Jessica Ennis's joy dashed by officials' error



As Jessica Ennis crossed the finish line on the specially constructed sprint strip stretching down Deansgate yesterday, she punched the air in celebration. Six days out from her meeting with her principal Olympic rivals in the Hypo Heptathlon at Götzis in Austria, the Sheffield woman had not only beaten two of the world's leading 100m hurdles specialists – the Olympic champion, Dawn Harper, and World Championship silver medallist, Danielle Carruthers – at their own game but she had done so in a personal best time.

The crowd lining Manchester's main thoroughfare for the Great City Games roared in approval, providing the great British track-and-field hope with a thrilling foretaste of what might come in the London Olympic arena two and a half months from now. The trackside clock flashed up 12.76sec and the winning time was subsequently rounded down to 12.75sec, 0.04sec quicker than Ennis's lifetime best. "I'm really pleased," the beaming European heptathlon champion said. "I didn't expect to run a PB in my first race."

It was only when Kelly Sotherton, the 2004 Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist, hit the Twittersphere several minutes later that it emerged that the personal best was, in fact, invalid. After watching the race on television, Ennis's long-time rival tweeted: "That 100m h was great but I'm sure that there was [sic] only 9 hurdles not 10. Please someone verify!"

Currently recovering from a back problem that forced her out of the Desenzano heptathlon in Italy last month, Sotherton had previous in spotting logistical errors in hurdles races. After running in the 100m hurdles in the London Grand Prix in July 2008, the Birchfield Harrier complained that the third set of hurdles had been positioned in the wrong place and her protest was upheld. She was right again yesterday. Scrutiny of television replays showed that the athletes had negotiated just nine flights, not the requisite 10.

All of which rendered the result invalid and took the shine off Ennis's sunny mood. "That is so, so annoying," she said, when the confirmation of the cock-up came through. "I just feel like it's such a wasted race now. I was obviously running well at the end. Stick another hurdle on and it would have been the same outcome. But I'm so annoyed.

"I'm going to walk down the track next weekend in Götzis and check the hurdles. I can't believe it. It's a great event here but that is a massive, massive mess-up. There should be no mistakes like that."

Indeed not. "It's a very unfortunate mistake," David Hart, communications director for event organisers Nova International, said. "We would like to apologise for this unacceptable incident, and in particular to the athletes."

Sotherton was somewhat contrite too. "I feel bad!" she tweeted. "People probably think I'm being a cow bag."

Dwain Chambers was also concerned about public reaction yesterday but, in his first race on home soil since the lifting of the British Olympic Association ban on the selection of reinstated doping offenders, the Belgrave Harrier received a rousing reception. The 150m race distance was a little too long for the 100m specialist, who finished runner-up to American Wallace Spearmon in 15.27sec, but Chambers was a happy man afterwards. "It was great to get a reception like that," he said. "I was unsure what it was going to be like."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

£15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food