Sport that Shaped Me: Super Saturday


Blyth McPherson takes us down memory lane with her favourite sporting moment, Super Saturday

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Image by David Jones

By Blyth McPherson

One of my favourite sporting moments took place on a cloudy Saturday back in 2012, known forever-after in Britain as Super Saturday. The Olympics came to London in 2012 and with it an excited feeling all around the country for a summer of sports and celebrations. The momentum of the Olympics was well underway as we entered 4 August, and what was to be Britain’s best Olympic day in 104 years. Super Saturday saw Great Britain win six Olympic Gold medals in one day, with the three athletics gold medals won inside a single 45-minute period.

While it is the evening that is mostly remembered for its amazing achievements, the day started off early with success for Great Britain. Over on the water at Eton Dorney, gold medals could be seen around the necks of the GB men’s four, made up of Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge, swiftly followed some ten minutes later by the women’s double sculls pair, Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, doing the same thing. Two gold medals down and the events in the Olympic village hadn’t even started yet, from the start it was looking like a successful day for Great Britain.

One of my favourite things about the Olympics is how excited people get about sports that prior to watching the event that day, they probably knew very little about.  And how infectious that excitement is. Wherever you went the commentary of the days events could be heard from a radio or tv somewhere in the distance, and updates of the days events discovered through snippets of overheard conversation. Everyone was excited, and everyone anticipated what would happen that evening as the poster pair for Team GB took to the track, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, in their attempts to bring home gold.

Before the evening's events at the Olympic Stadium, we had the Velodrome to tune into.  Team GB were already showing huge success in the cycling, so Super Saturday was no different from usual for them.  The women’s team pursuit was the fourth gold of the day for Team GB as Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell broke the world record in their heat against Canada, and then again in the final as they easily beat the United States.

With your favourite sporting moments it is a combination of both the events itself and what you were doing when it happened that make it such a fond memory. For me, Super Saturday occurred while I was on a family trip to Cornwall and it is the evenings events that I remember so fondly. At the age of 12, the London 2012 Olympics are the first Olympics I really remember, and with that the first experience I remember of my dear mother screaming at the TV while jumping up and down. As we settled in to watch the evening’s events unfold the nervous excitement in the air became almost palatable.

Up first was Jessica Ennis, who had pretty much guaranteed her gold in the heptathlon from her performance in the mornings events but still had one final event to go. The 800m was the final event and Ennis had the lead up until around the last 200m, when she was overtaken twice and found herself in third place. When you watch the race back now you can almost see the look of “not at my own Olympics” in her eyes as she kicks into turbo mode as she comes around the corner approaching the last 100m. She then breezes past the athletes in front of her, as the roars from the crowd becoming deafening as she crosses the line with her arms in the air. She wins gold in the heptathlon, finishing 306 points in front of second place. It was just the start to the evenings events, and the start of my mum's excitement.

Next up was Greg Rutherford and his shot at gold in the long jump – and in my own opinion the Team GB heartthrob to rival Tom Daly. Watching the long jump is always a strange experience as you can never really tell if the jump has gone well until the jumper gets up and reacts.  And the reaction to Rutherford’s winning fourth jump of 8.31m really did let you know that he had secured the gold.  His smiling face in all the interviews that followed showed how this was truly as exciting and exhilarating a night for us at home as it was for him.

The final event of the evening was the highly anticipated men’s 10,000m featuring Mo Farah. There were high expectations for this event, with the possibility of Farah bringing home gold very real. And this is the event where my mums excitement did really get quite out of control. The 10,000 metres is an event you do have to commit to as a viewer, as it lasts for just over 20 minutes.  The first 5,000m seem silly to react to as the excitement really comes at the end of the race, but from the second the gun blasted go my mum was stood up saying “run, run, run” to Mo in the TV. But it is the final lap of this race that will remain in my memory forever.  My mum became restricted to two words, “run” and “no” for when anyone came near to Farah’s position in first. The jumping up and down started as they reached the 400m left mark, and inaudible sounds came as Farah rounded the last corner.  The camera angle as the runners rounded that final corner meant the gap between Farah and the second and third place at that point seemed very close.  To which my sweet-natured, 5ft-nothing mother, bellowed “RUN!” as loud as she could at Mo, as if he in London could hear her from Cornwall and would be compelled to run faster at her request. However, by my mother’s wish or his own winning determination (my mum would say it was her doing), he did run faster as he approached the final 100m. It was as if he hadn’t just been running for 20 minutes as he seemed to fly through the air as he extended his lead and crossed the line in first place. The sixth gold medal for Great Britain in one day.

Super Saturday was the first time I experienced any form of sporting national pride, and was the conversation on everyone’s lips for the following few days. I get clips of it appearing on my TikTok feed now, almost nine years later. The London Olympics in general is one of my favourite sporting events, with so many fond memories as an at home spectator and in person one for a variety of Paralympic events. I don’t think I’ve committed as much time to any other sporting competition as I did to watching the Olympics that year, and Super Saturday will forever be remembered to me as a day of amazing sporting achievements.