Minichiello targets history for Ennis-Hill



Minichiello targets history for Ennis-Hill

11 December 2015 / 14:30

With Olympic heptathlon gold and numerous World and European titles, Jessica Ennis-Hill has established herself as one of athletics’ superstars – a role model that millions around the world look up to.

But every journey has to begin with a first step – and in the case of Ennis-Hill, that all began aged just 13 when she had her first training session with long-term coach Toni Minichiello.

Growing up in Sheffield where she attended Sharrow Primary School before moving into King Ecgbert Secondary School, Ennis-Hill and her younger sister Carmel would attend local athletics camps in the school holidays.

It was at one of these sessions at Don Valley Athletics Stadium where she met Minichiello, and a coaching relationship – which continues to this day – first started to blossom.

Ennis-Hill’s list of achievements are impressive, with one of her finest hours coming three years ago when she rose above the pressure of being one of the home favourites to seal Olympic gold at London 2012.

Since then the 29-year-old has taken time away from the sport due to injuries and the birth of her son, but Ennis-Hill announced her return in impressive style this summer when she secured her second World Championship title in Beijing.

And Minichiello admits the progress of Ennis-Hill over the last 12 months had been an eye-opener for both of them.

“It’s been an interesting year and it’s been a learning year for me to be working with someone coming back from pregnancy,” he said.

“It’s been a bit of a journey because in 2013 Jess was injured and in 2014 she was pregnant so this year coming back we were trying to avoid injury and just improve.

“I think the role of a coach is a support mechanism to someone like that to help them get them back to the level they were at physically and mentally.

“You have to adapt and any coach does, the down side is that I am not in a team environment where I can substitute Jess at half time.

“You have to work with the people you have and their downsides and insecurities and improve it and support them in whatever way you can as a coach.

“But it’s not me going out there to do it so I can’t really bark orders and she is a young lady who has big sponsors and a different lifestyle to the 13 year old I first met and started working with.”

For Ennis-Hill, the next big target will be trying to make history by successfully defending her Olympic title in Rio next summer.

Although Minichiello revealed his athlete’s focus had taken on a new dimension since the birth of her son.

“No British woman has retained an Olympic title; that has never been done before so that’s a nice one to try and tick off,” he added.

“If you are looking for a target to set for yourself then that’s it because it is difficult when you have won an Olympic gold medal, you have climbed Everest and then you get to the bottom and someone says go and do it again.

“It’s difficult to motivate yourself again but you look for motivations and she has her son and it’s not as selfish a target as it was before.

“Now it’s about winning for family and creating a legacy for her own children.” 

Sportsbeat 2015