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Golden night for Team GB; Fraser-Pryce retains women's 100m title

posted 4 Aug 2012, 16:52 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 4 Aug 2012, 16:54 ]

The host nation celebrates an historic triple-gold night in athletics, and a former British Olympic track and field hero is among those cheering them on. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce retains the Olympic women's 100 metres title, as fans look forward to Sunday's sprint showdown between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

Britain enjoyed its greatest day of athletics on Saturday (August 4) as Mo Farah in the 10,000 metres, Greg Rutherford in the long jump and heptathlete Jessica Ennis delivered an extraordinary hat-trick of Olympic gold medals on a truly unforgettable night.
It was the first time Britain had won three athletics golds in one day and the occasion will live long in the memories of the 80,000 fans who played their own part in creating an atmosphere of spine-tingling intensity and astonishing noise.

Former Olympic star Mary Rand, the first British woman to win a track and field gold medal in Tokyo in 1964, was in no doubt of the significance of the achievement.

"Well, it's unbelievable, I can't believe they won four gold medals tonight and I'm so thrilled that I was here to witness it. I thought they all did fantastic," said Rand, who won a gold in the long jump.

"When I won in Tokyo in 1964 we won four gold medals, and that was one of the highest scores of medals we'd ever had, so for them to win four tonight, just on one night, who knows what else is going to happen?"

Farah's perfectly executed 10,000 metres run earned the hugely popular Somalia-born 29-year-old Britain's first Olympic distance gold.

A steadily-run race was exactly what he wanted, though everyone in the stadium was wary of the threat from Kenenisa Bekele, bidding for an unprecedented third 10,000m title.

Farah was in complete control, however, and stamped his authority on the race at the bell as a remarkable rolling wall of noise brought him home in a time of 27 minutes 30.42 seconds.

"I had the feeling he might step it up. He did, and the atmosphere in there was electric," said proud Londoner Leon, on leaving the stadium. "I've almost lost my voice shouting; 'Come on Mo!'"

The women's 100 metres might not have been able to compete with the home hat-trick for noise but it did deliver a great race with six women clocking under 11 seconds for the first time in the Olympic final.

Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce retained her Olympic title in 10.75 seconds, the second-fastest Olympic winning time after Florence Griffith-Joyner's 10.54 in 1988.

"I was confident; she won her national trials, and I was confident she was going to win, and I saw what she did in the semi-finals, and I knew," said Wilmot, one of Fraser-Pryce's Jamaican supporters in the stadium.

The Jamaican, who served a six-month doping ban in 2010, also became the third woman to retain the title after Americans Gail Devers in 1996 and Wyomia Tyus in 1968.

American world champion Carmelita Jeter took silver in 10.78 and Veronica Campbell-Brown claimed bronze in 10.81 as Jamaica took the early lead in what is expected to another great sprint battle with the United States.

That will reach crescendo point on Sunday in the men's 100m final with both nations packed with sub-10 second talent.

Earlier on Saturday Usain Bolt made his long-awaited bow, easing through to semi-finals with minimum fuss. Jamaican fans who had been cheering on Fraser-Pryce said they were confident they would be returning to see another Jamaican victory on Sunday.

That confidence was matched only by the pride of the home team's fans as they left the Olympic stadium.

"I knew it was going to be good because we did really well at Beijing, but I didn't think we were going to do that well. To be third on the medals table, it's just unbelievable, and to think we're just a tiny country as well - just really proud," said Virginia, from Greenwich in London.

She added that her neighbourhood, host to the equestrian events, had been extensively disrupted by the Olympics Games - but that it had clearly all been worth it.