Jessica Ennis wins Olympic heptathlon gold for Great Britain

 

Jessica Ennis was crowned Olympic heptathlon champion in front of an adoring home crowd, as a new British record carried her to gold.

Analysis

"It's hard to find the words. We have witnessed greatness, we have witnessed someone who had a dream to come and deliver on the world stage. People love her, they really do, she is by far one of the most loved athletes around. I am honoured to have witnessed this."

In one of the iconic moments of the London Games, the woman long anointed as the face of the Games fulfilled her destiny with a series of brilliant personal bests that left her rivals helpless.

Ennis knew she was almost certain of the title going into Saturday evening's final event, and she delivered with two minutes 8.65secs in the 800m.

The 26-year-old's total of 6,955 points was a huge 306 points ahead of Germany's Lilli Schwarzkopf in silver and 327 clear of world champion Tatyana Chernova in bronze.

"I honestly can't believe it after all the hard work and after the disappointment in Beijing 2008," said Ennis.

Jess Ennis's heptathlon road to glory

"I am just so happy. I want to thank everyone who has supported me, they have been amazing. I am so thankful that everyone has helped me all this way. I just had to give it everything at the end. I just wanted to make sure I gave them something and brought it all home.

"I told myself at the start that I'm only going to have one moment to do this in front of a crowd in London and I just wanted to give them a good show."

Having set three personal bests in the first six events, Ennis was in relentless mood in a two-lap coronation that brought the 80,000 people present to a deafening crescendo.

She went off hard, led at the bell and was overtaken by Chernova on the back straight only to kick on and storm down the home straight to victory.

Twelve years on from Denise Lewis's heptathlon gold in Sydney, the Sheffield-born athlete somehow handled the enormous weight of expectation to produce her best ever competition when it mattered most.

Ennis had delivered in style during the morning session, producing a brilliant long jump under great pressure and a javelin personal best to lead by 188 points with just the 800m to go.

She had been in early difficulty with a first-round jump of just 5.95m, significantly down on her rival Chernova's 6.54m.

Tears of joy for gold medal winner Ennis

But with the sort of support that multi-eventers can normally only dream of, she jumped 6.40m in the second round and then 6.48m in the third.

It meant she carried a 258-point cushion into the penultimate event, better than she had in beating much of the same field in taking European gold in Barcelona two summers ago.

Ennis has worked hard on her javelin with former GB international Mick Hill, and that dedication paid off when she produced a PB of 47.49m in the third round.

She will go down in British sporting history with this result, and her smiles of disbelief and joy after crossing the line were mirrored around the heaving stands of the Olympic Stadium.