OLYMPIC heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis has won the women’s European athlete of 2012 award, European Athletics announced yesterday.
British athletics’ golden girl Ennis, whose image adorned posters promoting the London Games, fell narrowly short of the 7,000-point barrier while claiming the gold medal. She still notched 6,955 points and became the second woman only to score more than 6,900 points twice in the same year after American world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.
Ennis’ achievement will be celebrated during the European Athletics Awards Night in St Julians, Malta, a week tomorrow.
The men’s winner of the European Athlete of the Year award is to be announced today and the European Athletics Rising Star of the Year winners, Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic and Angelica Bengtsson of Sweden, will also be present to pick up their awards.
Ennis’s long-standing coach, Toni Minichiello, will be one of the keynote speakers at the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (IFAC) conference in Glasgow on 26-28 October (more on www.ifacscotland.co.uk).
Meanwhile, Susan Partridge heads for the World Half Marathon Championships in Bulgaria insisting that the event means so much more to her than a consolation for missing the Olympics.
The Oban-raised athlete who is now based near Leeds represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and ran the marathon for Team GB at the World Championships in Daegu in South Koreain 2011.
Partridge’s dream of an Olympic appearance at the longer distance disappeared in the London Marathon back in April but two good displays at the half marathon distance have set her up for Saturday’s IAAF Championship race in Kavarna.
A personal best in Bath early in 2012 was followed by a good run in Philadelphia last month to clinch the 32-year-old’s place alongside Gemma Steel and Welsh athlete Caryl Jones for the trip to Bulgaria.
“I am really looking forward to it and I feel I am ready,” said Partridge, 32. “I have had quite an easy week in terms of training to try and give myself the best possible preparation for an opportunity to race at the very highest level. I competed in the World Half Marathon Champs in Edmonton in Canada back in 2005 and then they changed to the World Road Running Champs. I went to one of those, as well. But it is a few years ago now and the good thing is I have run my best two half marathons over the course of 2012.
“The best was in Bath back in March when I did my PB of 71:34 and I was very happy with that back then. Then, only a few weeks ago, I did another in America in Philadelphia and the target there really was to get qualification for the Worlds and make Team GB and NI. I managed that and in fact my time of 72:22 is the second best I’ve run so it gives me a lot of confidence heading into Bulgaria.’
A whole raft of elite British athletes, of course, didn’t feature at London 2012 after missing out in the selection process and had to adjust their sights somewhat thereafter.
“I don’t want to think about this as a ‘consolation’ after the Olympics,” insisted Partridge. “It is a World Championships in its own right and you can’t run the Half Marathon at the Olympics. So you want to have a really positive approach as you head for the start line.
“Having said that, I do think a lot of athletes who didn’t make London 2012 have had to do a bit of soul-searching and re-focusing. From my point of view, the half marathon is my best event at the moment. There’s no doubt about that. I was looking towards the marathon for the Olympics but it didn’t quite happen for me in London in April. I actually thought it would hit me harder than it has. I thought watching the Games would make me think ‘How can I possibly lift myself for something else to follow this?’.
“But I haven’t felt like that. I am enjoying my running at the moment.”
Three top Scottish distance athletes are also preparing for marathon debuts later this month. Scottish Cross Country champion Derek Hawkins (Kilbarchan AAC) will head for Frankfurt along with John Newsom (Central AC) on Sunday 28 October. Andrew Douglas of Inverclyde AC, who won the River Ness 10k last weekend from second-placed Newsom, will race in Dublin the following day.