I was there last night for the Super Saturday evening session in the Olympic stadium when Team GB won three golds in an hour. It was without doubt the most intense crowd experience I’ve ever had in my life. Nothing prepares you for being part of an 80,000 home crowd at an Olympics. I was in unchartered territory. But what a night. What a night!
We arrived in the impressive stadium to see the flame which, if you’d seen the opening ceremony, was inspiring in a way that others haven’t been particularly. There were some empty seats – eight of them were next to us. Three were filled later by some accredited Brazilians. The only people on the finishing line are press and dignitaries. We were close to the track on the final bend.
The evening started quietly with the Men’s 400m hurdles heats where Dai Green under-performed but got through. Then the women’s 100m semis warmed us up a bit while a distant women’s discus competition took place. With no expectations on my part the long jump kicked off. The roar from the far side of the stadium told us something was happening there, but Rutherford’s first jump was a dud. The atmosphere kicked up a notch when the women heptathletes came out and, to a tumultuous roar, Rutherford put in jump of 8.21m.
The 19 year old heptathlete Johnson-Thompson stirred us all up by coming off the final bend for the 800 m and overtaking three women in front of her. The emotion was building in the crowd. Sometimes it was too much and I couldn’t get anything out, the lump was too big. Can you imagine what it’s like to run in front of a crowd like that?
We missed Rutherford’s 8.31m jump because we were caught up in the Jessica Ennis finale. We all went nuts when she came off that last bend and saw her decide that she wasn’t going to accept third place and take Schwarzkopf and Chernova on the final straight to win. It went beserk in our stand. Completely and utterly delerious. What a winner that woman is. What heart she showed. You cannot conceive of the pressure she was under as the poster girl for London 2012 and did she deliver? She gave us everything and more.
We’d only just recovered when Mo Farah came out for his 10,000 metres. This was different. There had been little or no expectation of Rutherford winning gold and Jessica Ennis was already comfortably in gold before her 800m, but Mo was coming there with huge expectations on his tiny shoulders in a race full of Kenyans and Ethiopians could he pull it off?
There was a hardly a point in the race when one of ten men couldn’t win it. When Mo went through the bell for the last lap the stadium was reverberating. As he hit that last bend the noise of our collective roar was so loud it spiked in my ears. We were screaming and leaping, hollering with fists raised, we were mad. GO MO! GO MO! GO MO! An insanity had gripped us. A euphoric lunacy. We blew him over that line.
It took a while to calm down for the Heptathlon medal ceremony. Only the non Brits left the stadium. We were all hanging on in there for Jessica. She’d done us proud. We were going to return it. Seb Coe knew he had to be there. He had to say his thank you to her for totally delivering at his games. He presented the flowers, which was a nice touch. Then we sang the national anthem for her. Blasted it out into the night. Sang our hearts out for the Sheffield girl who had made us proud to be British.
What a night. What an unbelievable night!