Jessica Ennis, the poster girl of the British Olympic team, had a dream start to her London 2012 campaign when she broke the UK 100 metres hurdles record in the opening event of the heptathlon.
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The Sheffield athlete looked stunned as she looked up at the electronic scoreboard in the Olympic stadium to discover that she had clocked 12.54 sec to win her heat – obliterating her previous lifetime best of 12.79 and slicing 0.02 sec off Tiffany Porter’s national record for the event.
It was also the quickest hurdles time ever recorded by a woman in a heptathlon, bringing her a noisy standing ovation from the 80,000 crowd when her achievement was announced.
Ennis had revealed before the race that she was hoping for a personal best but could not have imagined that she would shatter it by such a margin.
It gave her 1,195 points and a 17-point lead over Canadian Jessica Zelinka in second place. More significantly, it put her a massive 142 points ahead of Russia’s Tatyana Chernova, who was almost a second slower in 13.48 sec. Nataliya Dobrynska, the reigning Olympic champion, was even further behind after clocking 13.57 sec.
In all, five women lowered their personal bests in Ennis’s heat, confirming pre-Games predictions that the track would be super-fast and raising the prospect of plenty more records to come.
Britain’s Katarina Thompson-Johnson also enjoyed a superb start to her Olympic career when she produced a personal best of 13.48 sec, while Commonwealth champion Louise Hazel ran a season’s best of 13.48 sec.
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