Britain’s sporting night of nights – one never to be forgotten

Jessica Ennis kicks off the greatest of sporting nights Great Britain has ever known. Photo: Nick Butcher Jessica Ennis kicks off the greatest of sporting nights Great Britain has ever known. Photo: Nick Butcher

Monday, August 6, 2012
2:30 PM

Buckle up… You are about to read an example of someone trying to write a few hundred words on something where no words can do it justice.

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Mo Farah sends the country wild with his 10,000 metres success in the Olympics Stadium. Photo: Nick ButcherMo Farah sends the country wild with his 10,000 metres success in the Olympics Stadium. Photo: Nick Butcher

The only other time I had been in the magnificent, cacophony-enducing Olympic Stadium was for the opening ceremony – and we all saw how brilliant that was.

Saturday night tore it apart. More than a night to say ‘you were there’ – rather one to wish you still were.

As a 31-year-old, I can imagine such forever-replayed moments like that World Cup win in 1966 are etched in the memories of those who were alive at the time.

In which case, I hope someone is wrapping up a DVD of Saturday’s 60 minutes of Olympic wonderment.

Jessica Ennis struggles to take in her golden moment. Photo: Nick ButcherJessica Ennis struggles to take in her golden moment. Photo: Nick Butcher

In fact, never mind sleep. The first thing I did after getting back to my bed at 2am was find the highlights and relive the three golden moments to check what I had just witnessed had really happened.

Yet I also remember the feeling around the stadium at around 8pm.

Dai Greene made a hash of his 400m hurdles semi-final, while Jack Green in the other semi crashed into a hurdle and out of the Olympics.

The doubts of 80,000 people were audible – but soon forgotten.

Because to follow was 60 minutes of the most incredible sporting ecstasy this country has ever known – screams the Olympic Stadium has reverberated from ever since.

It started with a celebration. By the time those iconic floodlights switched from decadent to practical, we all knew Jessica Ennis was 800m away from confirming the inevitable.

Every glimpse of the lass from Sheffield, even replays on the two huge TV screens inside the stadium, brought cheers. The girl in person brought everyone to their feet.

Far from two processional laps, 200m out Ennis went for it – with an 80,000-strong audible shove in the back sending her flying through the line. Ennis collapsed. The stadium took off.

Realising what they had just done as a collective force, the crowd’s eyes and mouths were wide open.

With Ennis lapping in honour, Greg Rutherford was leaping in labour.

But the long jumper won’t have felt a drop of hardship for his colossal effort – not once that same wave of pure, unadulterated energy which had lifted Ennis to glory reached his runway. Not only did it reach Rutherford; it had picked up the decibels on its way around the track.

What maybe illustrates the immense nature of Saturday night best of all is that even all gone before wasn’t close to Mo Farah’s 10,000m epic.

To think I almost rolled my eyes at the prospect of waiting 24 laps before we got a result.

What we actually got was 24 tightens of our chests, 27 and a half breathless minutes – after which, the Olympic Stadium exploded. The noise left you shell-shoocked, while the sight left you in tears – the only debate being whether they were on the inside or out.

It wasn’t until a good few minutes after Mo had started celebrating I realised my hand was still over my mouth – I wasn’t the only one.

Ears were still ringing from the noise when sleep arrived; brains still shaking at 60 minutes bordering on an out-body experience.

It even felt remiss not to shake Farah’s hand as he left his post-race press conference. Needless to say, there was a queue.

“Tonight was the best night of my life.” beamed Farah, in answer to almost every question he was asked – whatever the subject.

I know a country somewhere that shares the sentiment with you, Mo.

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