Part of complete coverage on
Human to Hero: Britain's heptathlon medal hope Jessica Ennis
updated 7:22 AM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Jessica Ennis celebrates winning the gold medal at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin with a then personal best tally of 6,731 points.
- British heptathlete Jessica Ennis is one of the favorites to take gold at the London Olympics
- Biggest inspiration in her career are her family who "got me where I am today"
- Missed out on Beijing Olympics through injury; London her first time competing at games
(CNN) -- Former world champion Jessica Ennis is one of Great Britain's big medal hopes for the London 2012 Olympics.
She has established herself as one of the top competitors in the seven-discipline heptathlon event, winning the gold medal at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
A year later she added the World Indoor pentathlon title to a growing list of accolades, as well as the European heptathlon crown.
Having started her senior athletics career in 2006, Ennis immediately made an impact by taking bronze in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Human to Hero: Jessica Ennis
CNN's Human to Hero series caught up with her during her preparations for her debut Summer Olympics in the UK capital.
"I started athletics when I was 10 years old. At that stage it was just a great opportunity to go and make loads of good friends, run around, do things and try events that I really enjoyed.
IAAF world champion 2009, world indoor pentathlon champion 2010
Up at 7.30 a.m. bed around 10.30-11 p.m.
No idea ... a lot!
How do you relax?
with friends, my fiancee, take my dog out for a walk
Italian food ... any Italian food
"It was when I got to the age of about 14-15 that I got picked for my first Great Britain international and I saw a completely different side of athletics. Something that was my hobby now had a really competitive side to it and I thought this is something I really want to do for a long time.
"When I started I tried everything -- the coach I was with wanted me to keep my options open and try all the different events and see where my talent lay. He believed in me and believed I could be a good heptathelete so I decided to give them all a go."
"I didn't particularly have one role model growing up. I remember watching a number of British athletes compete, it was a generation where every athlete was doing well -- Seb Coe, Steve Backley, Mick Hill, Sally Gunnell -- they inspired me.
"But I'm really inspired by the people around me. My family, my parents who introduced me to the sport and really got me where I am today."
"Winning the gold medal at the (2009) world championships in Berlin after the previous year missing the (Beijing) Olympics through injury. That was a real highlight of my career."
Ennis' tally of 6,731 points saw her finish 238 points ahead of second-placed Jennifer Oeser from Germany and 260 ahead of Poland's Kamila Chudzik.
"2008 was a really tough year. I was in great shape and really looking forward to my first Olympics. Then I picked up this injury that meant I would have to miss it.
"It was a real disappointment. It was the first major injury I had had as an athlete and it made me questions a lot of things and I felt really unlucky and it was really, really disappointing. It was hard to get myself up after that."
In May 2008, Ennis withdrew from a heptathlon competition complaining of pain in her right foot. A scan revealed three stress fractures.
"As a sportsperson you have massive highs and lows throughout your career. But it's having the people, the support around you to get through those low points and really enjoy the high points. You've got to work for them, you've got to expect that they are going to come. It's just about working through (low points) because you always come out the other end and that makes (winning) that little more sweet."
"It's a very surreal year for all the British athletes, I think. It's something we've not experienced before and it's going to be great."
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
updated 11:34 AM EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
updated 5:44 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
updated 3:38 AM EDT, Sun August 12, 2012
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
updated 12:33 PM EDT, Sat August 11, 2012
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
updated 9:52 AM EST, Thu January 31, 2013
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
updated 11:05 PM EDT, Sun August 12, 2012
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Sun August 12, 2012
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
updated 12:33 PM EDT, Sat August 11, 2012
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri August 10, 2012
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
updated 12:05 PM EDT, Fri August 10, 2012
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Fri August 10, 2012
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
updated 8:40 PM EDT, Thu August 9, 2012
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
updated 8:46 PM EDT, Wed August 8, 2012
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Wed August 8, 2012
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
updated 3:30 PM EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Tue August 7, 2012
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Sat August 4, 2012
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?