Heptathlon Preview: Will Jessica Ennis-Hill Win Olympic Gold?

Olympics
Updated Sunday 14th August 2016, 03:42 AM

One of the most eagerly-anticipated contests of Rio 2016 for British fans will be the battle between reigning Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the heptathlon, a gruelling two-day challenge to decide the finest all-round female athlete in the world. With several other contenders who could prevent a one-two for Team GB also taking part, each of the seven events promises to produce exciting twists and turns before the big finish in the 800m.

How the Bookies See it

Winner: Jessica Ennis-Hill 11/8, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 15/8, Brianne Theisen-Eaton 5/2 - Paddy Power

Top Three Finish: Jessica Ennis-Hill 1/5, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 2/5, Brianne Theisen-Eaton 1/2 - Ladbrokes

Straight Forecast: Ennis-Hill/Johnson-Thompson 11/4, Johnson-Thompson/Ennis-Hill 7/2, Ennis-Hill/Theisen-Eaton 9/2 - Sky Bet

Schedule of Events

100m Hurdles - Friday 13:35 BST

High Jump - Friday 14:50 BST

Shot Put - Saturday 00:35 BST

200m - Saturday 02:05 BST

Long Jump - Saturday 15:45 BST

Javelin - Sunday 00:00 BST

800m - Sunday 02:50 BST

The Contenders

Jessica Ennis-Hill coped with the pressure of being the face of the games at London 2012 to notch a British and Commonwealth record score of 6,955 points and become Olympic champion. She missed the following year’s world championships due to injury and then did not participate in the 2014 season after having a baby. She returned to peak condition incredibly quickly to win last year’s world championships and has continued to impress this year, although she will probably need to improve on her season’s best of 6,733 in Ratingen in June to defend her title.

Ennis-Hill has said that she is ‘sure’ Katarina Johnson-Thompson will be better than her one day. Johnson-Thompson, or KJT, bettered Ennis-Hill’s British junior record and has some impressive personal bests among the individual events, but her problem has been putting the performances together in a heptathlon. She fouled three times in the long jump at last year’s world championships to slump to 28th place and has only managed a season’s best of 6,304 in Gotzis this year.

Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton has the best score in the world this year of 6,765. The wife of decathlon superstar Ashton Eaton, she is a two-time world silver medalist. Laura Ikauniece-Admidina of Latvia, who took bronze at last year’s world championships, is a rapidly improving 24-year-old and another double-barrelled contender, while 23-year-old Dutchwoman Anouk Vetter showed her appetite for the big occasion by winning the recent European Championships, although most of the top names were not present ahead of the Olympics.

Sports.net’s View

The heptathlon is as much to do with consistency as it is with excellence, and that is the biggest issue for Johnson-Thompson. She is world-class at both the high jump and long jump at her best, but needs to show that she has learned from last year’s horror show at the world championships and get decent scores on the board in those events, as well as limiting the damage on her weakest disciplines like the shot put and javelin.

Ennis-Hill generally has fewer chinks in her armour across the seven events and is particularly adept at the 100m hurdles, which comes first in the schedule. If she can go close to her best in the hurdles and get in front of her rivals, they may start to feel the pressure and she has the experience to keep delivering solid performances to keep them at bay.

Ikauniece-Admidina and Vetter may not quite have the potential of Johnson-Thompson, but are similarly young and exciting and arguably have stronger CVs at this stage of their careers. While KJT is undoubtedly a star of the future and could make her big breakthrough in Rio, it seems more likely that she will not reach her potential for another couple of years and, as such, Ennis-Hill is an understandable favourite. Theisen-Eaton has the pedigree to push her close and could be worth a punt in Sky Bet’s straight forecast market.

  • Sports.net’s top tip: Jessica Ennis-Hill/Brianne Theisen-Eaton in a straight forecast - 9/2 at Sky Bet

*Please note, odds may fluctuate.

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Published:
Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2016 03:42:16+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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