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Ennis Rules The World

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Jessica Ennis with flag

16 August 2009

On the second evening of competition at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team received its first medal - a gold, whilst history was made in the men’s 100m courtesy of a certain Jamaican triple Olympic champion.

Jessica Ennis (Sheffield) took the World Heptathlon gold medal in a final session of excellence where she moved to second on the UK all time lists on a points score of 6731, 238 ahead of German Jennifer Oeser in silver on 6493.

It was a superlative performance, of which not one of her events could be considered weak, and her composure and professionalism in delivering the much promised goods followed a year spent in injury woe, missing the Beijing Olympics and wondering what might have been.

But her glorious win in Berlin was the culmination of so much hard work from herself and coach Toni Minichiello, and the rave response from the British Supporters flooding the stadium almost got the better of the very vocal German support.

It meant that the Commonwealth bronze medalist and former European Junior Champion had added a global title to her impressive young haul.

The evening had started with the javelin, not one of Ennis’ strongest events, but one she had made improvements to in this year alone.

Her first throw of 43.54m was a solid start and although her second throw was 38.96m and third a foul, the 735 points helped her to continue her lead into the 800m with 5799.

In the 800m she truly went for broke. With a cushion of 11 seconds ahead of her next rival it would have been forgiven if Ennis had played safe, but she blasted away, taking the bell in one minute flat and eventually crossing the line first in 2:12.22 for 932 points.

Full of emotion, she was thrown a flag the size of a kingsize bedsheet and proceeded to take a lap of honour that was a moment of utter bliss for the 23 year old.

“It has been the longest two days of my life, but I can't believe it! I really feel like crying, it’s just amazing!” She said. 

“I have dreamt so many times of being World Champion and doing the lap of honour, now I've actually done it.

“The World Championships has come round so quick, this year has been the best year of my life, this is just the icing on the cake. I had such a low point last year, but this come back has been amazing!”

Louise Hazel (Birchfield) – took to her final two events with the determination she had shown for the previous 26 hours and made sure of a significant points score to celebrate her debut on the world stage.

In the javelin her 43.51m gifted her 735 points to take her to a total of 5127 and 14th position. Then, in the 800m, she then gave it all she had and ran a PB of 2:15.85, taking her points total to 6008 to maintain 14th and breaking the 6000 barrier for only the second time in her career.

"I’m relieved. I’m just glad to be finished. Over 6000 points again proved to everyone I could do it.

“I said at the beginning of the year, me and Jess would be back with a bang and we have been – she’s done amazing – I’m so proud of the girl.”

In the men’s 100m, GB and NI’s Dwain Chambers (Belgrave) could only be a distant spectator to the show put on by Usain Bolt, who ran an amazing World Record to take yet another global title.

Bolt, who was easily the favourite, did not have it all his own way however as the threat of Tyson Gay was closer than anyone expected. Although Bolt crossed the line in 9.58 seconds, Gay set a new USA record of 9.71 – simply an amazing time to ‘only’ achieve a silver medal.

Chambers, in lane one, ran a season’s best of 10.00 but was only sixth in a quality final where Asafa Powell took bronze in 9.84.

“I don't know what to say, it was just an amazing experience to be part of that race! I raced against the very best in the world, it was so worth it, said Chambers. 

“You can't put it into words, but it was great! Now, I want to recuperate, encourage the rest of the team and prepare for the 200m.”

Earlier, at the semi final stage, Chambers had squeezed in the final by finishing fourth in 10.04, behind Tyson Gay winning in 9.93. But team mate Tyrone Edgar had not progressed.

Edgar (Newham & Essex) suffered the disappointment of disqualification at the semi final stage after Bolt, in the next lane, had caused the first false start which resulted in the whole field being officially on a warning. It seemed a raw deal for Edgar as the entire line up seemed to break evenly, but he walked away from his blocks and could only watch from the sidelines  the dominate performance that followed from the Jamaican  Olympic champion and World Record Holder.

Earlier in the evening, in the semi finals of the men’s 400m hurdles, Dai Greene (Cardiff) looked superb with a PB of 48.27 to not only finish second, but to make further inroads into his own Welsh record.

Heading round the final bend in approximately fourth or fifth place he looked strongest of the athletes over the final 100m and eased up as he crossed the line.

It meant Greene, who looked able to go much faster, now goes into the final as fourth best on the UK all time list.

“I went off quite conservatively as I usually do.,” he said. “I knew if I was in contention on hurdle eight I would be able to bring it home and be in the running for a top place.

“I wasn’t thinking about a medal – I was thinking about a place in the final. I also assume that everyone would run to the best of their abilities, but it didn’t seem to be the case.

“I came here prepared to run my PB, I didn’t think I would better that!”

In the women’s 400m semi finals, there was yet another meeting of the two pre-event favourites, with Christine Ohuruogu (Newham & Essex) and USA’s Sanya Richards facing each other in the same heat.

In a one lap game of cat and mouse where both athletes put in various levels of effort it was Richards however who again strode away for a win in 50.21 to Ohuruogu’s 50.35.

Despite the fascinating competitive element it was the slowest of the heats, the standard of which on the balmy Sunday evening saw Ohuruougu’s team-mate Nicola Sanders (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) exit the competition.

Sanders came fourth in her semi final, a fast run race won in 49.51. Although the 50.45 was her fastest since 2007, she did not qualify in what was a series of tough qualifiers with five athletes ducking under the 50 second barrier.

“I went out hard, those girls ran crazy fast. I would have needed a PB time to get through.” She said

“The winner’s time would have won in Beijing last year, it’s hard to be happy when you didn’t get through. But it’s my fastest time since Osaka, I couldn’t have done anymore. I just didn’t have anything in my legs. I stuck to my race plan and it was all coming together until the last part.”

Phillips Idowu (Belgrave) qualified with relative ease for the men’s triple jump final. His first leap of 17.10m looked solid enough, but he made well sure of exceeding the automatic qualification distance of 17.15m with a second effort of 17.32m

Larry Achike (Shaftesbury Barnet) opened with 16.88m, and further improved to 16.94m whilst Nathan Douglas (Oxford) had a first round 17.00m, second round recorded no mark then third round 16.90m. It meant the Brits had a solid qualifying event with Idowu and Douglas taking second and tenth positions, but unfortunately Achike was left in 13th, narrowly missing out on a top twelve place in his second consecutive global final.

Achike said: “I’m gutted, it was the last guy that could possibly send me out the competition and he jumped a few centimetres more than me. I knew what the mark was and I didn’t get it.

“I need to figure out what I did wrong this year. I put everything into today, the preparation since I have been here is spot-on. This was competition five for me, usually going into a majors you want to be on number ten.”

Idowu said: “I took it a little bit too easy in the first round, but picked it up a little bit for the second. It is nice to be out there jumping and I’m enjoying myself. It’s been fun. I’m looking forward to the final. What I did today was quite comfortable so hopefully I can find a bit extra.”