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Home advantage: Britain celebrates 'sensational' Olympic medal haul

Alastair Jamieson/NBC News

Londoners Eva Gray and Ryan Church were among the delighted fans of 'Team GB' at the Olympic Stadium in London, Sunday.

Updated at 5:01 p.m. ET: LONDON - Olympic host nation Britain was in euphoric mood Sunday, celebrating an "extraordinary" haul of gold medals that sent the UK media went wild with Games fever.

Two gold medals on Sunday - including Andy Murray's defeat of Roger Federer at Wimbledon - took Britain's collection to 16 at the London Games, putting it third in the overall table behind the United States (28 gold medals) and China (30).

Saturday was Britain's successful Olympic day since 1908, with six golds in the space of one hour: Two in rowing and one at the cycling velodrome quickly followed by a hat-trick of victories in athletics from Jessica Ennis (heptathlon), Greg Rutherford (long jump) and Mo Farah (10,000m).


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"Their extraordinary efforts have brought rapture to streets, parks and living rooms in London and all over the country if not the planet," London mayor Boris Johnson said in a characteristically hyperbolic statement.

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"It has been a remarkable first week and my hearty congratulations go to every single athlete that has taken part," Johnson added.

"They have entertained billions of people around the world and I for one cannot wait to see what they serve up for week two." 

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London Games chief Sebastian Coe, a double Olympic 1,500 champion, said: "I think we've witnessed something sensational. I've never known a night in UK athletics like that, it was unbelievable."

Alastair Jamieson/NBC News

Flying the flag: 'Team GB' supporters (L-R) Chris Elliott and his brothers Patrick, Dan and Nick at the Olympic Stadium in London, Sunday.

It was also a cathartic moment for London, coming almost exactly a year since rioting brought the city's safe hosting of the games into doubt.

"Today, London rose from the ashes," wrote blogger Ronnie Joice on Twitter.

At the Olympic Stadium on Sunday evening, the Union flag and 'Team GB' sports shirts were much in evidence. Eva Gray and Ryan Church, both from London, were sporting imitation gold medals in honor of Saturday night's successes.

Patrick Elliott, who was at the stadium with his three brothers, said: "The roar of the home support must have a lot to do with Britain's success. The noise that was being made when Jessica Ennis was running was incredible."

Carrie Ruddock, a South African living in London, said: "South Africa has also done better than expected - but it's great that Britain has done so well."

Britain's euphoria was reflected in Sunday morning's press coverage. "Britain awakes to an unfamiliar sensation: winning," wrote Jill Lawless of the Associated Press, noting that "a country accustomed to sporting disappointment could scarcely contain its disbelief." 

British newspapers continued the theme, the front page of the Sunday Times describing it as "Our Finest Olympic Hour" alongside a spectacular picture of Rutherford flying through the air in mid-jump.

Alastair Jamieson/NBC News

South Africans Cheryl McGregor (L) and Carrie Ruddock at the Olympic Stadium, Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph had one word for it - "Sensational". The headline ran above photos of all six British gold-medal victors from the second Saturday of the Games.

"That Was Pure Gold" was the Independent's reaction with a sub-heading that read: "One by one we counted them in on another astonishing day of British Olympic success."

BBC via Twitter @suttonnick

The Sunday Telegraph marks Saturday's British medal haul

"Britain's Greatest Day" said the Observer above a picture of a smiling Ennis with a Union Jack draped over her shoulders.

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