London 2012: Jessica Ennis should be selfish - Cathy Freeman

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
British heptathlete Jessica Ennis
Ennis had to settle for silver at this year's World Championships in Daegu

Ex-Olympic champion Cathy Freeman says Britain's Jessica Ennis needs to be selfish in order to deal with the pressures of winning gold in London.

Australian Freeman coped with the huge weight of expectation to win the 400m at Sydney 2000, and Ennis will carry British hopes in the 2012 heptathlon.

"The spotlight will be on Jessica," Freeman, now 38, told BBC Sport.

"She has to find a place where she can't be touched. She knows what she wants and it must be on her terms."

Ennis, triple jumper Phillips Idowu and 400m hurdler Dai Greene are three athletes strongly tipped to win golds for Team GB in the track and field competition.

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee set Team GB a target of eight medals for the London Games after they managed to win seven at the World Championships this year.

Ennis had to settle for silver in Daegu but that is unlikely to lessen the focus on her once the Games begin next July.

Freeman added: "You're doing it for personal reasons. It should be celebrated and you should embrace it. There might be nerves creeping in and cracks appearing, but turn it around and use it to your advantage.

"One of my favourite quotes is from tennis legend Billie Jean King who said 'pressure is a privilege'. You have to be happy, be free and enjoy yourself."

The twice world champion was also handed the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony and remains the only athlete to have done both at the same summer Games.

Freeman managed to cope with her responsibilities in the opening ceremony and competing in the 400m for Australia, but Van Commenee has banned British athletes from attending the opening ceremony.

He believes it does not "fit in the professional preparation for the biggest event of your life".

"I was excited and humbled to have even been considered to light the torch," Freeman added.

"But I was very business-like. I was there to race and that was my priority. It was a huge, huge honour to light the cauldron but I reminded myself I was there to run, and run well."

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