On 13th October 2016, British heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill announced her retirement from athletics.
In an Instagram post chronicling her rise to success in a collage of victories, the 30-year-old double world champion described the announcement as being “One of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make.”
She adds, “I know that retiring now is right. I’ve always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that.”
Jessica rose to fame at the London 2012 Olympics, where, in front of a home country crowd, she won the Gold in the Heptathlon, and in the same winning effort, set a new world record, finishing in just 2 minutes and 8.65 seconds. Her total 6,995 points put her 306 points ahead of her German adversary, Lilli Schwarzkopf. This would become one of the more iconic moments of London 2012. Speaking about her momentous victory, Jessica commented, “I honestly can’t believe it after all the hard work and after the disappointment in Beijing 2008 (when she was unable to compete due to injury.)”
BBC Athletics commentator Brendan Foster described Jessica as being “one of the all-time British greats”, adding “It’s a sad day for the sport – but a great day for her.”
The firm decision to retire came as no surprise to some, having hinting at a possible retirement after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics back in August.
Speaking to the BBC, Jessica’s coach, Toni Minichiello, described her as being “one of our sporting greats”, adding, “Despite all the fame and money she’s never forgotten where she’s come from – most of her friends she’s had from school days. She’s humble, she grafts, she pushes herself hard and she never gives up.”
But where did she come from?
Originally from Sheffield, as a 15-year-old budding athlete, Jessica applied to SportsAid, a charity who offer funding in the early stages of young British sportsmen and women’s careers to help them become the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians.
In her application to SportsAid, Jessica stated she aspired to “improve PBs and gain selection for the Great Britain team” in the coming season, with a long term goal to “compete in major championships.” She listed her merits as being a member of both the Great Britain Under 20 junior athletic and the U17 School Team at King Ecgbert School in her native Sheffield.
Closing her Instagram post, Jessica warmly thanked her family, her team and all those who followed and supported her throughout her career, describing how “Sport has been such a huge part of my life.”
Jessica plans to use her retirement to spend time with her family, and work on her future plans.