By Neil Leverett and Nicola Kenton
- England’s Ben Proud defends 50m freestyle title, as relay quartet nosed out for gold by Australia
- Sophie Hitchon and Andrew Pozzi suffer disappointment once more in hammer and hurdles
- XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia run until April 15
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – Ben Proud retains Commonwealth 50m freestyle crown, as England are pipped to defending their own title in the men’s 4x100m medley relay on the final evening in the pool.
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Proud holds nerve to retain freestyle crown
England’s Ben Proud put aside disappointment on day one of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, defending his title in the men’s 50m freestyle final at the Optus Aquatics Centre.
The 23-year-old Londoner firmly buried memories of the opening day in the pool after being disqualified in the heats of the 50m butterfly, by beating the rest of the field by almost half a second over Brad Tandy of South Africa and Australian Cameron McEvoy in a winning time of 21.35.
In the men’s 200m IM, Scotland’s Duncan Scott narrowly missed out on a second individual title producing a sterling final length to catch Australian duo Clyde Lewis and come within .21 of a second of Mitch Larkin, taking silver in a closely-fought race.
Wales’ Dan Jervis also took silver in the 1500m freesstyle beating veteran Mack Horton to second, as the latter’s team-mate Jack McLoughlin held on for yet another individual Aussie gold.
Relay quartet nosed out by Australia
In the final race of what has been a spectacular meet in the Gold Coast pool, the men’s 4x100m medley relay brought the curtain down on competition.
Pre-race it was expected to be a straight one-two fight between the hosts and defending champions England for the final gold and so it proved to be – indeed far closer than many had predicted.
With the quartet of Luke Greenback, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Proud – who had won gold only an hour earlier – hopes were high of pushing the hosts all the way.
After newcomer Greenback was left trailing off the storming men in the yellow caps on the backstroke leg, Peaty then swam an incredible second to catch an then overhaul the leader to give Guy a slender advantage. Guy then extended the English lead to give Proud a half-second lead over Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers.
With Proud the dominant swimmer over one length of the pool, over an extra 50 metres it was always set to be a massive task. With 25 to go however, Proud was clinging on to the lead, but as Chalmers was roared on by a vociferous home crowd, the gold-medalist in Rio clawed and ate into Proud’s lead and got the touch just nine-one-hundredths-of-a-second ahead of his opponent.
It was agonizing for the English four, but having taken the United States to the brink in the same relay in Brazil to Olympic silver, the golden goal of Tokyo in 2020 is becoming a very realistic aim.
Earlier in the womens 4x100m Wales took bronze ahead of England as Georgia Davies, Chloe Tutton, Alys Thomas and Kathryn Greenslade finished third ahead of Australia and Canada.
Bronte Campbell and Taylor Ruck put on a grandstand finish on the final leg as the former snatched gold for the Australians – what would be their ninth out of ten on the final evening of the meet.
Hitchon, Pozzi suffer further disappointment
At the Carrara Stadium, there was double disappointment for England, as both Sophie Hitchon and Andrew Pozzi finished outside of the medal reckoning with both strong contenders for Commonwealth gold.
In the women’s hammer in wet conditions in the stadium also, the athletes struggled with what was a narrow release point from the cage. Like many of the competitors, Hitchon failed to get a come to terms and threw two fouls to open her account.
The 26-year-old from Burnley who took bronze in Rio two years ago, but was hugely disappointed not to finish with silverware at the World Championships in London last August, then needed to just hit make a clean throw to continue in the competition.
As Hitchon stepped up to the circle, she cautiously rotated and released but crashed the hammer high into the netting and had again disappointingly suffered final woe.
Home nations’ double lock-out in shooting
Time Trial medals for Tanfield and Simmonds
Trio of medals for England’s powerlifters
The XXI Commonwealth Games continue on Wednesday and run until Sunday 15 April, on the Gold Coast, Australia.
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