x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Olympics: Ennis spearheads 45-minute gold rush for British athletes

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, 10,000m runner Mo Farah and long jumper Greg Rutherford completed a remarkable quick-fire hat-trick of medals in front of a capacity crowd.

British athlete Jessica Ennis shows off her heptathlon gold medal.
British athlete Jessica Ennis shows off her heptathlon gold medal.

LONDON // Britain scored three gold medals in one athletics session for the first time in Olympic history last night as Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah delighted a capacity crowd of 80,000 in the space of a barely-believable 45 minutes.

After three golds in rowing and cycling on Super Saturday, the home nation's athletics stars got in on the action in sensational style as poster girl Ennis claimed a commanding victory in the heptathlon.

Rutherford then leapt to victory in the long jump, with what proved to be the 25-year-old's winning jump of 8.31 metres coming at precisely the same time as Ennis was being introduced to the crowd before her final event, the 800m.

And Farah then rounded off an astonishing evening with a blistering last lap in the 10,000m, completing it in 53 seconds to take gold ahead of American training partner Galen Rupp as Britain moved up to third in the medal table.

Ennis had a commanding lead going into the 800m but still stormed to victory to improve her national record to 6,955 points and win by an amazing 327 points from world champion Tatyana Chernova.

"I can't believe I've had the opportunity to come to my first Games in London and won an Olympic Gold medal. It's unbelievable," said the 26-year-old from Sheffield, who missed the Beijing Games after suffering a career-threatening foot injury.

"It's a massive relief because it's so hard getting through a heptathlon anyway, it 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', I just can't believe I've done it.

"I just felt really emotional after the javelin because I knew that it was so close and I just wanted to make sure that I didn't get too carried away and made sure that I finished the job off properly. The crowd supported me so much, I just wanted to give a little bit back and just leave everything on the track."

Ennis's coach Toni Minichiello praised her mental strength, adding: "Four years ago we were sat on her sofa nursing a broken foot and watching the Olympics and hoping this would be over very quickly so we can start the next four years.

"I don't know whether she embraced the moment or the crowd embraced her. I think it's probably their medal maybe slightly more than Jessica's, but she might argue differently!".

Ennis briefly broke down in tears on the track and again as the National Anthem rang out around the stadium after she had received her medal from London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked on.

If Ennis's win had been expected ever since she stormed to a British record in the 100m hurdles on Friday morning, Rutherford's came as something of a welcome surprise - even though he headed the world rankings in 2012.

Rutherford took the lead in the second round with a jump of 8.21m and was never headed, then jumping 8.31m in the fourth round to extend his lead.

Australia's Mitchell Watt (8.16m) took silver and American Will Claye (8.12m) bronze, while Rutherford's British teammate Chris Tomlinson (8.07m) had to settle for sixth.

"I don't think I'll ever get bored of hearing that," Rutherford said after being reminded he is now an Olympic champion. "That is the most amazing feeling in the world.

"What a night for British athletics. Three gold medals out of a possible three really. The crowd were absolutely incredible. I don't think it's sunk in properly. This is what I've dreamt of my entire life.

"I knew I was going to be a sportsman. When I picked athletics I knew I wanted to be an Olympic champion. And I get to do it in London ... I might wake up in a minute."

World 5,000m champion Mo Farah had thought his race would not come down to the last lap as his rivals feared his sprinting speed, but in the end that was what happened and Farah hit the front at the bell to time his finish to perfection.

The Somalia-born 29-year-old collapsed to the track before being greeted by his seven-year-old stepdaughter Rihanna and wife Tania, who is expecting twins in September.

"I've never experienced something like this, it doesn't come around that often and to have it on your doorstep with that amount of people supporting you and shouting your name ... it's never gonna get any better than this," Farah said. "This is the best moment of my life.

"It's something that I've worked so hard for. It's just the grinding and hard work and 120 miles a week, week in, week out and long distance events and what you put into it is what you get out.

"I want to thank everyone who has supported me from my childhood until now. Without all those people that wouldn't have happened and I've just got to enjoy this moment I guess."

Farah's decision to move his family to Oregon to be coached by Alberto Salazar has paid massive dividends and Salazar said: "The race plan for Mo and Galen was that we felt they could outsprint anybody in the race and we didn't care if it was a fast race or a slow race or whatever, they weren't going to try and win it until the last 400m, maybe even the last 200m.

"It was a very simple plan, but both of them were faster than they've ever been before. I will be honest, I thought we were going to get a one-two.

"I know that Mo's the best distance runner in the world and I know that Galen's just a step behind him. I was overwhelmed when they crossed the line, it's the greatest feeling I've ever had. Other than getting married and my kids birth I would say this was the best feeling I've ever had in my life."

Rupp added: "I am really fortunate that I've been able to learn from my training partner, he's been a great mentor."

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