Britain revels in joy after ‘Super Saturday’

Britain revels in joy after ‘Super Saturday’

LONDON - The Associated Press
Britain revels in joy after ‘Super Saturday’

Farah’s gold medal capped a hat trick of athletics victories for Great Britain.

In one unforgettable night for a nation, the Olympic Games and their host, Britain, was the best it can be.

Three British athletes winning three gold medals in the Olympic Stadium in a delirious 44-minute spell produced the signature moment of the London Games. 

Barring catastrophe in the final week, this Saturday night of fever and fervor made sure that the London Olympics will be remembered as a roaring success.

It was a night when the prefix “Great” before “Britain” suddenly seemed to make a lot more sense. It ended, so appropriately, with the massive crowd in the 80,000-seat stadium awash in the colors of the Union Jack’s red, white and blue and belting out “God Save the Queen” to celebrate sporting success beyond their wildest expectations.

At the midpoint of the 2012 games, London on Aug. 4 had hometown athletes Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah winning one after another, whipping to a froth the stadium crowd that proved to be a star, too, by lifting their champions to undreamt-of heights.

“I’m worried I’m going to wake up in a minute and this ain’t going to be real,” said Rutherford, who won the long jump.

“Incredible night. I mean how many people expected three gold medals out of three possible gold medals? It’s the greatest night in British athletics history, I think,” he said. “It’s been about inspiring a generation. What can be more inspring than going out and winning?”

“It’s just amazing. If it wasn’t for the crowd I don’t think that would happen,” said Farah, winner of the 10,000 meters. “They give you that lift, that boost. It’s just incredible.”

When added to two more golds from the rowers and another from women’s track cycling, Britain’s total for the day was six. For the games, its haul so far is 14 golds, seven silver and eight bronze, for a total of 29. Only China and the United States have more.

Jonathan Edwards, now a television presenter, was reminded of Sydney in 2000, when he won triple-jump gold for Britain, Cathy Freeman became the first Aborigine to win an individual Olympic gold medal, in the women’s 400 meters, and Michael Johnson made Olympic history by becoming the first man to successfully defend a 400-meter title. Haile Gebrselassie also successfully defended his 10,000-meter crown. This all in one night. Edwards called it “Magic Monday.”

“In world terms, maybe that still stands as the greatest night,” he said.

But London’s “Super Saturday” lived up to its name, too.

“That won’t be topped,” said Edwards. “To see a night like that - Jess Ennis set up to be the golden girl, Mo the golden guy, Greg Rutherford to come from almost nowhere to win a gold medal. It’s just staggering. You need a new lexicon, actually. You run out of words to describe that.”