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Ennis-Hill takes controversial Fury's public Belfast apology in her stride

By Steven Beacom

Published 22/12/2015

Power of three: Jessica Ennis-Hill walks to collect her third place trophy at the BBC SPOTY awards in Belfast
Power of three: Jessica Ennis-Hill walks to collect her third place trophy at the BBC SPOTY awards in Belfast

World and Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill has accepted Tyson Fury's apology over his controversial remarks, one of which was directed at her.

Weeks before both attended Sunday's BBC Sports Personality of the Year show in Belfast, commenting on Ennis-Hill, World champion boxer Fury said: "She's good, she's won quite a few medals. She slaps up good as well. When she's got a dress on she looks quite fit."

Fury was criticised for those comments as well as his other views on women and homosexuality.

During the SPOTY show, in an interview with co-host Gary Lineker, Fury said sorry, stating: "If I've said anything in the past that's hurt anybody, I apologise. That wasn't my intention."

Ennis-Hill and Fury didn't come into contact with each other at the SSE Arena, though they were close in the voting with the Sheffield woman finishing in third place for the big prize behind winner Andy Murray. She polled 79,898 votes with the Manchester boxer in fourth, earning 72,330 votes.

Ennis-Hill won her second World heptathlon title this year, just 13 months after giving birth to her first child, while Fury shocked sport by beating Wladimir Klitschko on points in Germany to become heavyweight champion of the world.

Revealing that Fury's pre-SPOTY comments had not spoiled Sunday's event for her, when asked if she accepted the fighter's apology, Ennis-Hill said: "Yes, I think it was good of him to get up and apologise but the show is not about one individual, it is about celebrating everyone."

On the furore that Fury's words created and how she had been drawn into it, Ennis-Hill added: "I think there is always something like this and noise around you at certain events."

After Fury's statements, there has been much debate about sports stars being role models for youngsters.

No one could argue that the popular Ennis-Hill has not inspired future generations with her heroics on the track and in the field at big athletics championships.

She said: "I genuinely think we have great sportspeople and great role models. The London Olympics in 2012 was all about inspiring the next generation and that's what I am trying to do and what other great British sportspeople are trying to do."

Many had backed Ennis-Hill to win at the weekend, but in the end she was well behind Davis Cup hero Murray and second placed Kevin Sinfield, the former Leeds Rhinos star, who grabbed 278,353 votes, mostly from rugby league fans.

Even so, the Sheffield star still enjoyed her night in Belfast.

"It was brilliant. I missed last year's event so it was nice to be back in this environment and hearing about everyone's achievements and what a great year it has been in British sport," she said.

"I was very happy to finish in the top three.

"Watching all the individual performances of every nominee gave me goosebumps. You are inspired by what they've achieved.

"I think I first came to the Sports Personality show in 2006 and that feeling of watching other people who are incredibly talented and at the top of their game at whatever sport does inspire you and makes you want to be the best you can be.

"It is incredible what the Davis Cup team and Andy Murray did."

Next year in Rio the 29-year-old will have the chance to retain her Olympic title won in London 2012 on 'Super Saturday' when long jumper Greg Rutherford and long distance runner Mo Farah also claimed gold.

She is relishing the opportunity, insisting that winning the World Championships in 2015 will give her great confidence ahead of the trip to Brazil next year.

"For me this year was right up there with 2012 on a personal level," said Ennis-Hill.

"I am immensely proud of what I achieved this year. I think only my husband Andy knows how hard it has been. There have been days when I have literally been like 'no, I can't do this... why am I doing this?' and finding that mental strength and having that support to come back.

"This year has given me loads of confidence. I feel slightly less pressure for next year at the Olympics because I came back so strong."

The Yorkshire lady was the poster girl for London 2012, but is content to hand that mantle over in Rio.

"I don't think I'll be the poster girl for 2016. It is time for someone else to take that," she said. "I'm very much going to have a different journey to Rio but hopefully with the same outcome."

Belfast Telegraph

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