Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson were first and second after two events in the heptathlon at the World Championships, following a morning in Beijing that had its share of drama.
Gold medallist at the 2009 world championships, Ennis-Hill clocked 12.91 seconds in her 100 metres hurdles heat in blazing sunshine at the Bird’s Nest stadium before clearing a season’s-best 1.86 metres in the high jump.
Ennis-Hill remained in the lead after the third event of the day, the shot put, but she was disappointed with a throw of 13.73m, especially given she appeared to go well over 14m with her first attempt only for her to lose her balance and fall out of the circle. It was the Sheffield athlete’s most disappointing result of the three, 22 centimetres below her best throw of the year.
“I am pleased”, said Ennis-Hill through a steely smile.
Ennis Hill, 29, said: “It is a challenge that both are relishing”. “Personally I thought they were the ones who decided if they were going to release it or not – so I really don’t have an issue with that”.
“I would like to get two good events in the long jump and javelin and give myself an easier time because she is Olympic champion”.
Unless disaster strikes in the 800m, where Ennis-Hill has a personal best of 2:07.81, nearly four seconds ahead of Broersen, the title is hers.
Eilidh Child and Meghan Beesley secured safe passage to the 400m hurdles semi-finals, with the latter finishing her heat third with a personal best of 54.52secs.
Although an “added bonus” in a comeback season, Ennis-Hill is at these World Championships with the sole intention of winning a medal.
She has not done a heptathlon for 15 months due to injury, struggling with a knee problem after Prague and then a quad issue in July.
And she got some unfortunate help from 22-year-old teammate Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who looked like Ennis-Hill’s biggest challenger until she fouled out on all three of her long jump attempts. “It’s just that competition practice I am missing”.
Fastest in the 200 was Johnson-Thompson, in 23.08 seconds, as she chalked up a total of 3,925 points to climb from ninth to second position. “I keep putting in different score combinations into my iPad and thinking “if I have a real bad high jump then maybe I can run this in the 200m” but I definitely think I’ll need 6,700 for the podium”.
“I didn’t want to talk to her in case I got in the way of her focus”, she said. Theisen Eaton’s gold medal chances were hit when she managed only a modest clearance in the high jump. “I had a bit of a faulty run-up so I’m happy that didn’t all end in tears”.