The Track Queen: Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

An enduring obsession with speed and timing is the starting requirement of all track competitors, but British heptathlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill—2012 Olympic gold and 2016 Olympic silver medallist, and three times world champion—says her stand-out ability to run fast gave her confidence as a slip of a child at school long before she learnt to heed starting guns and dive across finishing lines. Appropriately for someone deemed “too small” to achieve elite standards, her first watch was a child’s Disney watch which made her feel “so grown up”, and it was her maturity in wanting to focus and develop a round-the-clock work ethic that honed her competitive edge. A heptathlete competes in seven disciplines over two days, but the time taken by each athlete to perform their 100m hurdles, 200m sprint, 800m race, long jump, high jump, shot put and javelin throw without pause would be approximately three and a half minutes. “Speed is crucial, not only for the races but also for the run-ups to the jumps,” she says. “I was always looking for the next small gain.”—Sarah Edworthy

Photographed by Ben Harries in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, on July 6, 2017, wearing an Omega Speedmaster 38mm Co-Axial Chronograph

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