Ennis and Farah cap golden day for Britain

Host nation lie third in the medals table with 14 golds

Great Britain won six gold medals and a silver on Saturday, capped by triumphs for poster girl Jessica Ennis and runner Mo Farah to make it their most successful day at a Games for 104 years.

The host nation could barely believe its luck as the rowers started the gold rush in the men's four and the women's lightweight double sculls.

Then the women's team pursuiters added to the British dominance of the Velodrome with another track cycling gold, setting the scene for a remarkable night of athletics in front of 80,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium.

The photogenic Ennis has been under more pressure than anyone going into the Games, carrying the hopes of a nation and appearing on a thousand magazine covers.

The heptathlete did not disappoint, building up such a lead in the heptathlon that she did not even need to win her race in the last of her seven events, the 800m.

But as the stadium rose to its feet, Ennis unleashed a sprint finish to cross the line first and threw her arms in the air as her face broke into a look caught between pain and joy.

"I just had to give it everything at the end," Ennis, 26, said. "I just thought I'm only going to have one moment to do this in front of a home crowd like this in London."

The congratulations rolled in immediately, with Prime Minister David Cameron tweeting: "Awe inspiring win for Jessica Ennis. Proud to be cheering her on with the home crowd."

Chris Hoy, who won his fifth cycling gold on Tuesday, joined the chorus, tweeting: "That's how to do it!! Finish the job in style! Just superb J-Ennis !!!!"

Denise Lewis, who herself won heptathlon gold for Britain in 2000, said Ennis was "by far one of the most popular athletes we've seen in a very long time" - she dominated Sunday's front pages.

Almost unnoticed, Britain then grabbed a gold that few had predicted as Greg Rutherford won the long jump with a leap of 8.31m.

By the time Mo Farah stepped onto the track for the 10,000m, the stadium was in tumult.

The affable Somali-born athlete, who moved to Britain at the age of eight and has the London accent to prove it, managed his race perfectly, holding off the formidable challenge from Ethopia and Kenya to win in 27min 30.42sec.

His pregnant wife Tania and his daughter Rhianna greeted him on the track in an emotional clinch.

"I just can't believe it, the crowd got so much behind me and was getting louder and louder," Farah said.

"I've just never experienced something like this and it doesn't come round often."

The stunning string of successes erased memories of a barren first three days of the Games and put the host nation third in the medals table with 14 golds, behind the United States and China.

Britain has a total of 29 medals overall, having also taken seven silvers and eight bronzes at these Games.

The target of 19 golds won in Beijing is now firmly in the team's sights.

But before anyone got too carried away, normal service was resumed as the men's football team upheld a long-held British tradition of losing in a penalty shootout, going down 5-4 to South Korea after the match ended 1-1.

"We can Run, row, swim, jump, canoe and even grapple but we still can't kick a ball from 12 yds into a net....," lamented former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan on Twitter.

 

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