Olympic gold medalist, World champion, CBE recipient and all-round Team GB inspiration, Jessica Ennis-Hill is without a doubt, one of the finest athletes this country has ever seen.
Currently preparing for the defence of her Olympic heptathlon title in Rio, the last four years have seen Jessica take on a new role, that of mother, to nearly two-year-old Reggie. And, only a year after giving birth, she was back to her best, winning gold at the most recent World Championships. Her rise back to the top hasn’t been easy though and she credits her mum, Alison Powell, for inspiring her to never give up on her Olympic Games dream despite injury setbacks and the mental challenges of training. She says, “I really don’t believe I would have been able to achieve any of my World, Olympic or European medals without the support and strength of my mum throughout my life. That’s even truer now as I’m juggling the very different but equally important challenges of being a mum myself to an energetic toddler and my full-on preparations for Rio 2016. She is the most amazing grandma and plays a key role in helping to look after Reggie when I am training and Andy is working.”
She adds, “There have been lots of times in training when you feel ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore’. You’re really fatigued physically and mentally, preparing for an Olympic Games is a really stressful thing and you think to yourself ‘Can I do this?’ or ‘Do I want to do this?’ My mum always just says ‘You can do it, it is going to be hard but if you have a hard journey to something, that’s not plain sailing, then the end point is always that much sweeter when you are successful.”
To highlight the pivotal role mums play in their children’s lives, Jessica and her mother Alison are ambassadors for P&G’s Thank You Mum campaign - an initiative created to celebrate the strength of motherhood and how they help their children achieve their dreams. We caught up with Jessica to find out more about the campaign, how becoming a mother herself has affected her life off and on the track and to gain a glimpse into her winning training routine.
GTG: Nowadays, it feels like getting and keeping children active is getting harder and harder. How did your mother encourage you to keep active when you were growing up and how has that influenced your views in terms of what you’d like to pass on to your children?
JE-H: My mum and dad introduced me to athletics when I was 10. So for my mum to be on this whole journey from start to finish is so important.
She’s such a key part of why I’ve been so successful. She’s there to support me, just as a mum to say, “Everything is going to be okay, you’re going to be great” - but of course I also want her to enjoy the experience. The Olympics is such a unique, amazing, special occasion and she’s been such a huge part of my athletics career.
My mum did athletics at school, like most people do, but never took it to the next level. She felt that sport is such a good thing for kids to do. You gain so much from doing sport, you’re out there being active and you’re meeting different people. I think a part of it was a way to get me and my sister out of the house, to enjoy the summer holidays and do lots of different things. That was my first introduction to athletics, and I just loved it and haven’t stopped doing it since.
GTG: How do you balance fitness, sport, career and family now you’re a mum? Could you give us a glimpse into your weekly workout routine?
JE-H: My routine has completely changed since I became a mum. I used to train twice a day, six times a week but now I just do three or four hours in the morning. I train at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and I now have a gym in the garage at my home so once Reggie has gone down I can exercise in there. During this time, I might lift weights or go on the exercise bike. I’m really lucky to have a big family network around me in Sheffield so that definitely helps!