Brits in Barcelona gold rush
In a night to remember for Britain, Jessica Ennis claimed gold on the penultimate day of competition in the European Championships in Barcelona, yesterday.
Ennis added the European heptathlon crown to the world title she won last year with a hard-fought victory over Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska, of Ukraine, winning by just 45 points.
She led from start to finish over two gruelling days of competition, as she had done in Berlin last year, but this time was pushed all the way by Dobrynska.
The 24-year-old from Sheffield only had an 18-point lead (or cushion of around 1.3 seconds) going into the 800m, and Dobrynska briefly tried to wipe that out as she took the lead with 250m to go.
But Ennis was having none of it and quickly reclaimed the lead before powering to victory in two minutes 10.18 seconds.
Before, Dai Greene had led Britain's second one-two of the championships, claiming gold in the 400 metres hurdles ahead of team-mate Rhys Williams.
Greene powered to victory in 48.12 seconds, lowering his own leading time in Europe this year with a new personal best. And Williams survived misjudging the final hurdle to claim silver in 48.96, also a new personal best. Ukraine's Stanislav Melnykov took bronze.
More glory was to follow, as in the very last event of the day, Mo Farah pulled off a stunning double, winning gold in the 5,000m final to add to his 10,000m gold from the opening day.
Farah became the first runner to do the Euro distance double for 20 years, emulating the achievement of Italy's Salvatore Amin in Split in 1990. Dending champion Jesus Espana, of Spain, was second, with Azerbaijan's Hayle Ibrahimov third.
Michael Rimmer looked on course to claim Britain's first 800m gold since Tom McKean in 1990 when he took over the lead with around 250 metres to go. The 24-year-old from Southport battled bravely down the home straight but was finally overtaken by Poland's Marcin Lewandowski just metres from the line.
Lewandowski clocked one minute 47.07 seconds with Rimmer just a tenth of a second behind, Poland's Adam Kszczot claiming the bronze.
Earlier in the day, Lithuania's Zivile Balciunaite put previous European misery behind her as she came out on top in punishing heat to win gold in the women's marathon.
The 31-year-old just missed out on a medal four years ago in Gothenburg but having targeted the European Championships all season, not even the high temperatures could stop her taking gold.
The veteran competitor was able to maintain her tempo in the second half of the race to finish in a time of 2hr 31min 14sec.
Russia's Nailya Yulamanova and Italy's Anna Incerti took silver and bronze respectively.
In the morning heats, France raced into the final of the 4x100m relay without even calling on their double European champion Christophe Lemaitre.
The 100m and 200m gold medal winner was rested and it was left to Martial Mbandjock, bronze medal winner in the 100m, to run France home in a time of 39.12secs.
Germany qualified in first place but the big surprise was the elimination of Great Britain, who were expected to challenge France for gold.
Despite being without Dwain Chambers, who was not selected as Britain build a team for the Olympics, they still had a strong squad including 100m silver medallist Mark Lewis Francis, but a poor handover involving Marlon Devonish and him saw them lose valuable time.
There was no better news from the women's team either, Joice Maduaka, Montell Douglas, Hayley Jones and Laura Turner finishing sixth in their semi-final to also miss out on the final after more poor baton exchanges.
The first women's semi-final had featured 50-year-old Merlene Ottey competing for Slovenia, but there was no fairytale ending for the former Jamaican star.
Ottey, the oldest ever competitor in the championships, ran the final leg but Slovenia's quartet could only finish seventh in 44.30s to miss out on the final.