IT was a moment of agony that might just win Olympic gold.
The expression on that flawless face fell from the height of victory to the treacherous consolation of second place in a few agonising seconds.
Captured for the world to see, Jessica Ennis, symbol of hope for Sheffield, Britain and the London Olympics – no pressure, Jess – thought she was world champion.
But seconds later her celebratory whoops turned to ashes in her mouth and, as she described it, ‘the worst feeling in the world’ as her name went from number one to number two on the leaderboard.
In those seconds of victory her winter training schedule would have been justified in her mind, her strategies proven and her sense of destiny reinforced, subtly and subliminally perhaps but all emotions logged, approved and filed in the victory folder.
Then the comedown and a feeling she won’t forget.
Whatever hardships, physical pain or mental challenges she faces between now and August Jessica Ennis will remember those fleeting moments of triumph and the anguish that followed.
That she did not win in Istanbul despite her posting a personal-best score will hurt a woman who already knows the agony of missing out.
Defeat at the weekend will have brought back some of the dark days of2008 when a stress fracture put Jessica out of the Bejing Olympics.
Jessica Ennis knows that one mistake, injury or blip can ruin games, seasons and even careers. Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat is a compelling theme in all sport.
Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory even more so.
And you never know which one’s in store.
On the face of it, Matthew Hatton should be a straightforward fight for Kell Brook at the weekend but you don’t need me to tell you about a puncher’s chance.
And things can change over the weeks as well as in an instant.
Manchester City’s, mega-millionaires, seven points clear in February, are now a point behind in March. Who knows if they will have what it takes to stay the distance over the next ten games.
Charlton Athletic, flying away with League One and no-one to touch them, but suddenly two defeats means that Wednesday and United have them back in their sights. Then there’s Huddersfield who went from invincible to culpable in three games.
We all like to think we can predict and understand the rhythms and undercurrents but we’re never quite sure what’s coming next.
That’s one of the reasons the whole world is in love with sport.
But, as uncertain as each fight, game and race may be, you can be sure of this.
If it is possible for her to be so, Jessica Ennis is a stronger person today than she was before those cruel moments of victory in vain on Friday and just that little bit closer to Olympic gold.
On another and unrelated matter did I see a rugby union international diving at the weekend?
I don’t mean diving into tackles you’d expect that. I mean diving like an effete footballer looking for a free kick.
Ireland’s Keith Earls was ‘taken out’ by Max Evans earning the Scotsman a, yellow card after Evans had unfairly bumped into him as he kicked the ball into the corner to run on to.
For a strapping rugby player with muscles, grit and power he went down remarkably like one of those dreadful soccer fellows looking for a foul.
He got one and got his opponent sent off.
If they’re not careful it’ll catch on.