A TEEN athlete has been given a personal message from her Olympic gold medallist hero.

Maltings Academy student and Olympic hopeful Jess Hopkins, 14, received a message from her idol Jessica Ennis-Hill after the English Schools’ Athletic Association National Championships.

The talented youngster helped the Essex team win the championships last week and came sixth out of 15 athletes in the junior girls' shot put.

Miss Hopkins, who trains at school and with Chelmsford Athletics Club, said: "Ever since London 2012, Jessica Ennis-Hill has been my idol.

"People say I’m going to be the next Jessica Ennis-Hill and I hope that’s the case. I want to be like her so much.

"If I ever got to meet her, I don’t know what I would do - the fact I’ve got a postcard from her has made me so happy. I can’t believe it, it’s amazing."

The message from the gold medallist – named in Team GB for Rio 2016 – was written on a postcard and posted to her home address.

It read: “Congratulations. Good luck for the future x”

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Miss Hopkins described the whole weekend as "astonishing" and now has her hopes set on the Olympics.

She said: "All of us athletes gathered together and took part in a parade on the track and listened to a speech about the future and never giving up which was really inspirational.

"It taught me that preparation the night before is key. Next time, I will go to bed earlier and better prepare myself for the day ahead.

"It was just like a mini Olympics. Now I’ve had a taste of it, I want it all."

Proud teachers first noticed Miss Hopkins' sporting talent when she joined the school at just 11-years-old, although she originally chose basketball as her sport where she played at district, county and east levels.

Pe teacher Carrie Hicks said: "As Jess developed in school, she became more enthusiastic about athletics and it was clear that was where her potential was.

"With the connections we have at Chelmsford Athletics Club, we arranged a trial and Jess was given a place. She has never looked back, going from strength to strength.

"We are very proud of her achievements and look forward to her representing her country one day."

Miss Hopkins will also represent Essex in a team of four at the National Combined Events Championships in Exeter in September, where she will compete in the pentathlon as one of 270 athletes from around the country.