JESSICA Ennis fulfilled her
Olympic destiny last night – taking gold in the heptathlon in a stadium that was a boiling cauldron of emotion for an amazing run of Team GB successes.
For the past four years, Ennis, 26, has been proclaimed to be the poster girl of the 2012 London Games, and the weight of expectation could have been an intolerable burden to bear.
But she swept to a stunning victory, earning her a place among the sporting elite, guaranteeing her a fortune and capping the British Olympic team’s biggest glory day for more than a century. Moments after Ennis’s triumph, long jumper Greg Rutherford captured unexpected gold in his event, while Mo Farah stormed to Team GB’s sixth gold of a stunning day in the 10,000 metres. When Ennis’s moment of sheer joy came, the 80,000-strong audience were ecstatic and she sat on the track and wept.
She then broke into a huge smile, acknowledged the adoring crowd and wrapped herself in a huge Union Flag. The Olympic champion was congratulated by fellow British heptathletes Louise Hazel and Katarina Johnson-Thompson before leading them and other athletes on a victory lap to huge cheers.
Ennis jumped up and down in excitement as thousands of fans jostled to capture the moment on camera.
Breaking off for a trackside interview, she said: “I can’t believe I’ve had the opportunity to come to my first Games in London and win an Olympic Gold medal. It’s a massive relief because it’s so hard getting through a heptathlon anyway, it is just such a tough event. But to have come into this event with all that pressure, and everyone just saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to win gold, you’re going to win gold’ – and I know how hard it has been to win it – yeah, I just can’t believe I’ve done it.”
Ennis had to sit out the 2008 Olympics due to injury, a blow which was difficult to accept at the time. “After Beijing, everyone said we were going for another four years to finish what we started,” she said.
“I just had to give it everything at the end. I just wanted to make sure I gave them such a show, brought it home and left everything on the track.”
The Sheffield athlete’s gold came on a sensational Super Saturday for Team GB. Gold medals were also won in the rowing and cycling arenas before Rutherford leapt to victory – the first long-jump gold for Britain in half a century – and Farah then won the sixth British gold medal of a record-breaking day. Farah, after hugging his family, said: “This sort of thing doesn’t come along often and it’s the best day of my life. The noise from the crowd was brilliant and I just had the greatest support.”
Yesterday’s wins propelled the British team into third position in the medal table with 28 medals: 13 gold, seven silver and eight bronze.
Mike Corden, chairman and senior coach of the City of Sheffield athletics club, which Ennis has competed for since she was a child, said: “It means so much to everybody at this club because everyone likes her so much. It sounds a simple thing to say, but she’s not someone who’s just attached to the club, she’s still a key part of it.”
He added: “It was just such an exhilarating performance. On her current form, she didn’t do anything wrong at all. It’s incredible how she changes from this lovely, chatty, relaxed person to a world-beater when she steps on to a track.”
Her gold medal glory was described as “the moment of the Games” by her fellow athletes.
Former Team GB heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis said: “It’s hard to find words. She’s someone who had a dream and delivered on the biggest stage possible. The crowds have lifted her – it’s been remarkable.”
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Awe inspiring win for Jessica Ennis. Proud to be cheering her on with the home crowd. Atmosphere electric on #SuperSaturday”.
Scots cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, who won gold last week, said: “That’s how to do it!! Finish the job in style! Just superb @J_Ennis !!!!
And diver Tom Daley also took to the microblogging site to say: “Absolutely amazing Jess!!! Congratulations! Moment of the games right there!!!”
Nick Clegg, the deputy PM and MP for Sheffield Hallam, said: “As a Sheffield MP, seeing local girl Jess win gold has been the highlight of the Olympics so far. Her truly inspirational victory has done our country and Sheffield proud.”
And sports presenter Gabby Logan tweeted: “That was just brilliant. She has taken all the pressure, the expectation and delivered. A truly Great Briton. Jess Ennis you are a Goddess.”
Tonight Rutherford was still finding it hard to believe he had achieved his life’s ambition. “I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of hearing that,” he said, when reminded he is now an Olympic champion. That is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Giving a highly emotional interview, Rutherford, from Milton Keynes, said: “I can’t tell you how much everyone has worked so hard for me, as well as myself. It’s been a
long process. I thought I was going to jump further than that but I don’t care – I’m Olympic champion. I don’t think it’s sunk in properly. This is what I’ve dreamt of my entire life.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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