SEB COE has the perfect advice for Britain’s Golden Girls before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics: Go and talk to Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and all-rounder Katarina Johnson-Thompson will have the weight of the country on their shoulders when they get to Japan this July.
Jessica Ennis-Hill coped with the pressure of the London 2012 Olympics to win heptathlon goldCredit: Reuters
The pair are reigning world champions in the 200m and heptathlon respectively and will be expected to achieve glory in the Japanese capital.
Only NINE women have won gold for Britain in track-and-field since the Tokyo 1964 Games.
One of those is the now retired Ennis-Hill, 34, who delivered heptathlon gold eight years ago when she was the poster-girl of the London 2012 Olympics.
And Coe, a two-time 1500m Olympic champion, reckons the Sheffield star knows better than anyone had to deal with pressure.
Coe, 64, said: “The one person that I would advise them probably to go and talk to –and I’m sure she would be amenable to it because she’s that type of person – is Jessica Ennis-Hill.
“She went through London 2012 as the poster child and in seasons in advance, the World Championships, she produced terrific performances.
Ennis-Hill, pictured with Coe and then London mayor Boris Johnson, was a woman in demand in 2012Credit: Graham Hughes – The Times
“She probably would give insights of a more topical nature than I’m able to give.
“You know I’m probably throwing her a bit of a curveball here.
“But anytime spent talking to her just about what it was like to have to withstand that expectation.
“I honestly do not think there was anybody in the Games in London that probably had more expectation and pressure sitting on their shoulders.
“What she really was very clear about is that she did not leave her coaching environment.
“She didn’t play around with variables. She stuck to the same system, the same city, the same training venues, and she kept it about as normal as she possibly could.
Ennis-Hill, now retired from athletics, is a mum of twoCredit: Reuters
“That’s not always easy in an Olympic year but I think she wasn’t just perfect in her competitions.
“I think her build-up, given the enormity of the pressure on her, was probably textbook.”
Britain won four athletic gold medals at the London Games and then two at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Over the past four years the sport has lost some of its allure in the eyes of the British public.
There were no big events in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the governing body in this country has seen big changes with a new head coach (Christian Malcolm) and CEO (Jo Coates).
Even though he is the head of World Athletics, Coe plays an active role with the young British squad, often speaking on the telephone and Zoom with the emerging talents.
Coe said: “There is a fantastic crop of young athletes coming through.
“For many years I have often sat and chatted to the middle-distance athletes, male and female, that have come through.
Dina Asher-Smith stunned the world of sprinting in 2019 when she won the 200m world titleCredit: PA:Press Association
“I’ve had similar conversations with Laura Muir, Jake Wightman, who I speak to a lot.
“I had a long conversation with Daniel Rowden the other day.
“I’m actually comforted now that from the discussions I’m having with these athletes, that this current crop really do understand, probably more than earlier generations exactly what it takes in order to get to the highest level.
“We’ve got a really powerful cohort of young athletes coming through.
“And that’s got to be good commercially, that’s got to be good Box Office for us.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson was crowned world heptathlon champion in Doha in 2019Credit: PA:Press Association
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk