Last year at this time, Jessica Ennis-Hill earned the title mom, and now she can once again carry the unofficial title of ‘world’s greatest female athlete.’ Away from major competition since winning the gold medal at the London Olympics three years ago, the British 29-year-old came from behind down the final stretch of the 800 meters Sunday in Beijing to win her second heptathlon world championship and first since Berlin 2009 with 6,669 points.
“It’s been a very different year for me, very challenging coming back into full competition, but I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Ennis-Hill said. “It’s all been quite hard. It was definitely emotional, purely for the reason, last year at this time I just had Reggie (her son), a lot of emotions.”
Ennis-Hill joins Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Sabine Brown as two-time winners of the event, with Carolina Kluft the only triple champion. She placed fourth in 2007, before winning in 2009 and taking silver in 2011. Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton (6,554 points), the favorite who won the silver medal in Moscow, led for a better part of the final event and topped Ennis-Hill by the slimmest of margins in the long jump and javelin.
“I can’t get my hands on the gold medal,” Theisen-Eaton said. “I think I would have been disappointed if someone told me at the beginning, but with the way everything went, I’m happy with the silver. I can take a lot into next year.”
Laura Ikauniece-Admidina of Latvia won the bronze medal with 6,516 points. It was a personal record for her, eclipsing the 6,414 points she scored at the London Olympics, where she placed ninth. She was 11th at Moscow in 2013.
“I’m very happy, It was a big surprise,” said Ikauniece-Admidina, whose 53.67-meter javelin throw was second in the competition and over 10 meters longer than Ennis-Hill’s.
American Sharon Day-Monroe, who was sixth in the 2013 World Championships, was 14th with 1,062 points.The 30-year-old was 16th at London in the heptathlon and placed 12th in the high jump at the Bird’s Nest in 2008.
“It’s been a rough couple of days, I was hoping to do a lot better,” Day-Monroe said. “It just didn’t show in the last couple days. I just need to keep working hard, and eventually it will pay off.”
Barbara Nwaba of the U.S., who struggled in the opening day, bounced back with personal bests of 6.08 in the long jump and 46.59 in the javelin for a total of 5,315 points, which was 27th overall.
“Today was awesome,” Nwaba said. “I wanted to do well, my coach was happy I had my longest jump ever. I could have ended it there, but I was still going for it and kind of lost it in the last 200. I’m going to take it for what it is. I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable. I’m more than capable. I was in the lower group (in the javelin), but I still had my mindset on winning Group B, and that was huge. Any throw or jump, it doesn’t matter, I can still excel.”
MEN’S SHOT PUT
American Joe Kovacs, 26, overcame his height and veteran teammates to win the first gold medal for the U.S. in Beijing, with a shot put of 21.93 meters. David Storl of Germany won silver, O’Dayne Richards of Jamaica bronze, and Reese Hoffa of the U.S. was fifth.
“It is my first World Championships,” the six-foot Kovacs said. “The U.S. is always so good in the shot put, the hardest thing is to make the team. We’re always trading spots, so it’s very exciting. Being a small guy, I focus more on gymnastics and other things, with the spin I get a lot of velocity for the wind up.”
Kovacs mentioned that the cameraman has to duck down from all of the other taller throwers once he gets to the post. Now he can look down from the top of the podium.
MEN’S HAMMER THROW
Defending champion Pawel Fajdek of Poland retained his title in the men’s hammer throw at 80.88 meters. Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan took silver, just the third ever World Championship medal for his nation – the other two being in the same event, and Wojciech Nowicki of Poland won bronze.
“It’s my first championship like this, so I’m really happy I won the bronze medal,” Nowicki said. “I need more strength in the throws and more training.”