Thursday 21 November 2019

British sweetheart Jessica Ennis starts heptathlon with record breaking hurdles performance

Jessica Ennis, centre, on her way to winning heat 5 of the Women's Heptathlon 100m Hurdles
Jessica Ennis, centre, on her way to winning heat 5 of the Women's Heptathlon 100m Hurdles

A RAPTUROUS crowd in the Olympic Stadium saw British athlete Jessica Ennis begin the biggest two days of her sporting life in glorious style today.

In the first day of athletics at the Games, only a handful of seats in the 80,000-capacity arena were empty to see the 26-year-old record the fastest time ever for the 100m hurdles in the heptathlon, putting her in first position.

Huge cheers erupted as the Sheffield athlete was introduced to fans before her heat, followed by an even bigger roar when her time - also a British record for the 100m hurdles - was revealed.

But elsewhere the controversy continued over five-times Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy's historic triumph in the cycling team sprint yesterday.

The French cycling coach called for a rule change after British rider Philip Hindes appeared to suggest he had crashed deliberately in qualifying to give the team a second chance after a poor start.

Florian Rousseau insisted the host nation deserved its win after beating the French team trio in the cycling team sprint.

But he said cycling's international governing body must now re-examine its regulations to prevent future controversy blighting the sport.

British Cycling has suggested Hindes' comments were "lost in translation" from a man who began learning English only after moving to Manchester to train at the Velodrome, while the International Cycling Union confirmed the result was not in question.

Among today's leading gold medal hopes are double world champion rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, who head into the final of the women's double scull unbeaten in 22 consecutive races since they were first paired together in 2010.

After three consecutive silver medals and 12 years as an Olympic bridesmaid, Grainger, 36, and her partner Watkins, 29, are favourites to win gold.

Victoria Pendleton will also be looking to banish yesterday's disappointment of being disqualified from the team sprint event along with team-mate Jess Varnish for a takeover infringement.

The 31-year-old, crowned the queen of the track after her Beijing sprint success, continues her final competition before retirement with her second event, the keirin, which begins behind a motorised Derny bike.

She won the world title in 2007, but the physical event is rather a lottery and she may be outmuscled by bigger opponents.

And Rebecca Adlington is also looking to become the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title in the 800m final.

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