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Jessica Ennis delighted after final Olympic preparation at Loughborough

universitiesnewsJessica Ennis showed why she is the golden girl of British Athletics by turning on the style and charm at the Loughborough European Athletics Permit (LEAP) event.

In her final event before she bids to win the heptathlon gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, the 26-year-old from Sheffield not only won the long jump but also spent time with some of her adoring fans in the 300-strong crowd at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium.

After the javelin, in which she finished fourth, Jessica smiled her way through her media interviews before signing autographs and posing for pictures with two sets of volunteers.

It was the perfect way to win hearts and minds on a day when Loughborough boasted four winners, notably Will Sharman who achieved the A standard in the 110 metres hurdles and then revealed he is a reserve for Team GBs Olympic squad.

Jessica, the biggest name at LEAP, won the long jump with a leap of 6.21 metres and threw 44.73 metres in the javelin.

While many of her Team GB team mates will make Crystal Palace their last event before the Olympics, Jessica said she was delighted to be back at Loughborough University again – and even happier to have sorted out the long jump problems that plagued her at the Olympic trials.

“I’m used to doing meets like this and I’m happy to be doing my last preparation here,” said the former European and world heptathlon champion.

“It’s going to be very different at the Olympics and having that massive crowd will give you so much and help your performance. I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m just glad, touch wood, that I am in one piece. It’s my last competition so I have done all I can do. I’ll go away to the holding camp (in Portugal) and just sharpen up the best I can.

“I have done all the hard work, it’s now about putting it together in competition on those two days.

“I wouldn’t say I’m confident, I know everyone is going to be in great shape. I feel in good shape, I just want to be there and beginning it now.”

While her long jump was 30cm below her personal best and the javelin throw more than two metres down, she was happy.

“I’m not pleased with the (long jump) distance but after the trials I had to make changes to make sure I was getting on the board and not fouling. I felt loads better. My run up is much better, I just have to work on some flight stuff now.

“The javelin was good. I’d always love to throw a pb but I’m happy where I am at this stage. I don’t want to have my big throws too early.”

While Will Sharman missed out on Olympics selection at the trials and the European Championships he showed he is back to form by winning both 110 metres hurdles races, the first in 13.74secs and the second in 13.50secs, earning him the ‘A’ standard.

He said: “It’s nice to see a decent turn-out for quite a big event just before the Olympics.

“I am an official reserve for the Olympics. I am not going as yet, but fingers crossed. My form is growing.”

Meghan Beesley , who said she had spent two weeks trying to get over missing out on a place in Team GB in the 400 metres hurdles, ran three races. She was third in the 100 metres in 12.06secs, won her first 100 metres hurdles in 13.77secs and finished third in her second in 13.70 secs. After the 100 metres she said: “It’s nice to do something different. I have been hurdling all year chasing the ‘A’ standard.

“I wanted to come here and enjoy myself again and get back to what I used to do, some sprinting.”
Loughborough enjoyed a one-two in the javelin, Izzy Jeffs winning with 49.37 metres followed by Laura Whittingham (48.54).

In the 400m Men’s Invitation B race, Loughborough’s David Guest stormed to an easy win in 47.68secs while Dan Putnam (21.68) and Luke Evans (21.79) were just piped by Shaftsbury Barnet’s Confidence Lawson (21.37) in the 200m Men’s Invitation A.

In the 400m Men’s hurdles Invitation A, Loughborough’s Niall Flannery finished second in 51.29secs, while Jamaica had a one-two in the 400m Men’s Invitation A thanks to Peter Matthews (46.77), who is from the same stable as Usain Bolt, and Demar Murray (46.80).

Nick Dakin, LSACs director of coaching, was delighted that, apart from a couple of showers, the forecast rain did not show and that Jessica and the other athletes put on a good show.

He said: “We’re happy with how it’s gone. There were some good performances from some useful people.

“We have quite a good relationship with Jess and her coach. It was a big coup for us and a big plus to get some people in to watch an athlete of her calibre.

“Will Sharman’s sprint hurdles was really good. He is unlucky to be only a named reserve for the Olympics team. He is getting towards what he is capable of. He is a good athlete and it’s good to see him in good form.”

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