"Fat Lady" Sets UK Hep record, by Pat Butcher, note by Larry Eder

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There are few things that infuriate me more than that hearing a women athlete has been told that she is fat, or needs to loose weight. Truth is this, with proper nutrition, eight to ten hours of sleep, and a good workout schedule, your body will get to the weight that it is supposed to be. 

Two to three hours of exercise a day will put your body in a place where you are probably more worried about maintaining weight than loosing.I coached sixteen years, at high school, community college, university and club, six years with young women, and I would never have considered such a statement. 

The key for a coach is to provide the tools for the athlete to grow, not just during the two plus hours a day you work with them. You want to show them how to make healthy decisions. Whole grains, fresh fruit, veggies, water, fresh fish, lean meat, legumes. Much of the time, it is what athletes eat-junk, soda-that can affect workouts, and racing. A healthy diet, strong workouts, take care of most issues.

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Jessica Ennis, photo by PhotoRun.net  

So, when I heard that Jessica Ennis was told that she may be "too fat" for her event, by an official, I was, well, shocked, but not surprised. Pat Butcher, the author of the following article, goes a bit further. 

The title of this article is ironic, and is the title given by the writer, Pat Butcher. Pat is writing about heptathlon star Jessica Ennis, who, after two consecutive seconds in major competitions, not only defeated both of the women who claimed victories over her, but she broke the 6900 point level in the women's heptathlon. Ennis is now number 8 on the All time list. Whose in front of her? Oh, Carolina Kluft, Jackie Joyner-Kersee are a couple of the names on that list of seven people in front of her. 

Pat Butcher has observed our sport, and run in the sport, since the invention of the modern running shoe. He possesses a wonderful command of the English language with a wee bit of cynicism, and a huge sense of humor. 

The story of Jessica Ennis' success, on the eve of the most challenging competition of her young life, is complicated. With lots of family support, a great coach, a supportive fiance, Jessica Ennis is focused on 2012. That she is also the poster girl for many of the global companies hoping to gain positive brand thoughts from her success in London is obvious for anyone who looks at global sports marketing. 

I have been lucky enough to observe Jessie in several competitions, when she has won gold, and when she has taken silver, and endured much second guessing. I must say that I have never seen an athlete show such class as Ms. Ennis during her silver medal performance in Daegu last summer. 

After the British record, smiles were seen on the faces of Jessie Ennis and her coach, Toni Minichello.

 A good weekend, now back to the track in Sheffield, for some running, jumping and throwing. It is less than two months to London.  

This column and many other thoughtful, controversial, provocative columns can be found at GlobeRunner.org, all from the pen of one Mr. Pat Butcher. 


It's not over 'til the fat lady...... runs the 800 metres.

In 2.09.00, as it happens.

And that was easily sufficient to cap victory for Jessica Ennis in the celebrated heptathlon in Götzis, Austria on Sunday, beating her rival, world champion Tatyana Chernova by 132 points; and breaking Sydney Olympic champion Denise Lewis' national record. For good measure, the reigning Olympic champion, Natalya Dobrijnska was relegated to ninth place

Two months out from the Olympic Games in east London, that ain't a bad place to be; which is more than can be said for the clown at the British federation who observed recently (according to her coach Tony Minichiello) that Ennis was overweight; a slur corroborated by the British number 2, Louise Hazel, who has received the same 'advice' to lose weight, a comment bound to cause seizures in the TV producer in Daegu, who decided he was making an 'up close and personal' documentary on Hazel each time she emerged from under a parasol during the World Champs.

But enough of this frivolity. For a start, this particular federation clown - it's got to be a 'he' hasn't it; there are times, all too frequently, when you're not proud of your own gender? - and I've got a pretty shrewd idea who it is, would be hard pressed to name the events in the heptathlon, in order or not.

That incidentally was something that Daley Thompson would ask re the decathlon of journalists who requested an interview. Of course, he refused even on those rare occasions they got it right.

On one such occasion, several centuries ago, your correspondent, emboldened by Steve Ovett's magnificent putdown of him, that the decathlon is nothing more than, 'nine Mickey Mouse events, followed by a slow 1500 metres,' I once challenged Thompson, either to a straight 1500 metres, or I'd give him a 25 metres start over a Mile. He called my bluff in Paris a couple of years later, following an indoor heptathlon for him, and a liquid lunch for me, to immediately take to the track over 800 metres. I demurred, just as he had done.

My offer still stands, incidentally, since although I'm still 15 years older, I used to run more than 30 seconds faster over 1500 metres. Also his kids think he's fat; which is where we came in.

Nonetheless, it is hard to get excited about the multi-events, and I doubtless echo runners the world over in this. I have long felt that the IAAF should follow the example of the Modern Pentathlon federation, and set up the final events, 800 metres for women, 1500 metres for men, as handicaps; which is to say, as with the Modern Pentathlon final event, the cross country, the heptathlon/decathlon leaders after 6/9 events set off ahead by the amount of time commensurate with their points lead. That way, the first one across the line is the overall winner; and you don't have to wait for the ridiculous computation of points to tell you - as with Thompson in Los Angeles 1984 - that the person in seventh place has actually won the gold medal.

The most endearing thing about the multi-events is that the athletes actually seem to like one another, the camaraderie of two long days of close competition engendering a respect which is not noted elsewhere in track and field athletics, if not cross country (remember that?).

And Ennis seems a particularly human example of the elite athlete. Both she and coach Minichello are firmly grounded in the down-to-earth culture of their steel city home of Sheffield. You can't get more down home than Minichiello, quoted in Saturday's Guardian newspaper, "We don't do training camps. We don't need to. I've got a 200m indoor track, with a 400m track a stone's throw away, and a great weights room... so we stay close to home and find competitions that are close to home'.

For a long-term cynic like myself, one unintended sub-text of that quote is that they don't need to go abroad to escape the dope-testers; which is always gratifying to know.

There is always a lot of nonsense dredged up in the run-up to a major championship, the more so when the Olympic Games is on your door-step. So expect a lot more of the fat-girl type of stories, not necessarily about Ennis (and Hazel), there are lots more targets out there. And, who knows, there might even be a few serious stories?

But the best of the weekend news is that Ennis has taken a serious option on her young life and career's objective - an Olympic gold medal.

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