After a sluggish start to their home Olympics Great Britain’s medal-winning campaign has hit warp speed on Day eight in London.
Four years ago in Beijing Team GB ended the Games in fourth with 19 gold medals, 13 silver and 15 bronze – their best placing since topping the table at London Games of 1908.
Now the Olympics ‘have come home’ according to IOC chief Jacques Rogge in his opening ceremony speech expectations of another fine medal showing are high.
If day eight is anything to go by those expectations could very well be met.
It turned out to be a British gold rush on ‘super Saturday’ with victories coming from the track and field, Eton Dorny and the British rowing team and the velodrome.
Team GB’s poster girl Jessica Ennis thrilled the packed out Olympic stadium when she claimed gold in the women’s Heptathlon event.
Ennis, who has been the face of the Games, was leading heading into the final 800 metres event meaning she could afford to lose 13.5 seconds on second placed Austra Skujyte of Lithuania.
But with 80 thousand supporters cheering her on Ennis finished like a true champion and overtook the pack in the final 100 metres to win the race and the Heptathlon title.
Ennis eventually ended the competition with 6955 points for the seven disciplines that make up the event – a British and commonwealth record – over 300 points clear of second placed Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany.
Ennis’ gold was one of three from the track and field. It was the first time Great Britain has won three titles in one athletics session.
In a memorable evening for the hosts Mo Farah became the first British athlete to win Olympic gold in the men’s 10 000 metres.
Farah, one of the pre-race favourites, waited for the final lap to make his move and there was no looking back from then on as he sent the stadium into wild celebrations crossing the line for gold in a winning time of 27 minutes 30.42. American Galen Rupp won silver and Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia took bronze.
Greg Rutherford joined the British gold rush by winning the Olympic long jump title.
The self styled “Ginger Wizard” took the title on his fourth attempt and although 8.31 metres was the shortest to win an Olympics in 40 years it was enough to hold off Australia’s Mitchell Watt and American Will Claye.
Earlier in the day the golden celebrations came from Eton Dorney as British rowing again made a solid contribution to the medals haul.
In front of 30 thousand screaming fans Alex Gregory, Peter Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs-Hodge clung on to beat their fierce Australian rivals to take gold in the men’s four event.
The victory gave Britain a fourth consecutive win in the men’s four and appeared to set tempo for what happened next.
Twenty minutes later Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking rowed through the favourites to win the women’s lightweight double sculls by a length.
The duo, who had only been rowing together for a few months, were in utter disbelief and had to look up at the big screen to confirm their win.
GB’s rowing silver on the day came from British defending champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in the lightweight double men’s scull.
The pair had led the race from the off but within sight of the line Denmark came through at pace and pipped the Brits to gold.
Britain were in a league of their own as they demolished the United States to win the first ever women’s Olympic team pursuit gold.
The trio of Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King blasted around the boards smashing their own world record yet again with a time of three minutes 14.051 seconds.
The team’s victory continued the hosts’ domination of track cycling in which Team GB have now won four gold. With Bradley Wiggins’ time trial title plus a road race silver from Lizzie Armitstead and a time trial bronze from Chris Froome GB now have an impressive seven medals from the cycling races.
It wasn’t all Olympic glory for the home nation. Shelly Anne Fraser Price handed sprint powerhouse Jamaica their first Olympic gold from the track when the defending champion beat the field to win the women’s 100 metres in 10.75 seconds.
Carmelita Jeter of the United States was second at three hundredths of a second while Veronica Campbell-Brown offered Jamaica another medal with bronze.
Almost a month after winning the Wimbledon title Serena Williams was celebrating another triumph at the All England Club – Olympic gold. The American fourth seed thrashed third ranked Maria Sharapova of Russia.
Williams dropped just one game in the lopsided final as she completed the “golden slam” by winning all four majors as well as the Olympic singles title.
Her U.S. team mates Bob and Mike Bryan later claimed the men’s doubles gold beating French pair Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra.
In the pool Michael Phelps swam his last competitive race before retiring and ended his record-breaking career the only way he knew how, by winning another Olympic gold medal.
Joining forces with his American team mates, Phelps gave the sporting world one last view of his incredible talent and determination to win when the United States won the men’s medley relay on the final day of the swimming competition.
It was the perfect ending for the most decorated Olympian of all time who finished his career with 18 gold medals, twice as many as any other Olympian in any sport.
Phelps also won two silver and two bronze medals during his career, giving him a total of 22, yet another record.
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