By Mike Rowbottom at the Olympic Stadium in London

Mike RowbottomIn the space of less than an hour here the host nation won three – yes, three – of the five track and field gold medals on offer through Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, Mo Farah in the 10,000 metres and, rather more unexpectedly, Greg Rutherford in the long jump.

The athletes thus achieved the hat-trick that had so narrowly eluded Britain's rowers earlier in the day as they had to settle for two golds and a silver.

"For Britain to win three gold medals on one night was absolutely unbelievable," said Ennis. "And we have still got a lot of really good medal prospects still to go. I think it will definitely, or hopefully, lift the next generation. I think it's going to have an effect for many years."

Farah, meanwhile, paid tribute to the massive input of a partisan home crowd on his performance.

"When I came into the stadium there were so many people cheering for me and shouting out 'Go Mo!' I was really buzzing. It was like someone had given me 10 cups of coffee," he said afterwards, his smile dazzling in the lights. "From that point I knew, somehow, that I had to do something. I was pumped up so much."

Heady times indeed for British Olympic sports. UK's head coach Charles van Commenee must feel all his daydreams have come true.

Jessica Ennis_and_flag_4_AugustBritain's poster girl shows off the "Jessica Ennis, Olympic champion, London 2012" flag

As Ennis sank to the track after a fourth personal best in her seven events had secured her the home gold which has been most eagerly expected for at least a couple of years since she won the 2009 world title, she was momentarily reminiscent of Australia's Cathy Freeman, who had carried the hopes of her nation into the Sydney Games of 2000 and sunk into an almost trance-like state when she eventually delivered the 400m gold.

While the form of Britain's Beijing 400m winner Christine Ohuruogu has flickered and wavered, diminished by persistent injuries, the athlete who lives a short stroll away from the Olympic Stadium became less of a poster girl for the Games as that responsibility – or burden – passed to the young woman from Sheffield.

And, eventually, she made light of it – delivering the first British Olympic gold medal on a home athletics track since the last day of the 1908 London Games, July 25, when Wyndham Halswelle won 400m gold in a race that had been re-run following the judges' ruling that he had been unfairly impeded by an American runner who was subsequently disqualified. The other United States runners boycotted the re-run.

Jessica Ennis_in_heptathlon_800m_4_AugustHeptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis (foreground) en route to victory in the 800 metres

Twelve years after Denise Lewis won the Olympic title for Britain in Sydney, and eight years after Kelly Sotherton's bronze in the Athens Games, Ennis – who missed Beijing with injury – had re-stated Britain's enduring ability in the heptathlon.

A year ago at the World Championships in Daegu Farah had run a little naively in going for broke 500 metres out and was caught near the line by Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan. His performance in the subsequent world 5,000m final was cagier, and entirely successful, and he carried that caution all the way to London as he waited and waited to strike in a slow, tactical race that looked likely to boil over at any point over the final four laps.

As Farah wound up a sprint that had started around the crown of the top bend he had time to raise both arms in the air before wheeling to discover the best possible additional news that his friend and training partner, Galen Rupp, who had watched his back through a race where the Kenyan and Ethiopian battalions had manoeuvred in what often became an edgy and vexatious affair as runners bunched and baulked.

What an extraordinary night for the man who coaches both gold and silver medallists in Oregon, where Farah went last year to take his career yet another step forward, former New York marathon winner Alberto Salazar.

Mo Farah_and_golden_Wenlock_4_AugustMo Farah, the 10,000 metres victor, on his lap of honour with a golden Wenlock

"It was a pretty crazy night out there," said Australia's long jump silver medallist, Mitchell Watt, of an evening where the home hopes had created walls of expectant noise in the stadium. He was right.

In the aftermath of his win, Farah kneeled to pray before standing to celebrate in less profound form with an extended run-out for his "Mo-bot" trademark, with Rupp alongside him doing the same thing.

It rapidly became like This Is Your Life on the track as Farah was joined by his daughter, Rihanna, and wife Tania, who is seven months' pregnant and expecting twins. With the 5,000 metres still to come, that makes two of them.

"Seeing them on the track was the best moment of my life," said Farah. "Just having your family there with you. I told Rihanna to come on a lap of honour with me but she got scared because the crowd was so loud and she said 'I don't want to do it'.

"Winning here in the city where I grew up and went to school is an amazing feeling. I couldn't have done it without all the support. And to see my friend and training partner take the silver was also great."

In a final camera-friendly flourish, a tearful Farah carried a special, golden Wenlock – the Olympic mascot – around a portion of the track on which he had held off the Ethiopian challenge of the defending champion Kenenisa Bekele and his younger brother, Tariku.

Greg Rutherford_1_4_AugustGreg Rutherford savours his triumph in the long jump

As someone remarked, did the organisers have silver and bronze Wenlocks available in the event that results were not ideal for the home nation? Tonight, however, that question simply never came up. It was gold all the way, with the other titles being won by Croatian Sandra Perkovic in the women's discus and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in the women's 100m.

"I'm still in shock," Ennis told the post-event press conference. "It's been a brilliant couple of days. I competed here with a lot of passion and I think a lot of people expected me to win the gold medal here even before I set foot on the track."

She admitted that the emotions of victory had come through as she had stood on the podium.

"It was a case of actually realising that you have achieved one of your main goals," she said. "You never, ever think you are going to get there so when you do it it is overwhelming.

"Obviously you think back to missing Beijing, and having to push hard, and then losing the world title last year.

"I think heptathlon is obviously one of the toughest events, there's a mass of emotions, you have highs and lows, but I was coming here off a personal best performance in Gotzis and I knew I was in the best shape of my life.

"Having the crowd here, they lift you so much. The support has been unbelievable, and starting off in the hurdles so well meant it all kind of rolled into the rest of the events.

"But there was so much pressure on me, and when I saw my family and my fiancée in the crowd during the medal ceremony the emotions came through."

Mo Farah_Mo-bot_celebration_4_AugustMo Farah, displaying his trademark "Mo-bot", celebrates with Greg Rutherford

Having won the world title in 2009, the memory of how she had lost it last year – when she took silver behind Tatyana Chernova in Daegu after underperforming woefully in the javelin – was a major part of her motivation for the Olympic competition.

"The javelin was really important," she said. "It had led me down massively in Daegu so I knew it was a major problem and when I went back home I spent a lot of time working on it with my coach, Mick Hill.

"So when I came here I was confident and I think my performance showed that all the work on my throwing had been really successful."

A personal best by the Briton, and a failure by the world champion to get within 10 metres of her own best, meant Ennis was able to go into the final event with an effective eight seconds margin over the silver medal position held by Austra Skujytė, and 11 seconds over the bronze medal position occupied by Lithuania's Lyudmila Yosypenko. Comforting statistics ahead of the most important race of her life.

Four years earlier, Ennis had flown home early after pulling out of the Gotzis international heptathlon to learn that the reason her ankle hurt her so much was because it had suffered a stress fracture. Her Olympic ambitions in Beijing were over. But fate had a very big consolation in store for her.

Skip forward an Olympiad, and the 26-year-old Sheffield athlete stood inside the centrepiece of the home Games that resounded with patriotic noise in the wake of her landmark success: Britain's 50th athletics gold in the Olympics.

Lewis used to refer to the young Sotherton as "Princess" – with the implication that she was the Queen. Later, Sotherton jocularly referred to the 5ft 5in Ennis as "Tadpole" – a name which did not sit too well on the young rival.

But tadpoles become frogs, and before long Ennis had leapfrogged Sotherton and established herself at the top of the event with a European title, then a world title and two world indoor titles. Her smooth progress towards coronation at the home Games was disrupted, however, by that victory of Chernova's at the 2011 Worlds.

Jessica Ennis_and_Lord_Coe_4_AugustJessica Ennis receives a congratulatory kiss on the podium from Lord Coe

Ennis, who oddly had never competed before in London, had put herself into strong overnight position after recording personal bests in the opening event of the 100m hurdles – where she set a British record of 12.54sec – and the concluding event of the 200m, where she clocked 22.83.

It was a statement of intent which she followed up on day two, where she first negotiated the long jump without alarm. "I've had a lot of no jumps this year and I kept thinking 'Am I going to throw it away doing three no jumps?'" she reflected as she prepared for the eight-hour wait for the biggest race of her life. "It is a massive relief to have got that right."

The majority of those in the 80,000 crowd were desperately hoping there would be no fly in the anointment as Ennis arrived for her 800m race.

The storm of noise which greeted her as she lined up was acknowledged in limited fashion with a quick wave. There was important business still to be concluded, and her face, carefully made up, was a picture of composure.

Her decision to move decisively into the lead made it clear that she intended to finish with a flourish rather than sidling in. She led to the bell, and the noise grew more intense than ever. Only a fall, God forbid, could stop her now...

Moving out into lane two, she came through to finish the job, claiming both gold and a new overall personal best of 6,955 points.

Unlike Kelly Holmes as she had broken through to win her first of two golds at the Athens 2004 Games, there was no disbelief in Ennis' face at the finish. She knew she had won, and had enough time and space to acknowledge it by raising both arms in triumph.

Soon the tears and incredulity came. As she stood for the photographers with her pre-prepared Union Flag announcing her victory – "Jessica Ennis, Olympic champion, London 2012" – spread out behind her it seemed her face would simply burst with emotion.

In collecting the flag she had tried in vain to bridge the gap between the infield and the stands to take the outstretched hand of her long-time coach, Tony Minichiello. They couldn't reach – but it didn't matter. The important connections had been made long ago.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames.