The final event of the first day saw both Jessica Ennis and Liverpool’s Katrina Johnson-Thompson drawn together in the fifth heat of the 200 metres. Both women’s personal bests are under 24 seconds and Jessica would certainly have to be somewhere near hers of 22.88 to be within a shout of regaining the lead and going into the second and final day on top spot.
The leader after the third round started in the second heat alongside Louise Hazel and the woman lying in third place Lille Schwarzkopf. It really was all to play for the Sheffield woman.
The first heat saw Margaret Simpson once more withdraw from the competition. The Polish sensation, Tyminska destroyed the field, finishing ahead by several yards but outside of Jessica Ennis’s best time. All eyes in the stadium were then drawn to the second heat and certainly many British hearts were willing for both Schwarzkopf and Skujyte to fall short of the best times and also for Louise Hazel to start enjoying her games.
The audience hadn’t forgotten the young woman though and reserved her a warm reception when she was announced to the stadium. Whatever the crowd did, it obviously worked as Louise strode to victory in a season’s best time of 24.10 seconds. The Birchfield Harrier had the race of her life and in further good news for the British camp, Austra Skujyte was well off the pace and finished in just a shade under 24 and half seconds. The relief and agony on both athletes’ faces told it all, for Louise Hazel it was a good end to a poor day and for the Lithuanian it meant she knew that if Jessica was on her game, then she would go into day two as overall leader.
In the third heat the Swiss Ellen Spruger ran the 200 metres of her life too as she came off the outside lane to give her a chance to move up the table before close of day. The fourth heat saw American Hyleas Fountain run to improve her day which had started well but had drifted over the following two events. In the end she also registered a season best and went into the lead before the final run of the day.
The stadium’s expectation rose, would Jessica Ennis pull something very special out of the bag, dig deep into those Sheffield guts and give Britain hope of second say to remember. It was wonder if Jessica Ennis could feel the entire nation’s eyes on her as she prowled the start line. She certainly would have heard the roar as both she and Katrina lined up to take on the world. The roar was deafening but still Jessica looked as solid as the steel that Sheffield is proud of having produced.
In the blink of an eye Jessica grabbed a personal best but it was hard work for her, tracking down the talented Dutch woman Dafne Schippers with every stride. With one last hurl at the line Jessica tied level with super Schippers and regained the lead on the overall table. The time was important and in the end it was more than enough to give Jessica a very healthy lead going into day two.
Leader board after four events. Day One close of play.
1st. Jessica Ennis (Great Britain) 4158 points
2nd Austra Skujyte (Lithuania) 3974 points
3rd. Jessica Zelinka (Canada) 3903 points
4th. Lyudmyla Yosypenko ( Ukraine) 3902 points
5th. Hyleas Fountain (United States of America) 3900 points
Ian D. Hall