The last time Jessica Ennis-Hill competed at the World Championships, back in Daegu in 2011, she finished in second place after a disappointing result in the javelin throw. Four years later, and having given birth to her son just 13 months ago, the 29-year-old won her second world heptathlon title.
The Briton knew that she needed to improve on her 6520 score from Gotzis in May. Her significant improvements in the 200m and long jump since then proved crucial in her securing the gold medal.
Ennis-Hill herself predicted that the long jump would be, in her own words, “the turning point” of the competition, and so it was with team-mate Katarina Johnson-Thompson falling down the rankings after three fouls and Ennis-Hill jumping a season’s best of 6.43m, just eight centimetres shy of her personal best.
In the 800m, world leader Brianne Theisen-Eaton gave it a good try, going through 200m in 30.11 and 400m in 62.83 in an attempt to put as much distance – and points – between her and Ennis-Hill. But it her plan proved too ambitious and the Briton eventually passed her rival on the home straight to win in 2:10.13.
It brought Ennis-Hill’s score to a season’s best of 6669, moving her to second place on the world list behind Theisen-Eaton’s 6808 world lead from Gotzis. The Canadian clocked 2:11.52 to finish second with a total of 6554, taking her second consecutive silver at the World Championships. In between those, she also finished second in the pentathlon at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot.
Just like in Moscow two years ago, the battle for bronze was fierce. Knowing that she was only 0.95 seconds from the bronze medal, Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece-Adminina started her push for the final sprint with 250 metres to go. First it seemed that Nadine Broersen could stand the change in pace, but when the front straight opened before the runners, it was clear that the Dutchwoman could not hang on to the medal.
The 23-year-old Latvian emerged as surprise bronze medallist with a national record of 6516 after clocking 2:13.79 in the 800m. It was her third heptathlon of the season and her third national record.
Broersen ran 2:16.58 to finish fourth overall with 6491, improving on her 10th-place finish from Moscow when she significantly stumbled in the hurdles.
Germany’s Claudia Rath was the fastest 800m runner, winning the third heat in 2:09.66 for 6441 points and fifth place, one position lower than in Moscow two years ago.
Hungarian Gyorgyi Zsivoczky-Farkas was the second-biggest surprise in this competition behind Ikauniece-Adminina. The 30-year-old had not completed a heptathlon this season and her previous personal best of 6269 was set in 2013, but here she crushed her PB with 6389 for sixth place having run a season’s best of 2:14.71 in the 800m.
In seventh place, Ukraine’s Anastasiya Mokhnyuk added 28 points to her PB with 6359 and Nadine Visser was eighth with 6344. Xenia Krizsan in ninth (6322) and Jennifer Oeser in 10th (6308) were the other athletes over 6300 points.
Experts predicted before the competition that all the medallists would have a double-barrelled name, believing that Ennis-Hill, Theisen-Eaton and Johnson-Thompson would be the medallists. Although the Briton fell out of medal contention after the long jump, Latvia’s Ikauniece-Adminina stepped up and made the prediction true.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF