Jessica Ennis' savvy sponsorship deals with companies like Adidas have her on course to earn £1 million for London's 2012 Games - the first female athlete ever to do so. The 26-year-old heptathlon queen is also the favourite to snare gold in the gruelling event. But despite the fame and fortune that surrounds her, modest Jessica is keeping her cool. "I don't want to get carried away with it," she tells HELLO!.
"I know how difficult it's going to be to win a gold medal, so I keep very much focused in the now, and make sure I take all the right steps to get there. "But if you have a lot of pressure it means you're doing something right." Although focused on victory, the multi-event star can't help but look ahead to her impending nuptials with her fiancé, construction site manager Andy Hill, pictured below. The pair will wed next year, and the bride-to-be is thrilled.
"It's a lovely distraction!" she admits "Even if it's just looking on the internet for ideas on how to dress a venue." For the weeks leading up to the Games and during, Jessica and her beau will be apart. "Andy's handling it all right, but he finds it strange. As an athlete you do have to be quite selfish, and it's tough on your partner.But he needs to make sure he's there for me this year because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." There are high hopes the celebrated MBE athlete will win gold in the capital, after injury forced her to pull out of the Beijing Games in 2008.
Being on home turf with a largely British crowd will be a bonus. "It makes a difference when everyone is cheering you on and you feel that support. I think it helps my performance." She has missed "the madness of London and all its build-up", as she describes it, by staying in a holding camp in Portugal in the ten days leading up to the Games. "You have to taper down," she explains "And then, a few days before you compete, you do virtually nothing – maybe a light warm-up, a jog and a stretch, and that's it.
"To be honest, it's quite nice. I might catch up with friends, take the dog out or watch TV. Then, the day before an event, the idea is to have a really lazy, quiet day." Unlike other competitors, Jessica doesn't have lucky charms – but she is superstitious. If she's done well in an event after having a particular breakfast, for example, then she might have that same breakfast again.And she also has a set routine before a race. "I step onto the block, I have a hand on the side of my leg, I tie my hair back, take a few breaths, look down the track, try to settle into the block so I rock a bit, and then I'm ready to go."So, what will Jessica be thinking as the nation's hopes ride on her toned shoulders? "I just think about technical things I want to achieve" she says calmly.See Jessica in action when Women's Heptathlon begins on Friday, August 3