By Nicola Kenton and Neil Leverett
- England’s Jack Laugher defends 1m springboard title, as James Heatly of Scotland secures bronze
- Scotland’s David McMath wins gold in the men’s double trap, as Tim Kneale seals silver for the Isle of Man
- XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia run until April 15
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – Jack Laugher retains Commonwealth diving crown, whilst David McMath wins shooting gold as the highlights for the Brits on Day 7 in Australia.
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Laugher defends 1m title
Olympic champion Jack Laugher defended his 1m springboard title that he won in Glasgow. The English diver won by over 25 points to secure his third Commonwealth title. Laugher had qualified for the final in first position and even though it is not his favoured event, he was well ahead of the rest of the field. The Leeds athlete led the final from start to finish producing a solid programme of six dives which all scored over seventy points.
Australia’s James Connor claimed the silver medal after an excellent fifth round dive moved him up the standings. Scotland’s James Heatly finished in third to win the bronze and the first Commonwealth diving medallist for Scotland since his grandfather Sir Peter Heatly won gold at the 1958 Games. Leeds athlete, Yona Knight-Wisdom of Jamaica ended the competition in fourth with brothers Ross and Jack Haslam of England in seventh and tenth. The youngest athlete in the field, Scotland’s Lucas Thomson, ended his first Commonwealth final in twelfth.
Earlier in the day, English duo Alicia Blagg and Katherine Torrance secured the silver medal in the synchronised 3m springboard final. They finished behind Australian pair Esther Qin and Georgia Sheehan who won the gold by seven points over the English pair, who had limited training time before the Games began.
McMath secures Scotland’s seventh gold
David McMath emphatically won gold in the men’s double trap final, as he shot a Commonwealth Games record total of 74. The 21-year-old had qualified in first place for the final and shot four more targets than the athlete in second – Tim Kneale of the Isle of Man – to secure Scotland’s seventh gold. Kneale’s silver medal was the first medal of the 2018 Games for the Manx island, while India’s Ankur Mittal claimed the bronze ahead of her compatriot Ashab Mohid.
Scotland’s Linda Pearson came third in the women’s double trap finals, hitting one more target than India’s Varsha Varman to secure the bronze medal. Pearson admitted after the final that this will likely be her final competition, as shooting will not be on the programme at Birmingham 2022.
The Scottish duo helped the home nation reach their highest medal total ever at an away Commonwealth Games. They will now be looking to see how close they can get to the highest ever total of 53 won in Glasgow.
Hughes, Asher-Smith into 200m finals
With the swimming finals over, the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast assumed centre stage in the Australian evening. The 200m of both the men’s and womens was the highlight of Day 7, as England’s strong medal hopes in both Zharnel Hughes in the men’s race and Dina Asher-Smith in the women’s, made impressive progress into Thursday’s final.
Hughes qualified second-fastest for his respective final coasting to victory in his semi-final in a time of 20.37, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Kyle Greaux.
Anguillan-born Hughes, 22, who has trained with the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake of Jamaica has begun to show the same promise that saw the then 20-year-old finish 5th in at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015.
Hughes ran the bend with composure and power and looks good for a medal, but will be eyeing the Commonwealth title on Thursday. His main rivals will be Canadian Aaron Brown who finished fastest in qualifiying, Greaux’s team-mate Jereem Richards, South African Clarence Munyai – who along with Richards are the only two men in the Commonwealth to have ran sub-20 seconds this season – and a potential surprise package in Northern Ireland’s Birchfield Harrier Leon Reid.
Asher-Smith meanwhile ran the fourth-fastest time into the final, finishing behind Jamaican Shericka Jackson who ran a PB of 22.28, as the Briton clocked 22.44.
The Bromley athlete will need to be at her very best to medal on Thursday however, with defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who won bronze at the worlds’ in London last August. Though both ran slower than the Briton, both ladies are fierce competitors at the business end of competition.
Bronze medalist in Glasgow four years ago, Bianca Williams of England scraped into the final also as a fastest loser, running the eighth-fastest time, but like Asher-Smith will need a stunning run to retain her place on the podium down under.
Home nations guarantee Boxing medals
In the boxing at the Gold Coast Oxenford Studios, all four competitors to reach the semi-finals of their category win a medal with the losing semi-finalists both claiming bronze. There has been success for all the home nations as many of the boxers have reached that stage of the competition.
Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara won her semi-final in the 45-48kg category to guarantee herself at least a silver medal. In the women’s 60kg, England’s Paige Murney won her quarter-final to guarantee at least a bronze medal. Similarly, Scotland’s Reece McFadden and Brendan Irvine of Northern Ireland reach the semi-finals in the men’s 52kg.
Steven Donnelly of Northern Ireland and Scotland’s John Docherty both reached the semi-finals in the 75kg, while England and Northern Ireland are represent in the women’s 51kg by Lisa Whiteside and Carly McNaul. In the women’s 69kg, the final will be contested between Rosie Eccles of Wales and England’s Sandy Ryan. The final quarter-finals of the day saw James McGivern of Northern Ireland and Wales’ Michael McDonagh reach the semi-finals of the 60kg. Sammy Lee of Wales also reached the semi-finals of the men’s 81kg.
Semi-final berths for England in the Hockey and Netball
In the past few days, the home nations have been trying to secure semi-final places in team sports such as hockey and netball. England have had a flawless netball competition and that continued today, as they beat New Zealand for the first time at the Commonwealth Games. This meant that England topped their pool and secured a semi-final against Jamaica, while New Zealand will play Australia.
On the Gold Coast hockey pitch, England’s men and women will both take part in the semi-finals but it was not a perfect competition for either team. The women won their matches against South Africa and Wales, they then unexpectedly lost against India but triumphed against Malaysia to secure their semi-final place. While the men claimed victory over Malaysia and Wales, drew against Pakistan and lost to India.
The women’s semi-final takes place tomorrow and will see England play against New Zealand for a chance to reach the gold-medal match. England’s men have a tougher semi-final as they will play the host nation on Friday, in a rematch of the Glasgow semi-final, to secure a place in the final.
The XXI Commonwealth Games continue on Thursday and run until Sunday 15 April, on the Gold Coast in Australia.
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