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Jessica Ennis helped to London 2012 Olympic heptathlon gold by Leeds Metropolitan coach

6 August 2012

When University of Sheffield Psychology graduate Jessica Ennis launched a personal best javelin throw on her way to London 2012 Olympic heptathlon gold, nobody was more proud than her javelin coach Mick Hill.

University of Sheffield graduate and London 2012 gold medallist Jessica Ennis with her javelin coach from Leeds Metropolitan University, Mick Hill

The 47-year-old Podium Games Expert and four-time Olympian is also the Director of Athletics at Leeds Metropolitan University, and he was in the Olympic Stadium to witness Ennis triumph in front of her home crowd at her very first Games.

“The atmosphere was electric,” he said. “The noise was incredible and something I will never forget, it was a privilege to be part of it.”

Ennis won the heptathlon by a massive 306 points from Germany’s Lilli Schwarzkopt with current world champion Tatyana Chernova 21 points further back in third place. Key to her success was a personal best throw of 47.49m in the javelin that all but sealed the gold medal going in to the final event, the 800m.

Hill said: “I was extremely pleased with her performance but not surprised. I was with her at the warm-up track and she was in control of her drills with some excellent sub maximal throws.

“She went in to the competition happy and relatively calm knowing that she was ready, but she still had to go in there and perform, so getting a lifetime best was excellent. It was made even more impressive by the fact she beat Chernova, who could still have been a threat overall had she thrown beyond her best of 54m.”

The javelin had been considered one of her weaker events in the seven-discipline competition, and a disappointing throw of 39.95m in last year’s World Championships in Daegu ended her chances of retaining the world title she had won in 2009. The team have been working hard since then to ensure she improved and was at peak form ready for London 2012.

“I have seen her twice a week from September until she left for the athletes’ village on 31st July, including three quality sessions at the holding camp in Portugal. Each session lasts between one and a half and two hours.

“Since Daegu we have placed a lot of emphasis on her posture and positions during the different stages of the throw, as well as her run-up tempo and rhythm and her warm-up drills prior to competition.”

Hill’s impressive near-20 year career saw him compete at four Olympic Games, seven World Championships, five European Championships and four Commonwealth Games, winning three Commonwealth silver medals in the process.

Having previously studied at Leeds Metropolitan University previously himself, he returned to the institution in 2009 as a coach to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of students.

By Christopher Finch

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