Commonwealth Games: Day 3 Finals
18-Mar-2006 Nikki Dryden
Melbourne-Prime Minister John Howard came to watch tonight, but it was Olympic legend Dawn Fraser who got the biggest cheer when she presented the medals to the Aussie women in the 100 free. While the Aussies were golden, the Scots picked up another gold and two silvers, the Kiwis two bronze, and the South African women earned their first swimming medal of the Games.
Men's 200 Back Final
Gregor Tait (SCO), the silver medallist from '02 was back and better than ever, clearing himself of the field to win gold in 1:58.65. The time was a new Games record-breaking that held by Mark Versfeld (CAN). "Thank God for that," said Tait. "It's been a while! I just had to concentrate on what I was doing-I didn't really know where everyone else was." Johannes du Rand (RSA), whose underwater skills were the top of the field, was second in 2:00.32 followed by a fast finishing Cameron Gibson (NZL) in 2:00.72. Gibson snatched the bronze from early leader Nicholas Neckles (BAR) who is competing in his 3rd Games. His time of 2:01.25 was just ahead of Desmond Strelzow (CAN) who touched in 2:01.43.
Women's 100 Free Final
In the most highly anticipated showdown of the Games, it was Libby Lenton (AUS) who rose to the occasion. Out in 25.77 to Jodie Henry's (AUS) 26.16, Lenton fought hard down the entire second lap, just missing her own world record as she touched in 53.54, a new Games record. Henry's 53.78 was also just off her best but the two swims give Lenton and Henry 9 of the top 10 performances of all time in this event. "We knew we were going to get first, second and third," said a confident Henry, "it was just a matter of the order we came."
Alice Mills rounded out the sweep with her 54.31. Erica Morningstar (CAN) broke her own Canadian record to tie for 4th spot with Francesca Halsall (ENG) in 55.40, while Genevieve Saumur (CAN) finished in 7th spot.
Men's 100 Free Semi-Final
Simon Burnett (ENG) looked fantastic as he cruised to victory in the first semi. Well out in front he glided into the wall at 49.19 over Brent Hayden (CAN) in 49.92 and Yannick Lupien (CAN) in 50.18.
Roland Schoeman (RSA) finally looked hot, winning the second heat in 49.34. Out fast in 23.23 he breathed away from the field coming home on the second 50, so as the field closed in him it was unclear whether he was hurting, easing up, or just didn't see them. Regardless, he was certainly saving up something for the 50 fly final later tonight.
Eamon Sullivan (AUS) will have lane 3 tomorrow with his 49.34, while Ryk Neethling (RSA) will take lane 6 with his 49.37. Neethling was the top male on this year's short course world cup circuit, but failed to medal in the 200 free earlier this week. His best 100 free time is 8th on the all-time list at 48.34 to Schoeman's 48.17, Burnett's 48.68 and Hayden's 48.92.
Women's 100 Fly Semi-Final
Libby Lenton (AUS) marched straight from the medal podium to the blocks for the first semi and won in a solid 58.60. Jessicah Schipper (AUS) won the second semi lowering the Games record again to 58.21. "It was a great swim," said Schipper, "I'm really happy with it."
Audrey Lacroix (CAN) lowered the Canadian record for the second time today, getting in at 59.21. "I think I can still be faster," said Lacroix who hadn't gone her best time since 2003 until this morning. "After the race this morning two of my goals were achieved: to go under 1 minute and break the Canadian record. Once they were done, I could just think about being out faster and coming back well." Lacroix wasn't too star-struck with her Aussie competitors. Although she acknowledges that Lenton is 2 seconds faster, she was psyched to be so close. "When I raced Libby Lenton this morning it was pretty cool to be so close to her after the 50 and I just tried to do my best on the second half. I know the Aussies are fast, but I would just like to be as close to them as I can."
Men's 50 Free EAD
Seventeen year old Matthew Cowdrey (AUS) took the gold medal with his 26.06 world record swim in the S9 elite athletes with a disability. His time was -0.08 under the world record. "I love this pool!" said Cowdrey. "It's very fast and it's exciting in front of the crowd, a little tense, but it means everything." In for silver was Benoit Huot (CAN) who was just off his own world record for S10, touching in 24.84 (+0.13). "It's not bad coming second," said Huot. "That was my first race of the week and the 50 is hard to get a good feeling for, I wish I could have started with the 100." In for bronze was Matthew Walker (ENG) in 28.94 for S7 (+0.36).
Women's 200 Breast Final
What a swim by Leisel Jones (AUS). The crowd was going and it looked like the Games might just have its first world record. Jones was under pace the whole way, but fell just off in the last 25 to touch in 2:20.72-a new Games record by almost 5 seconds. In for silver was Kirsty Balfour (SCO) in a time of 2:24.04, which places her 6th on the all-time list. "I'm proud to represent Scotland," said Balfour, "and to take a medal home to the Scottish fans." Bronze went to Suzaan van Biljon (RSA) in 2:25.39. "I'm happy with the time," said van Biljon. "I didn't expect to win a medal, it hasn't kicked in yet!" Both women were well under their personal bests, but the new breaststroke rules that allow for a dolphin kick off the start and turn, will keep these times falling.
Men's 50 Fly Final
Before the crowd could get too excited it was over, and world record holder Roland Schoeman (RSA) had won in 23.34. "I'ts amazing to see what happens in 4 years," said a pumped up Schoeman. "I'm stronger, I'm faster, I'm an animal! At the end of the night, it was just about getting gold."
Matthew Targett (AUS) touched second but was disqualified, which paved the way for Matt Welsh (AUS) to be awarded the silver and for local hero Michael Klim (AUS) to pick up the bronze. Thomas Kindler (CAN) moved up to 4th with a 24.00 behind Welsh's 23.63 and Klim's 23.74. "It was a good swim," said Welsh, "I put it together well." As for Targett, Welsh knows what it's like to be disqualified. "I've been there many times, I can sympathise with him."
Women's 100 Back Final
Hannah McLean (NZL) went out for it, flipping first in 29.67 to Sophie Edington's (AUS) 29.81. But Edington came off the wall moving fast and passed McLean to take the lead. Her long flat stroke looked effortless as she broke the Games record with her win of 1:00.93. "It's amazing here," said the winner. "I concentrated on my own race, and I was happy to come home."
McLean tried to hold on but was passed in the final 15 metres by local favourite Giaan Rooney (AUS) who earned silver in 1:01.42 and Mel Marshall (ENG) who picked up her second bronze of the meet with her 1:01.55. Although Rooney was disappointed with the loss, she now has a medal of every colour in this event, having won it in '98 and earning bronze in '02. Kelly Stefanyshyn (CAN) was 7th.
Men's 100 Breast Final
Christopher Cook (ENG) was just off his semi time, but it didn't matter. He still had enough to win in 1:00.98 followed closely by teammate James Gibson (ENG) in 1:01.10. Gibson looked the best he has all week, and was only passed by Cook in the final few strokes. England almost had a sweep of the medals, but Brenton Rickard (AUS) squeaked in for the bronze, ahead of Darren Mew (ENG) 1:01.17 to 1:01.23. Scott Dickens (CAN) swam another personal best for 5th spot, while Mike Brown (CAN), who is better known for the 200 finished in 7th spot.
Women's 4x200 Free Relay
The Australian women destroyed the Games record, taking the gold in 7:56.68, but it was close for the first half as three other teams battled it out for the silver and bronze. England had the edge most of the way, and with Mel Marshal anchoring, they were able to grab the silver in 8:01.23. On the other side of the pool a real clash emerged between Canadian anchor Brittany Reimer and New Zealander Melissa Ingram. The two were neck and neck coming down the final 50, but Ingram was able to hold onto the lead she had and she out-touched Canada 8:02.20 to 8:02.24 for the bronze.
Men's 4x200 Free Relay
England took the early lead off the first lead out leg by Simon Burnett, but it was all Australia and Scotland on the next two legs and the two teams flipped almost even at the 600. With 200 free champ on the anchor for England, Ross Davenport was able to catch both squads and win the gold in 7:14.14 for England-his split of 1:46.71 is 14th on the all-time list. Scottish anchor, Robert Renwick was able to hold on for silver in 7:14.40 with Australia in the unusual bronze medal position with 7:14.99. Canada's Rick Say tried to battle back posting a 1:47.67, but couldn't reach the Aussies, and finished in 4th spot with a 7:15.82.
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