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Raising an Olympian: Jessica Ennis

By Kim Hookem-Smith | Yahoo Lifestyle

Jessica Ennis may be a double world champion heptathlete at the peak of her career and ready to show the world what she's got at the 2012 London Games, but athletics might never have happened for Team Great Britain's golden girl. Despite displaying a talent that most can only dream of, Ennis found her sport only by chance. And in her quest to be the best at her game, she taught her mom a lesson in determination.

"We took Jess and her sister Carmel to an athletics summer camp for kids, which we joke about now as being cheap child care," says Ennis' mom, Alison Powell. Neither she nor Ennis' dad were particularly athletic, so her aptitude for the activities came as something of a surprise. "Jess wanted to do everything, Jess wanted to win everything and Carmel wanted to sit in the background and chat with her friends."

Photos: Britain's golden girl Jessica Ennis

Ennis, 26, might have been driven to win from that first summer, but her mom was understandably cautious. No pushy mother here: Powell was more concerned with not getting her daughter's hopes up instead of pressuring her to train. It wasn't for some time that the compliments about her daughter's natural athletic ability started to hit home, and Powell realized where the future was heading.

"I was a bit cautious at first because I didn't have anything to compare it with," says Powell. But it soon became clear that Ennis' main focus has always been that she wants to be the best in the world. "She's so positive. If she wants something she'll go out and get it and that's taught me a lot, because I'm not always like that."

Ennis has made headlines in recent weeks. She was denied a personal best for the 100m hurdles at the Great CityGames in Manchester after the organizers set out the wrong number of hurdles. Rumors then surfaced that a senior figure at UK Athletics had branded Ennis "fat." She laughed off the suggestion, telling ITV1's Daybreak: "I think it's something that's been blown out of proportion a bit, I'm obviously very happy with my weight. As an athlete you want to be in great shape, you want to perform as well as you can, and that's something that I've been doing, so I think I'm quite happy."

True to her words, Ennis remained focused as she went on to break the British heptathlon record on May 27, showing she is in great form and will be going for a home gold in August.

The Raising an Olympian video series, sponsored by Procter & Gamble, profiles athletes, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Check out Team Mom on Yahoo! Shine all summer for the full video series.

Also on Shine:
Raising an Olympian: Diana Lopez
Raising an Olympian: Kortney Clemons
Raising an Olympian: Ryan Lochte
Raising an Olympian: Kerri Walsh-Jennings
Raising an Olympian: Shawn Johnson

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