London 2012 Olympics: Day Eight – Ennis, Farah, Rutherford and Golds out of the ears

The girl from the Steel city strikes Gold

It was billed as ‘Super Saturday’ by LOCOG and by God it was. Huge events both beginning and ending in the Olympic Stadium. Else where around London, Hyde Park entered the Olympic fray, the Velodrome was a continued flurry of enjoyment and success and Wimbledon fever was back!

Firstly the need is to pay homage to a great Olympian, Michael Phelps. He has entertained us, annoyed his competitors and astounded both alike with his performances in the Beijing Splashdown. In London, not everything has gone his way but he has still managed to come away with 4 Golds and 2 Silvers. Such a disappointment(!) Before the Games many remarked that, like Bolt in the 100m, he is the peak of the sport and we would never see that feat being beaten for a good number of years. Now it seems that there is a new pretender to the throne in the form of Ryan Lochte (not to mention Chad Le Clos and Camille Lacourt), so maybe his records will not stand as long as Phelps will have hoped. But no matter. Records come and records go, but what stays in the mind is the feeling. The feeling of pure joy that we experienced in 2008 will stay in the minds of all those who watched it and many will look back at the feat he accomplished and marvel at it. I will remember that moment as long as I live. Enjoy your retirement Michael Phelps.

While it was a golden day for team GB, it wasn’t for one of our athletes. Anyone who got up early to watch the triathlon on Saturday morning will have watched with great anticipation to see Helen Jenkins competing around Hyde Park in the Triathlon. She was tipped to win and to start the ‘Super Saturday’ off with a bang. But as she entered the running phase to take her across the line she couldn’t find the energy to win and fell back through the pack, finishing fifth. Her interview after was heart-breaking as she was low on energy and low on morale and on the brink of tears saying, “I gave it everything, I’m sorry it wasn’t a medal”. She could not have beaten herself up more if she tried but she needn’t have done – we still love her.

Also on the point of blubbing Olympians (and broadcasters) it was a truly beautiful moment to see Sir Steve Redgrave helping Mark Hunter back to his feet after an heroic ride in the lightweight double skulls. He and Zac Purchase had to restart when the screws hold the seats on the track snapped and a quick fix had to be accomplished. This cannot have helped their mindsets. Having given all and reaching Silver, they too felt they had let themselves and the country down. In an interview with the BBC’s John Inverdale the pair are visibly exhausted, both mentally and physically. Their pain and anguish is etched on their faces and even Inverdale finds himself welling up as he hands over to the women’s competition at the end of the broadcast. Very touching and wonderful moments from Auntie Beeb there who have been exemplary throughout the Games.

And finally before the Athletics: Murray and Robson have managed to get past the Aussies and the Germans to make the final against Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus. It will be a long day for Murray who will have already had a Wimbledon final rematch in the morning as he faces a Swiss masterclass in the form of Roger Federer.

Now. Running. It’s not something that we Brits have been very good at recently. You think of British running glory and you are reminded of Chariots of Fire, Roger Bannister, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett – trouble is these are all 80, 60 and 30 years ago respectively. In the recent history the headlines have been from the Germans, USA, Africans in the long distance and the Caribbean in the short distance. Would we be able to take on the world, on our turf and turn the home advantage into a few medals?

Well yes! First Jess Ennis was to pick up from where she left off last night – in the lead of the heptathlon and with only the long jump, the  javelin and the 800m left. Ennis stayed calm and posted two jumps of 6.4 and 6.41m to net over 1000 points. Her closest competitor? Dobrynska fouled two of three and only made 3.4m with her final so was out of contention. The javelin was also smooth sailing as Ennis set a PB of 47.49m setting her up beautifully for the 800m. A win would see her cruise to a Gold. Also worth a mention would be local girl, 26 year-old Louise Hazel who set her PB too in the javelin and the 19 year-old Katarina Johnson-Thompson who gave a huge performance and after coming second in her heat of the 800m she set a British Junior record in coming 15th overall. But eyes back to Ennis.

She lined up in the 800m in lane 4 alongside her closest competitors Skujtye, Chernova, Nana Djimou Ida. From the starter’s pistol, she flew into the lead and built up a huge lead. As they approached the back straight it seemed she had gone too quickly and that her legs were going – Schwarzkopf going ahead and Chernova going level. Third is still Gold for Ennis, no panic….but where’s the fun in that? The crowd built up the noise: louder and louder and louder into a deafening roar (especially if you were watching it with me as I turned it up and up and up). They were willing her to find more, to dig deep and to win for GB. As they came to home stretch, the finish line in sight, she dropped a gear, pulled out behind the statuesque Russian and German and flew past them. There were no scenes of bewilderment like Holmes in Athens, she knew even before she crossed the line that she was the Olympic Champion. Arms raised in joy and her face crumpling in tears of joy (and a spot of tiredness) – it was over, she had won. Heartache of Beijing in watching the Games from a physio bench was eradicated by the joy and success of London. A very PR-savvy Johnson-Thompson runs up with a bottle of water and a hug looking for the photo showing the proverbial handing of the baton to her. Bad news, she will have to wait a while: Ennis is just 26, which is, I can state, a very young age indeed.

But it wasn’t all over for GB fans. A mere 20m later and Greg Rutherford was flying to Gold in the long jump with a HUGE leap of 8.31m to shock everyone and to make anyone who had quietly slipped away to beat the traffic curses themselves thoroughly. He to held a face of sheer joy and surprise throughout. But it STILL wasn’t over. Mo Farah was still to run in the 10,000m final. A very, very late start for the event being around half-past 9 and the 29 men lined up on the curved lines looking tense and keen to use some of the noise from the crowd for themselves. More the fool them as the noise was entirely reserved for Mo. He made a steady start and the race seem very fractious with plenty of pushing a shoving at the head of the pack, one runner actually taking a tumble as another trod on his heel. Then a breakaway formed, led by the Eritrean, Tadese. This flew away from Mo and consisted of 6 or 7 men. With 6 laps to go, Farah was lying ninth and the crowd all wondered the same thing: Had the race got away from him? But cometh the hour, cometh the man and Farah (and his training partner the American, Rupp) kicked on and Farah took Gold by 0.5 of a second. If Ennis had looked pained and relieved and Rutherford and looked pleased and vindicated there was only one word for Farah’s face. Total shock and surprise.

An amazing day for Team GB and on a personal note it was a joy to experience the Olympic Games for the first and only time. While I have tickets to the Paralympic Athletics and Wheelchair Basketball, I only have one Olympic event and that is football. Mexico and Senegal. Visitors to this blog will know that I am not the biggest fan of footballers, though (somewhat ironically) I love football. I particularly love lower leagues football where the man on the pitch could well be your plumber or landlord or paperboy. People playing a game they love, for low reward and that is exactly the very thing I love about the Olympic Games. They are all amateurs. Alright, Michael Phelps is a very well paid amateur but an amateur none the less. I thoroughly enjoyed my match at the football but I am very glad that Tema GB’s men are out and now we can turn our backs on them and celebrate the Games properly. Without bloody football.

Check out the current medal table below. If you want to get involved then feel free to leave a comment or to find me on Facebook (TheOnlyMoxey) or Twitter (@theonlymoxey).

Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 26 13 15 54
China 25 16 13 54
Great Britain 14 7 8 29
Russia 3 15 10 28
Japan 2 10 12 24
France 8 6 8 22
Germany 5 10 6 21
Australia 1 12 7 20
South Korea 9 3 6 18
Italy 5 5 3 13
Canada 1 3 6 10
Netherlands 3 1 4 8
New Zealand 3 0 4 7
Romania 1 4 2 7
Ukraine 2 0 4 6
Belarus 1 2 3 6
Brazil 1 1 4 6
Kazakhstan 5 0 0 5
North Korea 4 0 1 5
Cuba 2 2 1 5
Hungary 2 1 2 5
Denmark 1 2 2 5
South Africa 3 1 0 4
Poland 2 1 1 4
Czech Republic 1 2 1 4
Mexico 0 3 1 4
Slovakia 0 1 3 4
Slovenia 1 0 2 3
Sweden 0 3 0 3
Colombia 0 2 1 3
Spain 0 2 1 3
India 0 1 2 3
Jamaica 1 0 1 2
Ethiopia 1 0 1 2
Croatia 1 1 0 2
Indonesia 0 1 1 2
Belgium 0 1 1 2
Norway 0 1 1 2
Mongolia 0 1 1 2
Serbia 0 1 1 2
Norway 0 1 1 2
Kenya 0 1 1 2
Greece 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Venezuela 1 0 0 1
Georgia 1 0 0 1
Lithuania 1 0 0 1
Switzerland 1 0 0 1
Egypt 0 1 0 1
Chinese Taipei 0 1 0 1
Thailand 0 1 0 1
Guatemala 0 1 0 1
Uzbekistan 0 0 1 1
Azerbaijan 0 0 1 1
Singapore 0 0 1 1
Iran 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
Tunisia 0 0 1 1
Qatar 0 0 1 1

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