Jessica Ennis-Hill is nearly certain that this was her last ever heptathlon and it’s tough.
Ennis-Hill wiped away tears after losing her Olympic title to Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam on Saturday by a very slim margin, but she wasn’t crying about that.
At first she called them “happy tears” because it’s another medal, but then acknowledged how hard it was going to be to give up and just how close she was to doing that.
“I think it’s a mix of thinking back to the last few years,” she said. “I’m just so emotional and, yeah, I’ve just got to make a decision as to whether this is my last heptathlon or not. I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved the last few years. I’ve got to have a think.”
Judging by the emotion, it looks like it will end in Rio de Janeiro.
She looks back on two world titles, and of course the delight of that Olympic gold medal four years ago at her home games in London, when she, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford delivered three golds for the home fans on what became known as Super Saturday.
Farah retained his 10,000 meters title on Saturday in Rio, but Ennis-Hill had silver and Rutherford took bronze in the long jump.
“It would have been incredible (to all win gold again) and that was a really tall ask for all of us,” Ennis-Hill said. “But … we’ve all produced medals again four years down the line.”
The 30-year-old Ennis-Hill, now a mother to two-year-old Reggie, missed out on retaining her title by around three seconds in the final event. Ennis-Hill needed to beat Thiam by 10 seconds in the 800 meters to clinch the gold.
“I was like ‘oh god that’s so much’,” she said. “But I just thought, I’m going to run hard like I always do.”
She was only about seven seconds ahead at the end, with the 21-year-old Belgian keeping in touch to protect her lead and throw up a big, surprising result. Thiam delivered five personal bests on the way to the title, only six weeks after injuring her elbow.
“I knew she was going to run hard for that gold medal and not let slip those two days of amazing performances,” Ennis-Hill said.
There were no gripes about losing for Ennis, but a couple about the schedule. Late nights, then packing up, eating and preparing for the next day, she said she was working on between 4-5 hours’ sleep for the final day of the heptathlon.
Still, it’s an Olympic silver medal, she said, and she had to enjoy it. More than anything because it could be the last time.
“I might not do this again,” she said, wrapped in a British flag. “It is just a really strange part of my career.”