Jessica Ennis-Hill crowned world champion as Brit canters to heptathlon gold in 800m... just 13 months after giving birth  

  • Jessica Ennis-Hill led the field by 86 points ahead of the 800m final
  • The Brit stormed to win the 800m final to extend her advantage 
  • The 2012 Olympic champion last won the World Championship in 2009 

Jessica Ennis-Hill fell to the ground after winning the final event of two gruelling days of competition and briefly allowed the emotion to spill out.

Just 13 months after giving birth she had executed one of the great sporting comebacks to reign supreme in the brutal world of heptathlon once more. Then came the tears.

‘I was just reflecting on the whole year really,’ she said. ‘I was happy that I’d gone through everything. It’s hard with a newborn at the beginning and then getting back into training, and I was thinking about everyone who’s helped me — my family, my coach and the team around me. They’ve been patient and believed I can get back to this point.’ 

Jessica Ennis-Hill is all smiles as she secured gold at the World Championships in Beijing on Sunday

Jessica Ennis-Hill is all smiles as she secured gold at the World Championships in Beijing on Sunday

An emotional Jessica Ennis-Hill is reduced to tears having won the 800m to take home heptathlon gold

An emotional Jessica Ennis-Hill is reduced to tears having won the 800m to take home heptathlon gold

It was an 800 metres to make the spine tingle. Poised on the shoulder of Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, the only woman who could feasibly deny her gold, Ennis-Hill took the lead down the final straight. As the Bird’s Nest stadium erupted, the 29-year-old fell to the ground in a dizzy whirl of emotion.

She bore the pressure of being golden girl in 2012 to win the Olympic title but judged this win to be comparable. ‘It’s definitely one of the greatest moments of my career,’ she said.

To reach a competitive level in seven different events is no easy feat, especially while dealing with a troublesome achilles and both the joys and trials of being a new mother.

To then hold her nerve and win gold at a World Championships, with a total of 6,669 points, takes serious mettle.

Just ask Katarina Johnson-Thompson, her young British team-mate who suffered the heartbreak of three fouls in the long jump, which saw her medal hopes evaporate earlier in the day. 

The 2009 world champion, heading out at the start of the 800m, regained the title in Beijing on Sunday

The 2009 world champion, heading out at the start of the 800m, regained the title in Beijing on Sunday

Ennis-Hill realises the extent of her achievement and collapses to the ground as the emotions take over

Ennis-Hill realises the extent of her achievement and collapses to the ground as the emotions take over

Ennis-Hill had said Beijing was just a bonus at the end of her season where the main aim had been to record a qualifying mark for the Rio Olympics next year. But after leaving baby Reggie back in Sheffield with husband Andy she was honest about not wanting to return home without hardware. ‘Me and my coach (Toni Minichiello) spoke about a bronze medal — that would be amazing — and a silver medal but we never even mentioned a gold medal,’ she said, ‘I just thought it was a little beyond me this year.’

The word inspirational is often bandied around in a sporting context but Ennis-Hill can legitimately claim to be a leading light for mothers returning to work. In a typically self-effacing manner Ennis-Hill said she was encouraged by Jo Pavey, a mother of two who became European 10,000m champion last summer.

She said: ‘I look at other mums like Jo and just mums that go back to their jobs and work incredibly hard. I have so much admiration and appreciation for how hard it is, so I hope that I am an inspiration for other mums that you can do it and do both really well.’ 

Fellow heptathlon contestants congratulate Ennis-Hill after the Sheffield star won gold in Beijing

Fellow heptathlon contestants congratulate Ennis-Hill after the Sheffield star won gold in Beijing

The 29-year-old shares the celebrations with her coach Toni Minichiello following her gold in Beijing

The 29-year-old shares the celebrations with her coach Toni Minichiello following her gold in Beijing

Ennis-Hill’s comeback began in her garage where she did 15-minute spells on her bike while Reggie was napping and she found it difficult even to lift modest weights above her head.

‘All these little steps went towards getting back here,’ she said. ‘The gym in my garage is not very glamorous but it works. At the time I thought, “I’m doing OK” but I look back now and I think I was not in great shape. It has taken a while.’

After recording three seasons-bests on the opening day, Ennis-Hill began Sunday with a season-best of 6.43m in the long jump on her first attempt, just 9cm off her personal best. Then came a solid 42.51m in the first round of the javelin before winning the 800m in 2min 10.13sec.

Sporting success and failure are separated by the finest of margins and for Johnson-Thompson the thickness of her training shoe sole was the difference between probable gold and public heartbreak. 

KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON AMBLES IN 800M TO 'SAVE MY LEGS'

Katarina Johnson-Thompson ended her heptathlon by jogging around the track and finishing last in her 800m race. Johnson-Thompson decided to run around the track at a slow pace to save herself for the long jump heats on Thursday.

The 22-year-old's medal hopes in the heptathlon had earlier ended after she failed to record a distance in the long jump with three foul attempts.

Johnson-Thompson had no choice but to continue in the javelin and 800m as there would have be a medical reason to withdraw and medical confirmation she could compete again in the long jump.

That harsh rule was brought into sharp focus at the end of a galling day as the Liverpool athlete ambled home last in her 800m heat, with her time of in 2 mins 50.73 secs - 43.09s outside her personal best.

Johnson-Thompson said: 'This is the last place I wanted to be right now.

'I had to compete the 800m if I wanted to go to the long jump. That's not my fitness (behind that slow time). I want to save my legs.' 

Katarina Johnson-Thompson looks on ahead oh her 800m heat, where she jogged round to save energy

Katarina Johnson-Thompson looks on ahead oh her 800m heat, where she jogged round to save energy

 The dejected 22-year-old had to race in the 800m but jogged to preserve energy for her long jump title pursuit

 The Liverpool heptahlete (centre) was clearly devastated from her earlier performance in the long jump

 The Liverpool heptahlete (centre) was clearly devastated from her earlier performance in the long jump

The 22-year-old endured a six-minute wait as officials debated her third attempt in the long jump. On landing in the sand pit the Liverpudlian clapped and pumped her fist, only for ecstasy to turn to agony as the big screen in the stadium showed her foot had strayed on to the plasticine. There was a touching moment as Ennis-Hill rushed over to give her a hug.

‘We’re rivals and we want to better each other but when she did that my heart sunk for her,’ said Ennis-Hill, ‘I felt really emotional for her. She was going really well and it would’ve been a fight in the 800m for the gold medal. But she’s got loads of time on her hands, and she’ll come back stronger.’

Johnson-Thompson, who had been in second place before the long jump, broke down in tears live on TV and was hugged by BBC interviewer Phil Jones. Her jump, had it been legal, was huge and would have put her in pole position for the title.

‘I’m obviously really disappointed,’ said Johnson-Thompson, who will compete again in the long jump on Thursday. ‘To be in medal contention and miss the board by such a small fraction is really hard to take To say it’s been a tough evening is an understatement.’ 

Ennis-Hill throws the javelin during Sunday's morning session at the Bird's Nest in Beijing

Ennis-Hill throws the javelin during Sunday's morning session at the Bird's Nest in Beijing

Ennis-Hill, the 2009 Heptathlon World Champion, flies through the air as she takes part in the long jump

Ennis-Hill, the 2009 Heptathlon World Champion, flies through the air as she takes part in the long jump

The British pair are likely to be each other’s stiffest competition for heptathlon gold in Brazil next summer. Only two athletes have had a baby and retained their Olympic title four years later.

‘The main thing is just to come away from this, get a good winter season in and build on this year,’ said Ennis-Hill.

More pressingly, she was looking forward to flying back to Britain later today. ‘I don’t know that there will be too much celebrating; a good night’s sleep then home to see Reggie — maybe a cheeky glass of champagne,’ she grinned.