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London Olympics: Britain's Jessica Ennis nears heptathlon gold

August 04, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Jessica Ennis of Britain competes in the javelin part of the heptathlon.
Jessica Ennis of Britain competes in the javelin part of the heptathlon. (Kerim Okten / EPA )

LONDON -- Usain Bolt and other sprinters stole the spotlight Saturday morning but British heptathlete Jessica Ennis earned her share of applause from the hometown crowd as she extended her lead through six events.

Ennis moved close to the gold medal with the second-best long jump of the day (21 feet, 3¼ inches) and a personal best of 155-9 in the javelin throw, giving her 5,971 points. Austra Skujyte of Lithuania remained second with 5,783 points, but Lyudmyla Yosypenko of Ukraine moved up to third with 5,701 points.

“It's been great. I'm having such a good time. It's been a brilliant day,” Ennis said. “I was anxious because of the long jump and I'm happy to have had a good jump. My long jump's been up and down this season.”

PHOTOS: Day 8 Olympic highlights

Hyleas Fountain of the U.S., the Beijing heptathlon silver medalist, was fifth after Friday’s initial phases but struggled on Saturday. Her long jump and javelin throw performances were weak and she stood 27th with only the 800-meter run left Saturday night. Sharon Day of Costa Mesa was 17th and Chantae McMillan of Rolla, Mo., was 26th.

In the women’s pole vault, two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbaeva of Russia led a group that cleared 14-11 and advanced to Monday’s final. Jenn Suhr of Fredonia, N.Y., the silver medalist four years ago, also advanced after clearing 14-11. The third American in the event, Lacy Janson of Sarasota, Fla., had a top clearance of 14-5¼ and didn’t advance.

“The event was great. I jumped well, but the weather was difficult for pole vaulting,” Isinbaeva said. “There was a strong wind in our face. After today, I feel really confident for the final. I feel in top form."

In the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia had the fastest time in the first round, 9:24.01. Two of the three Americans entered in the event moved on to Monday’s final: Emma Coburn of Crested Butte, Colo., was timed in 9:27.51 and Bridget Franek of Eugene Ore., was timed in 9:29.86. Shalaya Kipp of Salt Lake City ranked 29th in 9:48.33 and didn’t qualify for the final.

Saturday’s evening program will feature the semifinals and final of the women’s 100, the semifinals of the men’s 400 hurdles and women’s 400, the final event of the heptathlon and finals in the women’s discus throw, men’s long jump and men’s 10,000.

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