The 2018 Commonwealth Games opened with a bang. Literally. From fireworks, music and dancing to Migaloo, blimps and much more if the GC 2018 Opening Ceremony was any indication, the Commonwealth is in for quite the show over the next two weeks.
Day One’s program included; artistic gymnastics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling (track), hockey, lawn bowls, netball, squash, swimming, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting.
And what a display of sport it was.
The First Medal
Flora Duffy claimed the first gold medal of GC2018 at Southport Broadwater Parklands in the Women’s Triathlon. She finished in a time of 56 minutes and 50 seconds, only 43 seconds in front of English Jessica Learmonth and 48 seconds in front of Canadian Joana Brown. Duffy also went down in history as the first female Bermudian Commonwealth Games gold medalist. “I came in the favourite, so that adds its own pressure. For me it was personal, I wanted to do well…” Duffy said.
South Africa’s First Triathlon Gold
Henri Schoeman claimed victory in the men’s Triathlon and became the first ever South African to win a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games.
Australia’s First Medal
Tasmanian triathlete Jake Birtwhistle narrowly missed out on gold yesterday (by 7 seconds!) but his background as a champion Australian junior middle-distance runner, helped him bring it home in the run leg to secure the first medal of the games for Australia. “I am really happy to finish up with a silver today. It feels amazing.” He said in an interview. He then thanked the huge support of the Aussie crowd, stating that they were immensely valuable.
The Future of Swimming Steal The Show
The first events of swimming stole to show yesterday, with a battle of swimming’s superstar 17-year-olds. In a nail-biting 200m freestyle final, Canada’s Taylor Ruck held off a fast finishing Ariarne Titmus of Australia. "I saw Ariarne (Titmus) coming up and I thought she'd won," Ruck said. "Going through my head I thought I just had to keep my head down and try not to breathe because I thought I saw Ariarne coming up really fast and I was thinking, just go as fast as I can. In the last 25m I took two breaths." We are excited to see what both these girls could achieve at future Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Medals in The Velodrome
Beating England in the final and breaking the world record in the process, our men’s team pursuit took out the gold medal. Our Aussies in the velodrome didn’t stop there though, with the women’s 4,000m team pursuit also claiming gold over New Zealand in the finals. The A team; Ashlee Akudinoff, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson and Alexandra Manly also broke the Commonwealth Games record in their win with a time of 4:15.214. The gold medals continued to flow on the cycling track with the pair of Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton beating New Zealand in the women’s team sprint.
Out of the Games
Our resident golden girl of the track, Sally Pearson officially withdrew from the Games due to an Achilles injury, but has vowed not to quit athletics. "I did everything I possibly could do get out and race for Australia," Pearson said. "I was full of confidence warming up (for training two days ago). I went into a hurdles drills and couldn't do it. These injuries can spike very quickly. It was unfortunate the timing was now but my health comes first.”
Our Golden Girls
The favourites going into the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay were our Aussie girls and they sure didn’t disappoint. To end Day 1, lead-off swimmer Shayna Jack powered through her leg and was followed by Bronte Campbell, who established a body-length lead over the rest of the field. The third leg was up to Emma McKeon who managed to further their lead to two body-lengths, before changing over to 100m freestyle world record holder Cate Campbell. Cate showed she was back, powering home to stop the clock at 3.05 minutes, smashing the previous record by 0.6 seconds.
Chad Le Clos is moving closer to Commonwealth Games history with another gold medal, whilst the gymnastics finals went down to the wire in both the men’s and women’s competitions. The para and mixed triathlons were filled with shock and India’s weightlifting gold rush continued on Day 3.
Le Clos Dominates the Commonwealth Pools
South African swimmer, Chad Le Clos claimed another gold medal in the 200m butterfly for the third consecutive Commonwealth Games. The gold was Le Clos’ 16th medal at a Commonwealth Games, making him the second most successful athlete, ever, at a Commonwealth Games. "I wanted to get the three - 2010, 2014, 2018,” he said. "No one has done the triple before so I feel like the Michael Phelps of the Commonwealth (Games) - I'm happy. Tonight was all about history, it was all about business. I had to get in, get the job done, and come out as unscathed as possible." With more events yet to come at the GC Games, Le Clos is still on target to win more medals during the games.
Seebohm & Masse Rivalry Continues
In a heart-stopping 100m backstroke final, Canadian Kylie Masse pipped Australian Emily Seebohm by just 0.03 seconds for gold. Seebohm led the entire race and looked set to win her third consecutive 100m Commonwealth title, before being beaten at the touch. "I know she always goes out quite fast,” Masse said of Seebohm. “I knew she was going to be right there. We were going to be there together. I had no idea how close she was at the end until I got out of the pool and I looked up at the times. She's an incredible swimmer."
England Dominance in the Gymnastics
Nile Wilson of England claimed England’s third consecutive Commonwealth Games men’s individual all-around gymnastics gold with a total score of 84.950 points. On the very last apparatus, only 0.25 points separated the top-three gymnasts heading into the horizontal bar. At this stage, Wilson’s teammate James Hall led the standings, with Wilso and Rio 2016 finalist Marios Georgiou both in second place. First up on the last apparatus was Georgiou, but after a good routine and an all-around total of 83.750, he was quickly outsourced by Hall (83.975).
Canada’s First Gymnastic Commonwealth Gold Since 2002
Elsabeth Black claimed Canada’s first women’s all-around Commonwealth gold medal since Kate Richardson in 2002, by just 0.4 of a point ahead of Australian Georgia Godwin. "I just wanted to show what Canadian gymnastics is all about,” Black said. “I still had some mistakes, but it's a big step up from last time (coming fourth in the all-around at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games)."
Australia Dominates the Triathlon
Our Aussies continued to dominate the triathlon scene and took home the gold in the mixed team relay. Ashleigh gentle led her country to victory with an outstanding performance in her leg of the triathlon, making up a 15 second deficit on the bike leg before pulling away to beat England by 52 seconds. Already a silver medalist in these games, Jake Birtwhistle had the honour of crossing the finish line to claim the gold medal in a combined time of 1:17.36.
Weightlifting Gold Rush
India claimed yet another gold medal in the weightlifting. Sathish Kumar Sivalingam won the gold medal in the men’s 77kg division. It was India’s third goal in weightlifting and fifth medal overall from the weightlifting program.
McCulloch Does it Again
Australian Kaarle McCulloch claims another gold in the Anna Meares Velodrome. In the race that made Meares a household name, it was fitting that a fellow Aussie would take home the gold in the 500m time trial. Australia’s Stephanie Morton claimed the silver and New Zealand’s Emma Cumming took bronze.
The records are still being broken, and history is still being made on another medal-filled day of competition at GC2018, with 33 gold medals claimed.
History Made at Carrara Stadium
In the women’s 100m final, Michelle-Lee Ahye became the first woman from Trinidad and Tobago to win 100m Commonwealth games gold and the nation’s first gold medallist since Ato Bolden won the men’s 100m race in 1998.
In the men’s 100m final today, Akani Simbine won gold in a time of 10:03 seconds. Marking the first time in 20 years that an athlete from a Caribbean country has not held the title of the Commonwealth’s fastest man. He was closely followed by Henricho Bruintijies, also from South Africa (silver) and bronze was claimed by Yohan Blake, the favourite to win the race.
Also on the track, Australian Evan O’Hanlon won gold in the men’s T38 100m final in 11.09 seconds, falling after he crossed the finish. "I think I overstepped my ability a little bit there and ended up on the ground," he said.
Cook Islands into the Record Books
The Cook Islands has won its first medal in Commonwealth games history when Aidan Zittersteijn and Taiki Paniani won bronze in the Lawn Bowls men’s pairs competiton. All it took was a little mojo. “We started off good then we really got our rhythm – we call it mojo – and we were set. We played well,” he said.
Another drought was broken in Lawn Bowls when the Australian team won the women’s fours in a 18-16 victory against South Africa, finally claiming the gold after 12 years.
Weightlifting Wraps Up in Dramatic Fashion
Throughout the games, the weightlifting competition has been full of drama and the final day was no different. New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard was the favourite heading into the women’s 90kg + competition but had to withdraw after injuring her arm on the final snatch. Despite her disappointment, Hubbard said she had no regrets about her performance at the games.
Fiji claimed gold with their 18-year-old superstar Eileen Cikamatana in the women’s 90kg category and in the women’s 90kg +. Sanele Mao of Samoa lifted a personal best of 360kg to claim gold over the Indian favourite Pardeep Sign in the men’s 105kg class.
Another Golden Night for The Aussies
Yet again, the Australian Dolphins have impressed us all winning four of the nine gold medals up for grabs. Mitch Larkin became the first backstroke to complete the 50/100/200m treble when he won the 200m backstroke final. It was a clean sweep as fellow dolphins Bradley Woodward and Josh beaver claimed silver and bronze.
The young superstar of the pool, Ariarne Titmus won her first individual gold in the 800m final. Once again, the Aussies got a clean sweep with Jessica Ashwood taking silver and Kiah Melverton taking bronze.
After finishing second to sister Cate in the 50m freestyle on Saturday, Bronte Campbell joked that it would be nice if the roles were reversed occasionally, and tonight it happened! Bronte Campbell beat her sister Cate to the wall for gold in the 100m with 17-year-old Canadian Taylor Ruck close behind the sisters claiming bronze. Ruck, another young swimming sensation to keep an eye on as she has won a medal in every event she has competed in so far.
Adding to the Aussie’s golden night, Matthew Levy took home gold in the men’s S7 50m freestyle final.
South African Chad le Clos completed his own version of a clean sweep in the men’s butterfly events, overtaking our Susie O’Neill, to become the most decorated athlete in Commonwealth Games History.
Vanuatu is Launched into the History Books
Vanuatu’s Friana Kwevira won bronze in the women’s F46 javelin throw, securing her country’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal.
The action in the pool and on the track was where it was at, medal-wise, with nine swimming gold and eight athletics gold up for grabs. Australians smashing the medal tally once again to gain a clear lead, whilst Nigeria made a clean sweep of Para Powerlifting gold.
Nigeria’s Clean Sweep
Nigeria dominated the Para Powerlifting competition, with a gold medal win in all four disciplines. Roland Ezuruike claimed gold in the men’s lightweight final with 224.3 points, whilst fellow Nigerian Paul Kehinde picked up silver and English Ali Jawad took home the bronze.
Esther Oyema claimed gold in the women’s lightweight final and broke the world record score with a lift of 141.6 points. Compatriot Lucy Ejike claimed silver with 134.1 points and England’s Zoe Newson took home bronze with 106.1 points.
Ndidi Nwosu secured gold in the women’s heavyweight final with her score of 110.4 and Abdulazeez Ibrahim finished his nation’s gold overhaul in the event winning the heavyweight final with 191.9 points.
Surprise Gold for Grenada
Lindon Victor became Grenada’s second gold medallist at a Commonwealth Games with a surprise win in the men’s decathlon. He benefited from his strong discus and javelin throws, and the withdrawal of defending champion Canada’s Damian Warner to win with 8303 points.
In his last T34 1500m event, GC2018 Ambassador Kurt Fearnley was devasted when he was edged away from the gold medal by less than two-tenths of a second. Wheelchair racer Alexandre Dupont of Canada was like a rocket from the back of the field with 500m to go, taking the lead to win Canada’s first gold medal in the athletics program. Speaking to media after the race, Fearnley took the opportunity to remind fans what the Commonwealth Games is all about.
“I think that tomorrow maybe we can go back to work and speak to your co-workers about getting more people with disabilities in there or your education facilities or public transport,” he said.
“We are doing it as a team, Australian team, Commonwealth Games, we are getting people with all experiences of life and celebrating it.
“There’s a lot of people with disabilities out there that haven’t been given the privileges that I have. This right here is a success. Let’s remind ourselves of that and what the real purpose is.”
What a day. We have now pushed past England to claim 1st on the Medal Tally, with a total of 36 medals. On the second day of competition we won nine gold, five silver and seven bronze for a total of 21 medals.
Upset at the Weights
Welsh weightlifter Gareth Evans caused massive upset in the men’s 69kg class on Friday, with consistent lifting, forcing his rivals to take risks and change strategies. Opening with a snatch of 130kg, Evans sent his competitors scrambling and ultimately finished with six successful lifts out of six, totaling 299kg which earned him gold.
The Fittest Woman on Earth
Tia-Clair Toomey, also known as the fittest woman on earth is now a Commonwealth Games champion after a victory in the women’s 58kg weightlifting category. The Australian claimed gold in the last lift, a 114kg clean and jerk, winning by just 1kg over Canadian Tali Darsigny who claimed silver. “This gold medals means more than just a gold medal. My family, my team, my husband, we’ve trained so hard for this, it is a dream come true,” Toomey told Channel 7. “I didn’t know exactly how much was on the bar, before the crowd was so electric, I was really in the zone and to be able to do it in front of the home crowd was beyond words, it was simply incredible. Knowing my family were there and teammates, it was incredible memory I’ll cherish forever.”
Games Records Obliterated
Another rivalry has been formed between Australia’s Emily Seebohm and Canada’s Kylie Masse as they both broke the Commonwealth Games record in their heat swims in the women’s 100m backstroke. Seebohm broke her standing games record time of 59.37 which she set in Glasgow, touching the wall in 58.91 seconds. However, just minutes later, Masse went even faster finishing in just 58.70 seconds.
Our very own, home grown Kyle Chalmers took out gold in the men’s 200m freestyle on Friday, beating a star-studded line up which included Chad Le Clos, Rio 2016 Olympic Silver medalist. Le Clos lead the field for the first half of the race before he was overtaken by the majority of the field, including Chalmers who touched first with a personal-best time of 1:45.56. He was closely followed by fellow Australian Mack Horton (1:45.89) who claimed silver and Scotland’s Duncan Scott who took home bronze (1:46.30).
No to be over shadowed by the boys in the pool, our girls got a clean sweep in the women’s 100m butterfly, with Emma McKeon winning gold in a new Commonwealth Games record time of 56.78 seconds. She lead the race the entire time closely followed by Madeline Groves who won the silver in 57.19 whilst Brianna Throssell claimed the bronze in 57.30.
Netball and Hockey showcased upset wins, whilst Australia broke numerous records on both the track and in the pool. Nick Miller showed everyone why he’s England’s favourite strongman and there was an on-court engagement.
Malawi is currently celebrating a major GC2018 upset, making history to register as the nation’s first ever win against New Zealand. The Malawi Queens’ 57-53 victory was their first success against two-time Commonwealth Champions New Zealand in 10 attempts. The result puts New Zealand at risk of failing to make the semifinals. "We have beaten the untouchables," said coach Whyte Mulilima.
Another major upset occurred when India’s women’s hockey team beat world number two, England with a 2-1 victory. With many of the Indian team making their Commonwealth Games debut, there could be some anxious moments for the English team before the semifinalists are announced. "This is the first time we beat England, so we are very happy," India's captain Rani said.
English Nick Miller claimed gold in the men’s hammer throw with a Games and National record of 80.26m. Only a silver medalist in Glasgow 2014, the Englishman dominated the competition with this third-round effort of 76.84m, before improving in his fourth round. Our Australian Matty Denny got off to a rough start, with two fouls before he took silver with a personal best of 74.88m. Scottish Mark Dry earned a bronze medal with a sixth-round effort of 73.12m.
Our Aussie Know How to Start a Day
Australian walkers Dane Bird-Smith and Jemima Montag opened the day and the athletics program with double gold in their 20km races. Although Montag’s victory should have been sweet, her win came with heartbreak for teammate Claire Tallent who was disqualified while leading with only two kilometres to go. "I was just saying, 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry' but Claire said, 'No, don't say that. Enjoy this moment. This is your moment,'" said Montag.
English Engagement Celebrations
England’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both celebrate on-court wins on day four. However, two players had even more reason to celebrate with Jamell Anderson dropping to one knee after his team’s victory against Cameroon. "I had absolutely no idea," Jones said. "He told me I was just getting a picture taken."
Two is Better than One
Seychelles 17 year old breaststroker Samuele Rossi set two national records in less than two hours. In the morning 50m breaststroke heat, he set a new national record of 29.82 seconds, touching the wall first in front of Zambia’s Alexandros Axiotis. In a rare chance, the school student then got called back to the blocks to compete in a two-man swim off, where he shaved .41 seconds to lower his national record 29.41.