Phelps final dip on Britain's big day

Doug Conway, NZ Newswire August 5, 2012, 8:10 am

Swimming great Michael Phelps, tennis star Serena Williams and heptathlete Jessica Ennis lit up the London Olympics on Super Saturday with performances that variously created history and put smiles on the faces of millions of Britons.

Phelps ended the most glittering Olympic career ever in exactly the way it deserved to end - with another gold medal, his 18th, as he anchored America's victorious 100m medley relay team.

Phelps, 27, who swam his first Olympics in Sydney 12 years ago, extended his record total Olympic medal haul to a staggering 22 in the final swim of his career.

After a slow start to his last campaign, he finished strongly to end the meet with six medals - four gold and two silver after sweeping eight gold in Beijing in 2008 and six gold and two bronze in Athens in 2004.

He also created history by becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual race at three Olympics, and he did that in both the 200m medley and the 100m butterfly.

Serena Williams became only the second woman to complete a career Golden Slam when she won her first Olympic singles gold medal by trouncing Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-1 in the final at Wimbledon, where she won her fifth Wimbledon title a month ago.

The career Golden Slam was first achieved by Steffi Graf, who did it when she won the Olympics in 1988 after sweeping all four major titles.

But not even the mighty feats of Phelps and Williams produced the sort of euphoric response that greeted one of Britain's greatest track nights in history.

The crowning glory was the heptathlon gold medal won by Jessica Ennis, who has been the face of the London Games in the way Cathy Freeman was for Sydney.

Ennis stormed to victory in the 800m to cap off a golden two days in the seven-discipline event, sparking a national celebration that had even Prime Minister David Cameron tweeting.

It was the nation's first Olympic track gold in London since 1908, and like London buses another two arrived within the next half hour.

Greg Rutherford soared to victory over Australian Mitchell Watt in the long jump before Somali-born Mo Farah ran a blistering last lap to win the 10,000m.

The host nation went crazy after notching an incredible six gold medals in one day, and 14 over the past four days.

The hometown heroics almost overshadowed one of the signature events of the Games, the women's 100m final won by Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

She became the first woman to win two in a row since American Gail Devers in 1992 and 1996, and set up another Jamaican double for completion by the one man few would bet against - Usain Bolt.

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