Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis won European heptathlon gold after dominating the 800m finale to fend off her closest rival Nataliya Dobrynska.
Ennis ran 2 minutes 10.18 seconds, 2.12sec ahead of second-placed Ukrainian Dobrynska, to rack up a championship record 6,823 points total.
Olympic champion Dobrynska, who needed to beat Ennis by 1.2sec to strike gold, was 45 points adrift to claim silver.
German Jennifer Oeser took bronze with a total of 6,683 points.
Ennis’s gold was one of three for Britain on Saturday, and there were two silver medals as well.
GB’s total of 16 medals overall is one more than head coach Charles van Commenee’s stated target, with a day remaining in the championships.
Ennis ‘proud’ to win European gold
“It’s been nerve-wracking having all the athletes on my heels,” admitted Ennis, who led the competition from start to finish but was pushed all the way by Dobrynska.
“It feels so good to win again. I had to raise my game, and I’m so proud to come out on top again.
“Before the 800m I just wanted to win and I have! I’m so made up.”
Earlier, Dobrynska cut Ennis’s overnight lead of 110 points to 18 after strong performances in the long jump and javelin.
World champion Ennis produced consistent leaps of 6.28m, 6.41m and 6.43m – just 8cm short of her personal best – in the first discipline of the day, the long jump.
But 28-year-old Dobrynska jumped 6.56m in her second round – 7cm down on her own best mark – to close the gap on Ennis to 68 points.
In the javelin, Ennis threw a personal best 46.71m, however, Dobrynska continued to apply pressure on the Sheffield athlete with a throw of 49.25m.
I’m a little bit afraid for her because we’re still two years away from 2012
BBC pundit Michael Johnson
The 24-year-old Briton, though, showed why she was expected to stave off Dobrynska’s challenge in the 800m finale when she stormed to the front of the field from the gun.
The Ukrainian briefly went ahead going into the final bend but Ennis reasserted her authority on the race in confident fashion before eventually storming down the home straight to win by a comfortable margin.
Her gold-winning personal best total surpasses Swede Carolina Kluft’s 2006 championship-best mark by 83 points but was was a mere eight shy of former Olympic champion Denise Lewis’s British record.
“It would have been good to have broken the British record but before the 800 I just wanted to win,” reflected Ennis.
“There’s a lot of pressure and expectation but I’m so happy with myself how I dealt with it.”
In two years’ time, that pressure is likely to be significantly greater as she goes for gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
And BBC pundit Michael Johnson, who achieved the 200-400m sprint double in his native United States at the 1996 Atlanta Games, believes Ennis faces a delicate balancing act in her preparations for the London Games.
“As I think about the opportunity that Jessica Ennis has with 2012 coming, I’m a little bit afraid for her because we’re still two years away,” said Johnson. “You’ve got to keep everything together.
“What she’ll have to do is take it one step at a time and now focus on next year’s World Championships, not get too ahead of herself and have those goals in between now and 2012.
“It will be a phenomenal opportunity for her to participate in an Olympic Games on home soil, when it’s all coming right, when she’s at the peak of her career. She’s doing everything right at this point.
“She’s got a very level head, she knows what she wants, she’s a very focused individual. I don’t worry about [distractions], I just worry about injury and that sort of thing.”
Ennis throws lifetime best in javelin
Jessica Ennis was born on January 28th, 1986 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Ennis
1 + 28 +2+0+1+0 = 32 = her personal year (from January 28th, 2010 to January 27th, 2011) = Winning. Victory. Triumph. Champion. Mighty. Glory. Pride. First place. Number 1. The greatest. The best.