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Jessica Ennis-Hill: Bronze, she said. Gold, she won. Never underestimate a new mum…

August 24th 2015 / Anna Hunter

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British athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill is the first mum ever to become a heptathlon world champion. Talk about Monday motivation…

If your screen fatigue is kicking in, you’re considering cancelling that PT session or are feeling a bit uninspired by the likes of grey skies, impending tube strikes, and just, you know, Mondays, give a thought for multiple gold winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill. She famously stormed the athletics track on ‘super Saturday’ during the London 2012 Olympics, winning gold for her country and having many of us doing hurdles of delight around the living room, but her recent win is possibly even more awe-inspiring and equally the stuff of legend.

Having given birth to her first child Reggie barely a year ago, and resumed training last autumn, Jess went on not only to balance motherhood with likely tougher than ever practice and drills, but also overcame an Achilles injury in the process. If you’re facing some tricky odds, find comfort in the fact that Jess certainly was too. She fought on regardless, readying herself for the World Championships and medal podium:

“If I’d come away with a bronze I’d have been so happy.”

As you’ll know by now, she didn’t. She got the gold, despite admitting that 2015 has been ‘the hardest year ever’. Cool, calm, collected, level-headed and eeking out the competition in each of the seven events that took place in Beijing over the weekend, Jessica proved her muscle, might and mental strength. No one puts a woman with a new baby in the corner. You may not be slick with the shot put or particularly gifted when it comes to throwing a javelin spear, but Jessica’s success is a lesson to all women that, no matter what you’ve got on your plate, you can still get to where you want to go. Just don’t let anyone underestimate you on the way (not even yourself) and don’t be afraid to go back to basics, as 29 year old Jessica did when resuming her training (her Instagram account reveals that she started with less- intense runs and weight training, rather than hitting the high jump hard). Some people claimed Jessica was too small to succeed, and expectations for the top spot at the World Championships were slim to none, but nevertheless she got the support she needed, did the groundwork and brought home the gold, not for the first time. With the likes of fellow Olympic sports women and mothers equestrian Zara Phillips, rower Anna Watkins and long-distance runner Jo Pavey (who’s also incidentally approaching her 42nd birthday), Jessica is proving that sport, professional prowess and motherhood may never again be deemed mutually exclusive.

New, or indeed ‘old’ mum? You’ll likely find Emma Bartley’s ‘Doing It All’ column rather refreshing…

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