Dina and KJT advised to consult 2012 poster girl Ennis-Hill ahead of Olympics
Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson have been advised to put in a New Year’s call to Jess Ennis-Hill.
British athletics’ golden girls carry the track and field hopes of a nation into this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
And athletics great Sebastian Coe believes the world champion duo should consult Ennis-Hill on the pressures that come with being poster girls in sport’s greatest show.
Two-time Olympic champion Coe has warned the pair against changing anything in their training routine ahead of the delayed Tokyo Games.
But the president of World Athletics says his best advice is that they seek out Ennis-Hill for the inside story on how she shouldered the full weight of British expectation at London 2012.
Ennis-Hill made light of a potentially crushing burden to win gold in the heptathlon and cap a Super Saturday for Britain which will never be forgotten.
Coe, the boss of London 2012, said: “Jess is the one person I would advise them to go and talk to.
“I honestly do not think there was anybody in the Games in London that had more expectation and pressure sitting on their shoulders.
“She went through London 2012 as the poster child so any time spent talking to her just about what it was like to have to withstand that (expectation) would be invaluable.”
Asher-Smith, 25, was crowned world 200m champion in Doha a little over a year ago and heads to Tokyo as an individual Olympic medal contender for the first time.
Johnson-Thompson, 27, won heptathlon gold in Doha but finished well outside the medals at her two previous Olympics.
Coe says there is no question both athletes have the ability to win in Tokyo and does not believe the year-long postponement will hurt their chances.
“They got over the disappointment really quickly,” he said. “And because they’re resilient and they have always had the ability to look a number of years down the road I don’t think those delays are going to be so huge for them.
“The one bit of advice I would give is what Jess really was very clear about: 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.
“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.”
Save for a couple of low-key races on her home track Asher-Smith, the fastest female British sprinter in history, has not competed since adding 200m gold to 100m silver at the Worlds 15 months ago.
Johnson-Thompson did make a handful of appearances indoors and out but has not put together a heptathlon since Doha.
Coe added: “I would say to both, just focus on your own space. Do what you need to do.”
Tokyo ended 2020 reporting a daily record of 1,337 new Covid-19 infections – sparking fresh fears about the Olympics going ahead at the second time of asking.
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