Jessica Ennis has her sights set on an Olympic gold medal to add to her world title © Getty Images

World heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis believes athletics has taken a positive turn and believes the profile of the sport will increase thanks to London 2012.

Athletics has been plagued by high-profile drugs scandals involving the likes of Dwayne Chambers and Marion Jones in recent years, but with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Ennis coming through, Ennis believes the sport is growing in stature.

"I think in the past few years athletics has really taken a big turn and we have got some really positive role models coming through," Ennis told Sky Sports News. "Obviously with London 2012 on the horizon it has sparked interest in sport and definitely in athletics.

"Role models are so important, especially at a younger level. I know when I was younger I looked up to people like Denise Lewis, and that helped inspire me and push me."

An ankle injury just two months before the 2008 Beijing Games ended Ennis' hopes of an Olympic medal, but she put the injury woes behind her and bounced back to win the World Championship gold in Berlin last summer, before claiming the indoor pentathlon world title in Doha last month.

"It is every athlete's dream and their No. 1 goal to win an Olympic gold medal," she said. "I have dreamt about it for a very long time. Having missed Beijing was a massive blow so to have the opportunity to have a home Olympics is really special.

"It was pure devastation; tears, it was really upsetting time. But then you have to refocus and get yourself together and focus on the next best thing."

Ennis revealed that the injury forced her to make a major change to her long jump technique, changing take-off leg to reduce the impact on her right foot, where she struggled with stress fractures.

"I decided with my coach that the best thing to do was to change my take-off leg to reduce the impact through the foot," she said. "It took time retraining, learning the skill on the other side but I think it was the best thing to do for the future to avoid injuries like that again."

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