Jessica Ennis-Hill relishes ‘massive challenge’ of beating Olympic odds

• ‘I know how difficult it’s going to be’ to retain heptathlon title
• Katarina Thompson-Johnson has ‘that belief I can beat Jess’

The record books tell everything about the cliff face Jessica Ennis-Hill will have to climb when she begins the defence of her Olympic heptathlon title on Friday morning. No British track-and-field woman has won back-to-back Olympic titles. And only two in history have had a baby and retained an Olympic title over a four-year cycle: the Australian hurdler Shirley Strickland and the Cameroonian triple-jumper Françoise Mbango Etone. But, having defied the pressure she faced at London 2012, Ennis-Hill believes she can now defy history too.

“I am aware and I know how difficult it’s going to be,” she said. “I keep hearing all these little bits of stats flying around but I see it as a massive challenge for me. I feel like the odds are a little bit against me because it’s a huge thing to achieve but I’m relishing this opportunity to go out and see if I can do something really amazing at this stage in my career.”

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