Ariarne Titmus, Sam Short and the women’s 4x100m relay medley team picked up yet more gold for Australia as the Commonwealth Games swimming competition came to a close in Birmingham. A hugely successful campaign in the pool ended with the triple triumph on Thursday morning AEST to bring Australia’s golden tally to 25 by the final reckoning.
Titmus claimed victory in the women’s 400m freestyle – the 21-year-old’s seventh Commonwealth gold, in addition to two Olympic golds and two world titles – after edging out emerging 15-year-old Canadian star Summer McIntosh, with Australia’s Kiah Melverton claiming bronze.
McIntosh had announced herself a star of the future at the world championships in Budapest and won the 200m and 400m individual medleys at this meet. A night after winning the 800m freestyle, Titmus – who defeated American champion Katie Ledecky in the event at the Tokyo Olympics – recorded a time of 3:58.06 to beat McIntosh by just over one second. She also won the 200m freestyle to complete a rare triple success.
“Australia really prides itself on success in the pool at Commonwealth Games,” Titmus said. “And potentially there’s more pressure to win here than at the Olympics sometimes because we’re so dominant.”
Her latest success followed Short’s sensational swim to claim the 1500m freestyle gold medal and continue Australia’s rich tradition in the endurance race. The 18-year-old won a thrilling contest in 14:48.54, just over three seconds in front of Daniel Wiffen from Northern Ireland, with England’s Luke Turley third.
In the final events of the swimming competition, the women’s 4x100m relay medley team beat Canada, with England claiming bronze, to give Emma McKeon her sixth gold medal of these Games, but there was disappointment for the men’s team, who were pipped by England as Kyle Chalmers touched for silver.
100m freestyle heroine Mollie O’Callaghan gave Canadian world champion Kylie Masse a scare in the 50m backstroke when beaten by just 0.16 seconds. Maase, a four-time Olympic medallist, rallied late to win in 27.31 seconds with Kaylee McKeown continuing her superb meet to claim the bronze.
After being eliminated in the quarter-finals in Tokyo by India, Australia have a chance of redemption in a semi-final of the women’s hockey to be held in Birmingham on Friday. The Hockeyroos maintained a perfect record in their pool when defeating Scotland 2-0, while India claimed what was effectively a sudden-death clash against Canada 3-2 to progress.
Also maintaining a perfect record to reach the medal rounds was the Twenty20 women’s cricket team, who remain on course to win gold in the sport’s first Commonwealth Games. The unbeaten Beth Mooney, who scored 70 off 49 balls, and Tahlia McGrath, who was 78 not out off 51 balls, helped Australia to a total 160-2 against Pakistan.
The Australians restricted Pakistan to 116-8 in their 44-run triumph, with McGrath also the best with the ball when taking three wickets. Edgbaston was a sea of Australian green and gold for the match with some hockey players in attendance, much to the delight of bowler Alana King, who took one wicket.
“It’s really nice that we’ve got their support. It is something special to have Team Australia behind us,” she said. “We’re hitting our straps nicely leading into the pointy end of the tournament.”
The Australians will learn their semi-final rival after the clash between England and New Zealand on Thursday.
Paul Burnett, a gold medallist on the Gold Coast four years ago in beach volleyball, and his new partner Chris McHugh qualified for the quarter-finals with their third straight sets win, though they were pushed by Rwanda before winning 21-16, 21-18.
In other action on Wednesday, Zoe Cuthbert became the first Australian to win a medal in mountain biking when finishing second at Cannock Chase Forest, north of Birmingham. The 21-year-old finished 47 seconds behind England’s Evie Campbell but demonstrated she is a star of the future with both her skill on the bike and race composure and awareness.
Australia’s oldest competitor Cheryl Lindfield, 63, has been a hit in the athletes’ village she is staying in, with the women’s rugby sevens team in particular taking a shine to her. Lindfield and her partner Serena Bonnell enjoyed a successful venture to Leamington Spa when claiming the silver medal in the para women’s pairs (B6-B8) lawn bowls.
The Australian combination were eventually outclassed by Scotland when beaten 17-5, making it the nation’s second loss in a final at the venue to the Scots in as many days. “We were the underdogs,” she said. “We’re very happy with that. We’ll wake up tomorrow with a silver … so how good is that?”
Charisma Amoa Tarrant performed well at the weightlifting when claiming a bronze medal in the women’s 87kg class behind England’s Emily Campbell, who set a new Commonwealth mark.
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