By Nicola Kenton
- England’s Sarah Vasey wins gold in the 50m breaststroke beating defending champion Leiston Pickett of Australia
- In the velodrome, England’s Charlie Tanfield and Scotland’s Katie Archibald take individual pursuit gold
- XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia run until April 15
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – England’s Sarah Vasey triumphed over double defending Commonwealth champion Leiston Pickett in the women’s 50m breaststroke, as the home nations continue their success on the Gold Coast.
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Vasey and Tai strike gold for England in the pool
Sarah Vasey won England’s first medal in the pool on day two with victory in the 50m breaststroke. Vasey, who is coached by Melanie Marshall and trains with Adam Peaty, only made her international debut last year and had to contend with two-time defending Commonwealth champion Leiston Pickett and Commonwealth record-holder Alia Atkinson of Jamaica.
The Loughborough swimmer posted a swift reaction time and quickly surfaced to get into her stroke. It was Atkinson who led at the halfway mark but Vasey found her rhythm and gained on the Jamaican heading into the final metres as she touched the wall 0.16 seconds ahead of Atkinson to win her first Commonwealth title. Defending champion Pickett picked up a bronze medal, finishing two one-hundredths behind Atkinson.
England’s second gold of the night went to Alice Tai in the S9 100m Backstroke. The 19-year-old previously competed in the S10 class but has been re-categorized. Tai went out at world record pace but could not maintain throughout, finishing one second outside of her best time. However, she still secured gold ahead of Australia’s Ellie Cole and Ashleigh McConnell.
Scott, White and Szaranek also pick up medals in the swimming
The gold medals of Vasey and Tai were not the only success in the pool on day two – four more medals were won in the evening session. In the men’s 200m Freestyle final, Scotland’s Duncan Scott claimed the bronze medal in a stacked event where Australia’s Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton won gold and silver.
Next on the podium was Lewis White in the men’s S9 100m freestyle, who picked up a silver medal for England. After the women’s 400m Individual Medley saw a close race between the home nations, it was the turn of the men and Mark Szaranek to grab a medal. Australia’s Clyde Lewis led from the front, while Szaranek of Scotland made his way through the field to claim a silver after an impressive freestyle leg.
The final event of the day was the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay which saw England, Scotland and Northern Ireland competing for the podium places. Australia won the gold finishing well ahead of the rest of the field, but the race for the podium places was close with England, Scotland and New Zealand all in contention. The final leg of the relay by England’s James Guy saw them finish 0.6 seconds ahead of Scotland who took the bronze.
England’s women claim silver in the gymnastics team final
After the men defended their title yesterday, England’s women were looking to do the same on day two, However, their squad has been depleted in recent months with injuries to 2014 champions Becky Downie and Claudia Fragapane, as well as Ellie Downie and Amy Tinkler.
The young team of Georgia-Mae Fenton, Lucy Stanhope, Alice Kinsella, Kelly Simm and Taeja James managed to secure the silver medal, finishing just 0.425 behind gold medallists Canada. The host nation claimed the bronze medal with Wales in fourth place and Scotland in fifth.
Once again, the team final acted as qualification for the all-around final and individual apparatus event finals. Those who qualified from the home nations for all-around final on day three were: England’s Alice Kinsella and Kelly Simm, Scotland’s Shannon Archer and Cara Kennedy, and the Welsh duo of Latalia Bevan and Maisie Methuen.
The Archibald siblings lead the way in the velodrome
The first medal on the cycling track came as a result of Katie Archibald winning gold in the 3000m Individual Pursuit final. The Scot had posted the fastest time in qualifying, a Commonwealth Games record, to secure her place in the final where she faced Australia’s Rebecca Wiasak. In the gold medal race, the Australian started fast while Archibald stayed on her schedule before overturning the deficit to win the gold medal and her first Commonwealth title by 1.460 seconds.
On the men’s side, the 4000m Individual Pursuit final saw John Archibald – the older of brother of Katie – race against England’s Charlie Tanfield. Tanfield produced a Commonwealth Games record in qualifying, while Archibald just edged ahead of New Zealand’s Dylan Kennett to reach the gold medal match. The final was a close encounter but it was England who came out on top, as the older Archibald hat to settle for the silver.
The final event which had home nation athletes was in the final of the men’s Keirin. England, Scotland and Wales all had competitors entered into the event but it was the Welsh rider of Lewis Oliva and Scotland’s Jack Carlin who made it to the final. With Australia’s defending champion Matt Glaetzer and Malaysia’s world champion Mohd Awang in the race, tactics were a must to try and secure a medal. Glaetzer pulled ahead of the field in the final lap to retain his crown, while Oliva finished fast to grab a silver medal ahead of New Zealand’s Edward Dawkins – Carlin finished in fourth.
Evans wins Wales’ first gold of the 2018 Games
Day two saw Wales win their first gold medal of the Gold Coast games and it came through Gareth Evans, a weightlifter in the men’s -69kg category. Evans made his Commonwealth debut at the Delhi in 2010 and finished fifth at the last Games in 2014.
The 2012 Olympian lifted a total of 299kg, combining a 163kg Clean & Jerk with a 136kg Snatch. The Welshman finished two kilograms ahead of Sri Lanka’s Indika Dissanayake Mudiyanselage and another two ahead of Deepak Lather who picked up the bronze for India.
Speaking to the BBC afterwards, Evans said: “It was hard not to get a bit teary, if I’m being completely honest. Like every Welshman, I’m ridiculously proud. To stand up there with the gold medal is special. I dread to think what’s going on at my mum and dad’s house at the moment. I missed out on a medal in Glasgow and vowed I would never miss a medal again. I have let that spur me on for the past four years. I don’t know what the future holds to be honest, I have done everything I set out to do as a weightlifter.”
The XXI Commonwealth Games continue on Friday and run until Sunday 15 April, in Gold Coast, Australia.
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