Over the years, British sport has been blessed with many truly great days and nights, occasions when the outstanding nature of an individual or team achievement has succeeded in lifting national spirit.
Admittedly, many of these feats are deemed fantastic only if you’re a dedicated follower of the winner, but it’s difficult to argue with the assertion that for the nation as a whole, August 4, 2012, should go down as the greatest day in British sport.
Early in the day, Team GB won two golds and a silver at Eton Dornay, then the women’s pursuit cyclists broke the world record for a fifth time to qualify for their gold medal match. If this wasn’t enough, the evening session added a large dollop of extra magic. John Inverdale memorably described it as being “like the last night of the Proms times a hundred.”
In the space of an hour, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis, the ‘face of the Games’, won gold during the most inspirational, uplifting, night of all.
Ennis was not necessarily expected to win her final heptathlon event, the 800m, but as she limbered up, her coach told her she had between 15 and 25 seconds on her nearest rivals. “The figures were music to my ears,” she writes, “and confidence oozed through me.”
The weight of expectation on this young woman was, appropriately, given her book’s title, truly unbelievable, yet she drew upon the energy generated by the crowd, her ’80,000 friends’.
She describes the race’s final lap: “As I move forwards I hear the crowd erupt. I feel I am being carried along.” Hands up if you recall shouting at the TV screen, urging her towards the finish line.
As she crossed the line, around 60 million people greeted her victory with a mighty, collective roar. Jessica had done it. The girl next door was an Olympic champion.
It was, she tells us, a sixteen year race to this ultimate glory, a period during which she was bullied at school for being small and endured the heartache of injury which nearly ended her career.
Unbelievable is worth buying just to relive that wonderful early August night, but as Jessica Ennis’s name is on the cover, you get much, much more.
Sportsbookofthemonth.com price: £10.00
We’ve teamed up with Sports Book of the Month and have a copy of Unbelievable to give away.
To win this week’s sports book, go to their website (www.sportsbookofthemonth.com) and answer the following question:
Where was Jessica Ennis born?