Britain’s Jessica Ennis was today facing a nerve-wracking battle to add the European Championship heptathlon title to her medal collection.
Ennis took a 110-point lead into the second day of competition in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, but saw that reduced to 68 points despite a good performance in the long jump this morning.
The 24-year-old from Sheffield put in a consistent display with jumps of 6.28metres, 6.41m and 6.43m, the last-round effort being just eight centimetres below her personal best.
But Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska jumped 6.56m in the second round – just seven centimetres down on her personal best – to set up a tense final two events this evening.
Ennis has a personal best of 46.47m in the javelin – so often the Achilles heel of compatriot Kelly Sotherton – compared to Dobrynska’s best of 48.60m, but the Briton has the edge over her Ukrainian rival in the 800m.
The world champion’s personal best is more than three seconds quicker than Dobrynska’s, a factor which could make the difference between gold and silver.
Ennis said: "That was good, I'm pleased with the distance. I could have quite easily have lost (more) points there because they are big jumpers so I'm satisfied with that to have maintained the lead.
“It’s definitely going to be tight, Dobrynska’s right there and Jennifer Oeser had a great long jump so it’s not going to be easy to do. I’ve got to give it absolutely everything in the javelin and 800m and let’s see what happens.
“I think in Berlin I was quite a few points ahead so this is a different challenge. I don’t expect every heptathlon to be like the one in Berlin, although I wish it could be!
“It’s always going to be difficult and people are going to push you and it’s another different type of experience really and I hope I can come out on top.”