Jessica Ennis: London 2012 Olympic pressure was huge

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Saturday, November 3, 2012
2:07 PM

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis has laid bare the pressure she felt being the face of London 2012.

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The heptathlete champion has also described how she was bullied because of her size at school, and the fear she experienced before the 800 metres, her final event at the Olympic Stadium.

The revelations have come in her new book, Unbelievable, serialised in today’s The Times newspaper.

She wrote: “It was a long wait because I wanted to run the race now. Get it over. Kill the pressure.

“The television set in the combined events room switched to the studio where Denise Lewis and Michael Johnson began discussing me.

“I put my fingers in my ears and ran out of the room.”

Ennis experienced similar problems in the weeks and months building up to the Games.

“The pressure was huge,” she wrote. “I would drive past five big posters of me on the way to training. It was still hard to take in.

“One night I was driving to a chip shop and was about to go in when I saw the huge Powerade ad hanging outside.

“There I was, supposedly sweating after a hard session, clad in Lycra and selling good health. I thought, ‘God, I can’t go in now’, and drove on to Sainsbury’s instead.”

The 26-year-old, from Sheffield, also revealed that she was bullied at school because she was “small and scraggy”.

She wrote: “There were two girls who were really nasty to me. They did not hit me, but bullying can take on many forms and the abuse and name-calling hurt.

“The saying about sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting falls on deaf ears when you are a schoolkid in the throes of a verbal beating.

“At that age, girls can be almost paralysed by their self-consciousness, so each nasty little word cut deep wounds. I went home, cried and wrote in my diary.”