Britain in love with JessicaAzad Majumder . London
Of the seven heptathlon events, her most favourite one is 100m hurdles so Jessica Ennis must have some ideas about China’s Liu Xiang, the poster boy in Beijing four years ago.
It all had ended in agony for Liu, the first Asian man to take gold in an Olympics track event, winning the 110m hurdles at Athens in 2004, which made him a superstar in China overnight.
But in Beijing he stunned and disappointed his compatriots by pulling up injured before he had reached even the first hurdle of the opening heat, shocking spectators into silence.
Jessica missed the Beijing Games through injury but being aware of Liu’s sad tale she appeared determined not to break the British hearts in similar manner.
In the run-up to the London Olympics, her image was used in the newspapers, broadcast illustrations making her the unofficial poster girl of London.
While sometime it comes as an inspiration, it can also put some pressure on any athlete as it happened to Liu. For Jessica it was even tougher as her event lasted for two days.
She took the lead on first day, which left her fans and media going further crazy, but she was completely oblivious to the noise and excitement around her in the Olympic stadium and barely acknowledged the cameras that followed her every move.
It was not until she crossed the finishing line of the 800-metre race line, the final event of the heptathlon, she let her emotions show. She flailed her arms wildly in joy and there were tears in her eyes.
She then draped herself in a Union flag and led other 32 participants in a lap of honour to the music of David Bowie’s ‘We Could Be Heroes’.
‘I don’t know what to say, I’m still in shock,’ an overjoyed Ennis later told a news conference.
The 26-year-old from Sheffield finally completed her comeback from injuries that kept her out of the Beijing Olympics. In her childhood all she wanted was to meet and marry US singer Justin Timberlake, but the former waitress of Pizza Hut changed her goal since the heartbreak four years ago.
She realised the goal finally on Saturday in front of 80,000 fans, who all cheered her with great excitement and noise.
‘It’s been brilliant couple of days. Coming into this championship everyone expected me to win the gold medal before I even stepped on the track,’ said Jessica
‘It’s a mix of everything, obviously missing Beijing and having disappointment there and having to put so much work in these past two years.
‘So much pressure has been put on me but I’ve had so much support...and just actually realising
I’ve achieved one of my greatest goals.’
Ennis came into the competition with lingering doubts over her javelin event which was weaker part. But with a personal best of 47.49 metres she almost sealed the deal in what was the penultimate event of heptathlon.
It was the 50th gold medal of Great Britain in their athletics history, which made them the third country to achieve the feat after the United States (312) and Soviet Union (64).
England later added two more gold medals from in men’s long jump and 10,000-metre run on the same night but none of the other gold medallists received so much attention from the media as Jessica.
One can hardly blame the media, who were looking for a genuine new poster girl after swimmer Rebecca Adlington failed to deliver in the pool. In Jessica they have found a true one, one that the entire Britain is now in love with.
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