I beat Kelly Brook in a best body poll but I think I look butch
Jess success ... Ennis shows off the body that beat Kelly Brook in a pollJonathan Glynn-Smith / Chilli Media
WHEN Jessica Ennis stands in front of a mirror or looks at photos of herself, she doesn’t see what the rest of us see.
She may have just topped a “best celebrity body” poll, beating the likes of Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian — but that hasn’t stopped her thinking she looks a bit manly.
In an interview with The Sun the Olympic champ says: “I think I look quite butch, to be honest.
“I know my body has to be this way to do my sport the best I can, but I’ve got way more muscles than I’d ideally like to have. I don’t think I look good and it amazes me when girls write to me and say, ‘Ooh, I wish I had a six-pack like yours’, or ‘You’ve got an amazing figure’. Really? Do they think that?”
Jessica, 26, has a reputation for being one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people in sport, and she is refreshingly self-deprecating, but can she really believe that?
“Yes I do, and I’m just so amazingly shocked when people say I have the best celebrity body. I just don’t get it. I mean, I’m pleased — really flattered — because it says good things about women’s bodies, and we can be strong and fit and sporty and still look good. I do like that side of it, but it’s kind of odd.”
When she won heptathlon Olympic gold in spectacular style on that balmy August Saturday she secured her status as the nation’s sweetheart.
Love letters and marriage proposals poured in to Jessica, who is engaged to construction site manager Andy Hill.
She says: “I’ve had lovely notes, poems and photographs and, yes, proposals. It was all quite weird at first. It’s nice, and Andy thinks it’s pretty cool, but it is weird.
“I’m just this dead normal girl from Sheffield and I’m getting poems written for me by people I’ve never met, people naming their babies after me and this whole sex symbol thing.
“There are YouTube videos of my bum in slow motion. How strange is that? Me and Andy watch them and have a giggle but it’s quite freaky really and very odd.”
After the games there was a rush of offers and flattering invitations for Jessica. She recalls: “A mad time. I was given the freedom of Sheffield and a football stand was named after me, then Robbie Williams wanted me to be in a music video.
“Last week I went out to Abu Dhabi to watch the Formula 1 racing and got to sit in the car, which was brilliant. And I had a photoshoot in LA with David Beckham. That was fun.”
Jessica — who has also just been named Sunday Times Sportswoman Of The Year — says she owes a lot to her coach Toni Minichiello, and their closeness is clear in her new autobiography, Unbelievable.
They squabble and fight and have frequent disagreements but she trusts his judgment and believes in him.
She says: “I wouldn’t have made it without him. We both know my victory is a victory for us.”
Toni is one of a trio of men who have helped Jessica to success. The first was her dad Vinnie, a painter and decorator.
Her mum Alison’s job as a residential rehab counsellor took her out of the house a lot, so Vinnie was at home with Jessica and her sister Carmel. Jessica says: “He was there for me every day. He brought us up. He was amazing.”
The third man to have a huge impact on her life is fiancé Andy, who she plans to marry next year. She met him at 19.
She says: “We’ve been on the whole journey together because we’ve been with each other since 2004. He’s been amazing. You have to be selfish and focused as an athlete. You have to go away a lot and train all the time, and eat and sleep when you want.
“You need a strong person beside you, and Andy’s been just that. I can’t thank him enough for the support he’s given me. Hopefully I’ll be able to repay him one day. I know that I’m really looking forward to marrying him. Of course, it’s me doing all the planning for the wedding. He’s a typical man.”
Jessica’s hectic life leaves little time for socialising. She says: “I still go out occasionally but I can’t do it much. I realised that when I was much younger. A few times I went out and drank too much and struggled with training afterwards.
“I remember coming back in and being sick when I was a teenager. I thought, ‘You can’t do this if you want to be serious about your sport’. There can be no hangovers, you need to train properly. I had to decide to take my sport seriously, get down the gym and stop going out with friends. It’s been hard, definitely, but it’s been worth it.”
Jessica is now back in serious fitness training to make sure she is ready for her next athletics challenge — the World Championships in August next year. But she knows nothing will ever come close to the feeling of London 2012.
She says: “I can’t describe how thrilled I was to win but in some ways it’s a bit sad to think that I’ll never have a year as big as the one that I’ve just had, but I know that’s true.
“I’m only 26, but I know that nothing will be as big as the London Games. It was incredible, enormous, just brilliant. Even if I compete in Rio and win everything else from now on, nothing will ever beat it. 2012 will always be the greatest year.”