We sobbed as cyclist Victoria Pendleton did a goodbye lap around the Velodrome with John Lennon's Imagine booming out. We've been amazed by the courage of Laura Trott, the cyclist who hasn't let the fact she has an acid reflux reaction in her stomach put her off winning gold. And we've lusted after Jessica Ennis's lithe body. Yep, we've discovered a whole new host of real heroes during the Olympics. Heroes who've suddenly made striving for excellence cool. In the new issue of Grazia (out now!), we talk to our amazing Brit girls about their favourite moments, with Jessica Ennis - who won gold in the heptathlon - revealing her excitement at meeting royalty, watching Gossip Girl to relax and the shopping spree she's looking forward to. Below we bring you the full interview...
Grazia Daily: What was your highlight from the Olympics?
Jessica Ennis: Can I have a few?! Definitely the first time I set foot in the stadium before the hurdles because that was the first time I'd seen the crowd and felt the raw atmosphere. It felt brilliant. It didn't feel overwhelming and I didn't feel nervous. I just felt really excited and ready to run. That was one of the best feelings.
Also crossing the line after the 800 and knowing that I'd won was incredible. I felt such a relief that I'd finished the two days and had managed to achieve what I wanted to after all the training I'd put into getting to that point. I also felt relieved that I hadn't messed any of the events up and hadn't fallen over in the 800. It was a mix of emotions - excitement and disbelief that I'd actually done it.
Grazia Daily: Who was the first person you spoke to after winning?
Jessica Ennis: I saw my coach in the crowd and my soft tissue therapist Derry handed me a big flag that he'd had made. It was a complete surprise. I said 'where's this come from?' and he said 'I had it made ages ago' and I said 'you were pretty confident! How did you know I'd win?' And he said 'well, if you didn't, I would have just hidden it and you wouldn't have known about it.' It was really sweet that he had that much faith in me.
Grazia Daily: How did you celebrate?
Jessica Ennis: After I got my medal, I saw my family - my mum, dad, sister, fiancée and grandparents - everyone was there! They were all really happy and proud and excited and wanted to see the medal. Everyone was buzzing. It was such a high. We had a few glasses of champagne and caught up with each other because I hadn't seen them for ages. When I get back to Sheffield, I think I’ll have a big party with all my friends and family.
Grazia Daily: And what's the medal really like?
Jessica Ennis: The medal is quite big and obviously very heavy but it’s the nicest medal ever. At the moment I’ve been carrying it round with me everywhere and it stays close to me –it even stays by my bed when I’m sleeping. I’m going to have to keep it in a safe place and keep an eye on it.
Grazia Daily: What was it like inside the Olympic Village?
Jessica Ennis: The Olympic Village was brilliant. We were in our holding camp in Portugal before and it was quite quiet – it was just the athletics group. But when we got to the Olympic Village, it was so overwhelming. There were just so many people. The dining room was huge - there were so many food stations. The rooms were lovely and everything was so organised. It was a really weird feeling because this was my first Olympics; I’d never experienced sport on that level before.
Grazia Daily: Was the atmosphere tense?
Jessica Ennis: There were lots of different events going on and we were doing so well, winning lots of medals. The buzz in the dining hall was crazy. We watched on big screens and every time someone did well, there were huge cheers. But there was a nervous energy too, as some people waited to compete and others had finished. It was a real mix but a really good atmosphere. We were all supporting each other. All the Team GB athletes were in one block together and we were proud of what everyone was achieving - you feel you’re part of a really great team.
Grazia Daily: How did you relax?
Jessica Ennis: I just watched box sets! You don’t want to do too much before you compete. It’s about making sure you’re rested and relaxed as possible. I watched House and Gossip Girl. I’m on season three so I’ve got loads to watch. I really like Blair – she’s my favourite character. I’ve warmed to her as the seasons have progressed and I love all the clothes she wears.
Grazia Daily: You're the face of Olay. How did you use the products during the Olympics?
Jessica Ennis: Being out in Portugal where it was 30 degrees, it was great to have the daily moisturisers that Olay do, because they have SPF 30 so you’re protected and moisturised. For me, I have a simple beauty regime where I can wash and cleanse and Olay do the wipes which are great when you’re travelling around. It’s been great to work with them and their products.
Grazia Daily: Talking of beauty, were you temped to give patriotic nails a try?
Jessica Ennis: I don’t really get my nails done for competitions - I’m quite superstitious so I thought, ‘let me stick to what I know’. But now, I can enjoy having nice nails and a little bit of gold!
Grazia Daily: Did you meet Princes William and Harry? And Kate Middleton?
Jessica Ennis: We were really fortunate because we met them the day we moved in to the Olympic Village. We literally had just got off the flight and they were there. We met Catherine, William and Harry and we got to have a brief chat with them. They were lovely – really down-to-earth, approachable and easy to talk to. It was a really nice experience. I had a little joke with Harry. He was like, ‘so there’s not a lot of pressure on you then?’ and I said, ‘yeah, I can relax, it’s just about enjoying myself!’ Will said ‘Hi Jess, how are you?’ I couldn’t believe he knew my name! It was really great of them to come to the village and give their time to meet us. They’ve been so involved and I think they were in the stadium on the Saturday when I competed. They look like they’re really enjoying the games. They’re a gorgeous couple. It was nice to see them relaxed.
Grazia Daily: There was a lot of talk about sexism in sport. Have you experienced anything like that?
Jessica Ennis: To be honest I haven’t read too much about that. Obviously I’ve had a few comments but it’s not always with the female athletes, the male athletes get it too and it goes across all sports and genders. It’s not something I worry too much about.
Grazia Daily: What do you hope will be the legacy of the Games?
Jessica Ennis: I hope it generally gets more people into sport, but I think British women have been doing brilliantly so hopefully that will inspire more girls to get involved. When you’re at school and you get to 13/14, it’s not particularly cool to do sport and a lot of girls don’t really want to do it, but hopefully we’ve created some more role models to inspire the next generation. It’s been a great Games so far and we’ve got a great motto, so hopefully it will carry on for a few years.
Grazia Daily: What's next for you in terms of sporting goals?
Jessica Ennis: I’m going to take a nice break and relax. But obviously it’s the World Championships next year so that’s going to be my main focus for my short term goal.
Grazia Daily: Will you be treating yourself now that you're a medal winner?
Jessica Ennis: I’m definitely going to treat myself to something nice. I’m looking forward to going shopping and splashing out on a nice bag or nice shoes, or some clothes… a bit of everything really! I like high street shops like French Connection and Reiss, but I love going to Selfridges – I could spend a whole day there! I love Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and I love Victoria Beckham dresses. There are just so many gorgeous things out there at the moment and I’m looking forward to having a good look and treating myself.
Jessica Ennis is the face of Olay Essentials - Olay Essentials Wet Cleansing Wipes, Olay Essentials Complete Care SPF30 Day Lotion and Olay Essentials Smoothing Face Scrub