London 2012 The Night that Made the Games
A great weekend of sport came to conclusion with a classic 100m final. It was an incident packed weekend at the Olympics. But years from now there is one moment - stretched to fit an hour - that most British fans will regard as the defining episode of these games.
Over the course of an hour at the Olympic Stadium Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah earned near simultaneous gold in an orgy of sporting success and throbbing patriotism.
Ennis went into her final event in the Heptathlon, the 800m, with a sizable lead on the competition. But such is her understanding of her place in the collective British imagination, and her willingness to fulfill the role as ‘Face of the Games’ that she wouldn’t be satisfied with merely staying with the pack. No she wasn’t going to do only what was necessary to win. Ennis gave a roiling crowd the moment it so desperately craved.
She stormed the opposition, opened up a lead that was strictly not necessary, and sprinted past the finish line. She thrust her arms in the air in celebration. It wasn’t merely gold she had achieved. Seb Coe declared Ennis the face of the games in what seems another age. The word ‘Pressure’ does not suffice to explain the focus and expectation thrust on the Ennis’ slim shoulders.
And yet she did it. Perhaps it was her placid temperament. Then again some people just know how to rise to the occasion. She wept when she collected gold.
That moment was all the British public really required for the games to earn a place in their hearts for all time. But it was only a third - the most satisfyingly poetic third - of an hour that featured sporting glory of which the British public had never seen the like.
Greg Rutherford sensed what was going on around him in the Olympic Stadium - How could he not? A cacophony of Ennis hysteria filled the stadium, and indeed the country. But he just kept jumping; kept doing his job. And when other competitors, who were expected to do better, didn’t live up to their pre-tournament billing; Rutherford seized his opportunity and launched himself to long jump gold.
As if that wasn’t enough. Then came the 10,000m with British hope Mo Farah. An event dominated by the titans of east Africa, the Kenyans and the Ethiopians; men seemingly fashioned by God to run forever and ever.
Farah, a Somali immigrant, grew up in East London. And the symbolism of this cluttered identity wasn’t lost on anyone. He was local and at the same time another symbol, like Ennis, of a new Britain. A welcoming Britain that sheltered a Somali family when they needed it.
Farah ran a tight tactical race. And when he opened it up on the last lap, stretching the field to breaking point, surging and surging forward to victory; it was a culmination of one of the most unforgettable - perhaps the most unforgettable - nights in British sport.
Every paper called it a gold rush. The Wild West never saw anything like it.
Remember you can watch all events live on your computer or mobile on BBC1. Need a UK IP? Click Here
blog comments powered by