South Africa: big night at track, pool at Commonwealth Games
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies on the track and Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos in the pool gave South Africa a night to remember Monday at the Commonwealth Games.
Simbine and Bruintjies had a surprising 1-2 finish in the men’s 100 meters over Jamaican Yohan Blake, the 2011 world champion and hot favorite after posting the quickest time of the season and in the first two rounds on the Gold Coast.
Simbine won in 10.03 seconds, with Bruintjies taking silver in 10.17 and shading Blake by 0.02.
“Being able to run in lane 8-9 with Henricho, and placing first and second with him is amazing — it’s a big thing for South African sprinting and South African sport,” said Simbine, who was a finalist at last year’s world championships and the 2016 Olympics.
At the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, van der Burgh beat world record-holder Adam Peaty to win the 50-meter backstroke gold medal, his third consecutive title in the event.
“Adam and I have a really tough rivalry and he has had the ‘up’ over me in the last couple of years. So to get up on the podium and see my flag up there and hear my national anthem being played, it’s going to be, when I look back on my career, one of my highlights,” he said.
Le Clos won the 100 fly in a games-record 50.65 seconds, sweeping all three butterfly distances on the Gold Coast.
While the night was dominated by some unexpected golds, attention in the day session was on transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard, who withdrew from her weightlifting competition as a gold-medal favorite in the over 90-kilogram division.
The Commonwealth Games Federation had rejected calls from the Australian Weightlifting Federation to have the 40-year-old New Zealander barred from competition, and there were some critics who believed Hubbard should not be allowed because of a perceived physical advantage.
Hubbard competed in weightlifting events as a man until beginning a transition to female aged 35.
The CGF said Hubbard met the eligibility criteria for competition as set out by the international federation and backed its decision to allow her entry. Judging by the loud crowd support when competitors were introduced, it was a popular call.
Hubbard lifted 120 kilograms on her first attempt in the snatch and was well clear of the competition. But, after injuring her left elbow attempting a games record of 132, Hubbard withdrew.
“The crowd was absolutely magnificent — I felt just like a big embrace and I wanted to give them something that reflected the best I could do,” Hubbard said of her decision to risk pushing for a record. “I have no regret ... I believe to be true to sport you really have to try to be the best you can.”
Feagaiga Stowers took the gold, Samoa’s second gold of the day after Sanele Mao won the men’s 105-kilogram.
Here are some other highlights around the games on Monday:
AT THE TRACK: Michelle-Lee Ahye won her first gold medal at a major international meet, celebrating with an air punch as she crossed the 100-meter finish line in 11.14 seconds and relegating Jamaicans Christania Williams (11.21) and Gayon Evans (11.22) to silver and bronze.
The win for Ahye delivered Trinidad and Tobago its first Commonwealth title in the women’s 100 and meant a Jamaican hasn’t won the title since 2006.
KING IS SQUASH QUEEN: Joelle King beat England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 3-2 to become the first New Zealander to win a women’s squash gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
A day after eliminating one of the sport’s veteran superstars, Malaysia’s Nicol David, in the semifinals, King won 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13, 11-8.
It was the 29-year-old King’s third time contesting the women’s singles. Her previous best effort was bronze in Glasgow four years ago.
The men’s final involving the same countries wasn’t as close — James Willstrop of England beat Kiwi Paul Coll 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 in 42 minutes.
TABLE TENNIS GOLD: India beat Nigeria 3-0 to claim the men’s gold medal, following up on the south Asian country’s women’s team gold over Singapore on Sunday. The men’s bronze medal final on Monday was also lopsided, with England beating Singapore 3-0.
GYM STAR: Nile Wilson of England won his third gold medal of the artistic gymnastics competition, finishing first in the horizontal bar on the final day. Wilson had earlier won the individual all-around event and was a member of the gold medal-winning England team.
Wilson’s England teammate Alice Kinsella won gold on the balance beam Monday, while Australians took two other individual apparatus events— Chris Remkes the vault and Alexandra Eade the floor exercise.
Marios Georgiou of Cyprus took gold in the parallel bars final.
DOWNED DRONES: — Queensland state police have issued a warning after four drones were flown into restricted Commonwealth Games zones on Sunday.
One man was referred to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, police said, warning that people found guilty of using drones in restricted airspace could face fines up to 250,000 Australian dollars ($192,000).
“The message from police is clear: the use of drones in the restricted airspace around venues will not be tolerated,” Assistant Commissioner Peter Crawford said.