Australian swim star McKeon, New Zealand cyclists dazzle at Commonwealths
BIRMINGHAM: Emma McKeon needs just one more title to break the record for most Australian Commonwealth Games golds after yet another win in the pooly as New Zealand dominated on the cycling track.
McKeon, 28, swam the anchor leg as Australia won the women’s 4×100 metres relay to put her alongside Ian Thorpe, Susie O’Neill and Leisel Jones on 10 gold medals.
“It’s nice to do that 10th one in a relay,” she told Australia’s Channel 7.
“It’s kind of all a bit of a blur, I guess. It’s been over a long time. I mean my first one was 2014 and I was so young.”
Scotland’s Duncan Scott avenged his Olympic defeat at the hands of his friend Tom Dean.
Scott beat England’s Dean in a thrilling men’s 200m freestyle duel, pulling away from the Olympic champion in the final 50m to win in a time of 1min 45.02sec.
The 25-year-old returned to the pool to take bronze in the 400m individual medley behind New Zealand gold medallist Lewis Clareburt, who won in a time of 4:08.70.
South Africa’s Lara van Niekerk won the women’s 50m freestyle while compatriot Pieter Coetze triumphed in the men’s 100m backstroke.
New Zealand dominated the track cycling events at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, winning three of the four titles on offer.
Aaron Gate won the men’s 4,000-metre pursuit, with compatriot Tom Sexton taking silver.
Bryony Botha won the women’s 3,000m individual pursuit and Ellesse Andrews took gold in the women’s sprint, beating Canada’s Olympic champion Kelsey Mitchell.
For both Gate and Andrews it was their second gold of the Games.
“My grandma and my grandad love coming to watch racing,” said Andrews. “This is my first elite result in front of them because they weren’t able to come to Tokyo (Olympics).
“To be able to go and give them a big cuddle afterwards, I can’t even explain how special that is.”
Gate and Andrews had waited just 24 hours to add to their gold collection – a blink of an eye compared to the 56 years it has taken a Trinidad and Tobago athlete to stand on top of the track cycling podium.
Nicholas Paul, 23, was the man to end the long wait since Roger Gibbon won two gold medals in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1966, storming home to win the keirin.
“To be able to race in London again, go to my second Commonwealth Games and to earn a gold medal is unbelievable,” he said.
The track athletics does not get under way until Tuesday but the marathons served as an appetiser.
Victor Kiplangat marked himself down as a talent for the future on a bigger stage in delivering Uganda’s first-ever Commonwealth Games marathon gold.
The 22-year-old even overcame a moment of confusion in going the wrong way inside the final mile and still had over a minute to spare over his nearest rival Alphonce Tibu of Tanzania.
“I believe Uganda is proud of me today. We have been waiting for this.” Jessica Stenson has been waiting eight years to be crowned Commonwealth marathon champion and the plucky Australian finally experienced it after two successive bronzes.
The 34-year-old showed few signs of a recent bout of Covid-19 as she came home on her own and said having had a child had changed her perspective on life.
“I am doing this because I can,” she said.
“It’s a privilege. I feel fulfilled anyway and everything here is just a bonus.”
Hosts England, lifted by vociferous home support, won the women’s team gymnastics title to go with their triumph in the men’s event.
But the support was not just for English athletes as Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu found to her surprise as she won the 49kg category for her second successive title.
“Every athlete wants the crowd to back them and roar for them and I was taken aback that there was such a huge Indian presence in Birmingham,” she said.
“They were roaring their lungs out for me, and it pepped me on.”