Athletics: Toni Minichiello and Lee McConnell back Jessica Ennis-Hill to return

Last Updated: 10/01/14 4:28pm

Coach Toni Minichiello and fellow athlete Lee McConnell are backing Jessica Ennis-Hill to make a return to the very top level after the birth of her first child.

The star of the 2012 Olympics and the Sky Sports Living for Sport Ambassador has announced she is pregnant and will miss this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But Ennis-Hill's coach Minichiello and 400m runner McConnell - herself a new mother - believe that the 27-year-old can yet fulfill her dream of defending her Olympic title in Rio in 2016.

Minichiello told Sky Sports News said: "She's been training fully to this point, doing the javelin sessions with Keith Hill and doing the running here in Sheffield on the indoor track. The training has pretty much being carrying on as normal.

"We have three three month periods going into pregnancy and the work we do will vary as we go into those three different periods. Then the first two months after giving birth - providing everything goes to form - then we will start building the work back up steadily after that.

"The power work is very different from the aerobic and running, so we will take it a step at a time.

"There is an indoor season potentially depending on how well she does but there is the World Championships in Beijing in 2015, which will be the aim, but she will have to do a heptathlon before that in order to qualify.

"Getting her fit for May, that will be the primary focus, with the possibility of an indoor season before that."

McConnell, 35, is hoping she can regain fitness quickly enough to make the Scottish team for the Commonwealth Games this summer - despite having given birth to baby Ethan just nine weeks ago.


She too believes that, provided she does not suffer any complications, Ennis-Hill will be able to resume her own career in due course.

"I was able to do quite a lot during pregnancy it was only in the last month that I wasn't able to run on the track," McConnell said. "Then I switched my attentions indoors and was able to continue my training in the gym on the cross-trainer. Ethan was born on the Thursday and I was training up until Tuesday evening.

"The training has to be altered a lot but provided you have a good pregnancy without complications you can keep the training going.

"It is a big challenge getting back. It was a bit harder than I anticipated to be honest. If you have a good pregnancy and birth then obviously that makes it a lot easier to get back. It is achievable.

"The instincts are to stay with your baby rather than go back out and train. So there is an big emotional side to it as well as the physical side.

"Jess has time on her side more than I do and age on her side too as I am little bit older then her. Her body will cope better then mine has so for her to comeback it is certainly doable - but it's a challenge."

The 2004 Olympic gold medalist and Sky Sports presenter Darren Campbell is adamant there is plenty of time for Ennis-Hill to regroup ahead of the Olympics in two years time.

"The good news is that she has already spoken about being involved in Rio, which is fantastic " he said. "There is more than enough time to get back healthy and get back up to steam and be able to compete very well there.

"Jess is in fantastic position after her gold in London so the pressure is off a little bit. The big question will be 'Is the hunger still there?' and only she will be able to answer that after the birth."

Sky Sports' critically-acclaimed Sportswomen show returns for its second series next week - Tuesday at 10.30am on Sky Sports News.