What a night in the Olympic Stadium!
It was the first time in athletics history that Great Britain had won three golds in a single athletics session with Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah winning the golds in the heptathlon, long jump and 10,000m respectively. Jessica Ennis, the poster girl for London 2012, performed strongly on Friday resulting in a healthy lead, at the halfway stage, of the two-day event. Saturday was always going to be a test for the 26 year-old from Sheffield. However, after excelling in the long jump and javelin, she was firmly in pole position to win gold. The final event – the 800m – was held in the evening and was essentially billed as a two-lap victory parade by the pundits. Ennis though, buoyed by the thousands of Brits in the Olympic stadium, saved her best until last, storming ahead of the pack with 200m to go, finishing comfortably in first place to the elation of the capacity 80,000 crowd.
Just as she performed her victory lap with all the other heptathletes, they passed Greg Rutherford who had jumped 8.31m to lead the men’s long jump final. Rutherford’s jump was not bettered, making him the first Brit since black and white television to win an Olympic long jump gold (Lynn Davies in 1964).
With two golds in the bag, things got even better. Mo Farah commenced the 10,000m with high expectations. It wasn’t a pretty race as athletes broke-off early doors but their blistering laps were not maintained resulting in a regular change of race leader. Farah took little notice and smartly stuck to his game plan. He kept with striking distance and with five laps to go sensed the urgency to move closer to the front. With over a lap remaining, Farah took the initiative striding into the lead by the time the bell sounded for the final lap. Farah stormed ahead with the Africans in hot pursuit. Amazingly Farah’s training partner, USA’s Galen Rupp, charged through the field in the final bend, almost ‘minding’ his buddy through the finish line, fending off a challenge from the Bekele brothers. It was Britain’s third gold of the night at the Olympic stadium. “It’s never going to get any better than this. It’s the best moment of my life. It (the Olympics) doesn’t come round often and to have it right on the doorstep and the amount of people supporting you and shouting out your name” said a jubilant Farah.
Head of UK athletics, Charles van Commenee will be delighted after he initially targeted eight track and field medals with at least one being gold. With three golds already, the bar is likely to be raised. GB expects.
The euphoria in Stratford was aided by the continued success at Eton Dorney earlier on Saturday as the men’s coxless fours (Andy Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Andy Gregory and Tom James) took for the first gold of the day. This was followed by lightweight double sculls pairing, Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland. Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter then took silver in the lightweight men’s double sculls resulting in Britain becoming the most successful Olympic regatta ever with four golds, two silvers and three bronzes. In the Velodrome, Team GB won another gold in the women’s team pursuit (Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell) who incredibly set world records each time they raced.
There could be more gold medals tomorrow as Ben Ainslie aims for his fourth Olympic gold medal. Andy Murray is guaranteed at least two silver medals as he will be facing Roger Federer in the men’s singles final, plus will be playing in the mixed doubles final. The biggest event tomorrow though is for the title of ‘Fastest Man on Earth’. On Saturday, top draw Usain Bolt cruised through his heat in the 100m first round, finishing in a leisurely pace of 10.09s. USA’s Ryan Bailey unexpectedly posted the fastest time of the round with 9.88s. The eagerly anticipated men’s 100m final will be on Sunday evening at 21.50 GMT (semi-finals at 19.45 GMT).
Elsewhere, Michael Phelps’ last competitive swim (4 x 200m freestyle relay) yielded, yet again, another gold medal. The American retires at the end of these Games and currently leads the London 2012 individual medal table with four golds and two silvers. The most decorated Olympic athlete of all-time now has 18 golds, nine ahead of second placed Larisa Latynina.
Following their gold rush, Team GB are now sitting pretty in third place in the medals table. 29 medals have been won and almost half have been gold (14). Their record set at Beijing 2008, of 19 golds, is now firmly in their sights. Meanwhile, USA and China continue their close-knit battle for top spot as the USA leads, in both overall and gold medals, by one.
It should be noted that the partisan atmosphere, across all sports events, has helped Team GB immensely. In the world of team sports, the term ’12th man’ is commonly referred to and this is certainly applicable to what we have seen, and experienced, so far at London 2012. The camaraderie in the Olympic Park is simply fantastic. It is amazing how sport brings everyone together. In the words of Louis Armstrong – what a wonderful world.
Categories: Olympics 2012