By Nicola Kenton and Neil Leverett
- Wales’ Alys Thomas wins stunning gold in the 200m fly, as Adam Peaty suffers shock loss in 50m breaststroke
- Gymnasts Nile Wilson and Alice Kinsella win gold on the high bar and the beam, as James Willstrop claims squash gold in his final Commonwealth Games
- XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia run until April 15
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – Wales’ Alys Thomas wins gold in the 200m fly, as Adam Peaty is beaten for the first time in four years and England’s Nile Wilson retains high bar title.
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Wales’ Thomas wins inspired ‘fly gold
Wales’ Alys Thomas won a stirring Commonwealth title in the women’s 200m butterfly ahead of Australian duo Laura Taylor and Emma McKeon at the Optus Aquatics Centre on the Gold Coast. Thomas, 27, wins her first major title having herself only debuted on the world stage at last year’s world championships in Budapest, clocking a new Games record of 2.05.45, almost two seconds ahead of the field.
Despite her relatively senior years, the Welsh swimmer built on her fastest qualifying time from the heats and led from the front and coasted in at the final turn, as Thomas looked on in disbelief having smashed her PB in the pool. With the Europeans coming up in August, Thomas’ sights will turn to Olympic and World champion Mireia Belmonte on Home soil in Glasgow.
Fellow Welsh swimmer, Jazz Carlin was unable to defend her title in the 800m freestyle as she placed sixth in the final. England’s Holly Hibbott finished in the agonising fourth place, as the Australian crowd were treated to another Aussie podium with Ariarne Titmus on the top. However, all is not lost for Carlin as she competes in the 400m freestyle tomorrow – the event on which she has been focussing.
Peaty suffers shock defeat as Van den Burgh defends breaststroke crown
In the men’s 50m breaststroke, England’s Adam Peaty suffered a shock loss to rival Cameron van den Burgh – his first in four years of competition – as the South African clung on to his Commonwealth title from Glasgow. With Peaty the overwhelming favourite to add an 18th major crown, and a fourth Commonwealth gold, the 23-year-old was denied by a gutsy swim from the defending champion leading from the gun to hold off his younger foe by the smallest of margins.
As Van den Burgh again went off strongly from the gun, Peaty who is still in early season for him stormed through in patented style and looked to overhaul the Proteas. Into the final strokes however, the two were neck and neck and as the South African dove for the wall he timed his extended final glide to perfection, edging out Peaty by four-one-hundredths-of-a-second.
James Wilby, also in the red cap, added a bronze to his silver and gold already to complete the colour collection. The loss will be a blow to the Englishman , but with his team set to go in the medley relay – as defending champions – the Uttoxeter man will look to bounce back in swift fashion in the final race of the meet in Australia.
Injured Gemili pulls out of 100m final, as Simbine takes crown; Arnold wins gold
After qualifying through to the 100m final yesterday, there was concern surrounding England’s Adam Gemili as he admitted he was struggling with a thigh injury. Before the athletics session began, the Glasgow silver medallist announced the he had pulled out of race on medical advice. Without Gemili, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake was the favourite which also saw South Africa’s Akani Simbine competing. However, it was the South African who dominated the race and pulled away from the rest of the field to claim the title. Blake stumbled out of his blocks and could never regain the ground lost to the South African, Simbine’s compatriot Henricho Bruintjies came through to claim the silver with Blake having to settle for the bronze.
In the women’s 100m final, Asha Philip was England’s representative but it was not to be as Philip finished fourth – the same place she finished at the Glasgow Games. Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye won the gold medal with Jamaica’s Christania Williams and team-mate Gayon Evans picking up the silver and bronze.
Hollie Arnold of Wales won gold in the F46 javelin having produced a world record in her final throw to triumph. It was a hard-fought battle for Arnold, who was behind New Zealand’s Holly Robinson throughout the contest because Robinson threw a world record 43.32m in the first round. Nevertheless, Arnold remained focussed and threw a stunning 44.43m in the final round to secure the gold medal.
Wilson retains high bar title, as Kinsella claims beam gold
The final day of the artistic gymnastics saw England’s Nile Wilson retain his horizontal (high) bar title from Glasgow. The Leeds gymnast posted the highest score of 14.533 to win by over 0.5 points, team-mate James Hall also picked up a medal winning the joint silver having scored exactly the same as Cory Paterson of Canada.
In the men’s vault, which was the first event of the day, saw the 2018 Rings Champion Courtney Tulloch return to the arena and the Englishman delivered an excellent second vault to secure the silver medal. England also claimed the bronze medal as Dominick Cunningham posted two solid scores to finish 0.1 points ahead of the fourth placed gymnast.
It was a close competition on the men’s parallel bars with Wilson just missing out on another Commonwealth title. Wilson scored exactly the same total as Marios Georgiou of Cyprus, however the Cypriot had a higher execution score and as such won the gold medal. Scotland’s Frank Baines performed an excellent routine, posting the highest execution score of the competition, to claim the bronze medal.
There were more medals on the women’s side as England’s Alice Kinsella won gold on the beam by a margin of over 0.6 points. The combination of a difficult routine performed extremely well worked out for the 17-year-old who won her third medal of the Games and first individual title. Kinsella’s team-mate Kelly Simm also performed well on the tricky apparatus to clinch the bronze medal. The last medal for the home nations in the artistic gymnastics arena went to Latalia Bevan of Wales, who claimed the silver medal in a closely contested floor competition.
Commonwealth glory for Willstrop in his final Games
For squash players, the Commonwealth Games is the only chance to compete at a multi-sport competition. England have always been strong with Nick Matthew leading the charge, but the 2014 Champion could not produce the fairytale finish that he wanted in his final Commonwealth Games. That was left to James Willstrop, who was also competing in his final Games, and the Englishman made it to the final where he played New Zealand’s Paul Coll. Ultimately, it was a relatively simple task for the two-time silver medallist who won in three sets and was in control throughout the whole match.
Speaking after his victory, Willstrop told the BBC: “It just clicked. It was the stuff you dream of. Most brilliant performances in my career, everything works and clicks. That’s happened today. That is one of the best performances. There was no expectation. Everything in the lead-up has to go well and it just did. No illnesses for once, it went smoothly, so I knew it was there.”
It was a different story in the women’s singles where England’s Sarah-Jane Perry was competing in the final against Joelle King of New Zealand. After King went two sets up, Perry clawed her way back to make the contest into a five set thriller but the New Zealander was too strong and won the final set 11-8 to secure the gold medal and leave Perry with the silver; Tesni Evans of Wales completed the podium.
Bronze for England’s weightlifters Campbell and Boxall
Throughout the competition, England have picked up medals in the weightlifting and the final day was no exception. In the men’s 105kg, Owen Boxall of England secured the bronze medal posting a total of 351kg. After the snatch, there were four competitors out front with three including Boxall having snatched 152kg, but it was the clean & jerk that separated the competitors as Sanele Mao of Samoa won the gold medal. India’s Pardeep Singh posted a total of 352kg for the silver with Boxall lifting one kilogram less for the bronze.
In the women’s +90kg, England’s Emily Campbell narrowly missed out on the silver medal by one kilogram. The Englishwoman lifted a total of 242kg to clinch the bronze, as Charisma Amoe-Tarrant of Nauru claimed the silver and Samoa’s Feagaiga Stowers won gold.
The XXI Commonwealth Games continue on Friday and run until Sunday 15 April, in Gold Coast, Australia.
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