Super Scare ahead of Super Saturday for Britain
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) The prospect of a samba-style Super Saturday is still alive for Britain. For a time on Friday, though, it felt more like a Super Scare.
Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill started her first day of the seven-discipline event and Greg Rutherfold had to qualify for the long jump on Friday, so they could join 10,000-meter champion Farah in a bid for another three-gold-in-one-evening bash for British athletes late Saturday.
All three won gold on the same night in London four years ago, and are trying to repeat.
Ennis-Hill? Leading after four of seven events in the heptathlon and very much in the driving seat to take in gold, particularly since her main pre-Olympic rival, Brianne Theisen-Eaton is floundering in sixth place.
Rutherford? That was a scrape with disaster, when he fouled on his first two attempts in qualifying, and had one jump left to keep up his share of the bargain.
''It was a funny one,'' said Rutherford, known for keeping his cool in the toughest of circumstances. With his last attempt, he made overly sure not to overstep and his only legal jump - 7.90 meters - stood for 10th place when only 12 can reach the final. He made the cut by seven centimeters.
''Going into the final round I definitely wasn't as stressed as my family were at home,'' he said. "For me it's one of these where you draw on all the experiences that you've had.''
Since his gold in London in 2012, he has clinched a Grand Slam of titles - Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European - coming to Rio. He rarely excels for the entire season, but on any big night, he is tough to beat - exactly because of the cool he showed Friday.
Over halfway home, and Jessica Ennis-Hill is where she wants to be - on top.
With a blistering 200 meters, the defending champion overtook surprise early leader Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium to regain the momentum going into the final day. She wished her shot put and 200 could have been better, though.
With a time of 23.49 seconds in the 200, Ennis-Hill pushed up her total to 4,057 points, the only woman to break the 4,000-mark. Thiam was in second spot with 3,985.
The heptathlon was expected to be a duel between Ennis-Hill and Theisen-Eaton but the Canadian appeared to struggle throughout the day and was in sixth position with 3,871.
Now everyone in Britain is counting on Farah to come through too.
Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rcasert