At this stage of the tournament, we have 16 teams remaining in the World Cup [the elimination round to determine this year’s Quarter Finalists], eight games in total, with Extra Time, and Penalty shots to be utilised as required, should scores be level at the end of the normal 90 minutes.

  • Argentina;
  • Belgium;
  • Brazil;
  • Colombia;
  • Croatia;
  • Denmark;
  • England;
  • France;
  • Japan;
  • Mexico;
  • Portugal;
  • Russia;
  • Spain;
  • Sweden;
  • Switzerland;
  • Uruguay

Day One occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, 1 July [AEST]

  • France vs Argentina was played at Kaxzan [from 12 am], and proved to be a real goal-scoring spree, in sharp contrast to some of the final group matches, with 7 goals scored between the two teams. In fact, the reporters for news.comn.au described the game as “one of the greatest games ever seen in World Cup history” and “a World Cup classic”. Well I can’t judge the accuracy of that, however, but it certainly provided a much entertaining and exciting 90 minutes of football, which eventually saw the Argentina team eliminated from the competition. At the end, the Argentina champion Messi stood in utter disbelief that another World Cup campaign had come to an end without the ultimate glory.  The final  score was France 4; Argentina 3.
  • The second game featured Uruguay and Portugal [played at 4 am at Sochi]. Another football hero, Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo exited the competition, when Uruguay defeated the European team. ABC News reported that  “Portugal, who won Euro 2016 in France, dominated possession but their attack did not have enough bite to break through the Uruguay defence twice, leaving captain Cristiano Ronaldo a frustrated figure during the entire match. The Real Madrid forward could not add to his four goals in the first two matches, failing to improve his record of failing to score in all six World Cup knockout matches he has played. Ronaldo had an opportunity in the first half to score from a free kick about 30 metres out but could only hit the wall”.
  • Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani scored a stunning brace to lead the South Americans to victory over the European champions to set up a quarter-final match against France. Final score was Uruguay 2, France 1.

Day Two occurred in the early hours of Monday morning, 2 July [AEST]

  • The early match [12 am, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, was between Russia and Spain, and it prove [eventually] to be a good day for the hosts. Again reporting for the ABC here in Australia, we learn that
  • Host team, “Russia has shocked Spain 4-3 on penalties to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals where it will face Croatia. Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’s spot kicks in their first ever penalty shootout to send the hosts through following a turgid 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.  Spain, which has never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament’.  The final score, after the teams could not be separated at 1-1 after extra time, saw Russia win with a superior penalty score of 4-3.
  • The second match featured Croatia and Denmark, played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. This match scored by both teams within the first four minutes, however by the normal 90 minutes, plus extra time, no addition had being made to either score, and a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner was again required. That almost wasn’t necessary! Croatia could have wrapped up the result five minutes from the end of extra-time, with a penalty kick taken by Croatia’s Luka Modric, which was saved by Danish keeper, Kasper Schmeichel. The subsequent penalties saw five shots for goal saved by the respective keepers, before Croatia eventually came out on top, as However, the Croatia captain [Modric] returned to bravely take one of the post-match kicks as goalkeeper Danijel Subasic save three of Denmark’s efforts to set up a quarter-final meeting with Russia.
  • The final score [after being level at 1-1] saw Croatia defeat Denmark win 3-2 on penalties.

 Day Three of the Round of 16,  occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning, 3 July [AEST, with again, two matches being featured.

  • Match 1 was Brazil vs Mexico, held at Samara, at 12 am. With some of it’s main competitors out of the running, this was Brazil’s big opportunity to make a statement, and that they did. Brazil charged into the World Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory over Mexico as Neymar shone with a goal and an assist that dumped the central Americans out at the last 16 stage for the seventh straight occasion, after their World Cup began with such promise with a victory over champions Germany, but ended in familiar fashion in the first knockout round. For Brazil, it was the seventh World Cup running they had reached the last eight. Meanwhile the Brazilian superstar had his critics – Neymar’s sparkling performance was tarnished by yet another example of his tendency to overreact to seemingly innocuous challenges. The latest chapter in a bulging catalogue of histrionic behaviour came in the second half, when Mexico  midfielder Miguel Layun appeared to step on his ankle as he lay prone.  Neymar writhed around and convulsed as if he had received an electric shock.  The final  score in the game  –  Brazil 2, Mexico 0.
  • Match 2 was Belgium vs Japan, at 4 am, played at Rostov-on-Don. This game saw a magnificent comeback by the Belgium team, after being down 0-2, about 7 minutes into the second half. But the Japanese hearts were broken when Belgium came back to win an extraordinary match, and a place in the quarter-finals, with just a few seconds of stoppage time left to be played.  Despite4 the outcome, the 61st-ranked Japanese who were given little chance of making an impact at the tournament, produced a gritty group stage display and last-16 match versus Belgium which won over the fans. Yet despite the heartache and the sadness at their World Cup elimination, the fans remained true to the morals and cleared up the stands before leaving – as they have done at each of their four games in Russia. That goodwill nature of the Japanese contingent in Russia even spread to the team, who despite being eliminated from the World Cup in the most dramatic of circumstances ensured they cleaned the changing room to perfection and left a note that read “Спасибо” – Russian for thank you.    The final score  –  Belgium  3, Japan 0

Day Four of the Round of 16,  occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 4 July [AEST, with the final four teams of the last 16 involved.

Match 1 was Sweden vs Switzerland, played at 12 am, at St. Petersburg. In a win described as ‘scrappy’, it was enough to put the Swedes into the quarter-finals  for the first time in 24 years. Reporting from St. Petersburg, Simon Jennings wrote  “Both teams were wasteful in possession and guilty of the sort of poor finishing and unimaginative mid-field play that had boos and whistles ringing around the ….stadium from as early as the 25th minutes..” On the basis of that performance, Jennings suggests that “the English [who play Sweden in their quarter-final match] will not lose any sleep over the prospect of facing the limited Swedish attack”.  English fans will no doubt hope that their team does not under-estimate the Swedes however.    Final score in the match:  Sweden 1, Switzerland  0.

 Match 2, and the final game of the round of 16, involved England and Colombia.  For the English, this was a game which finally saw the lifting of a hoodoo which suggested that England never win penalty shoot-outs.  Writing from Moscow, Steven Goff, in commenting on the match which would eventually be won, on penalties, by England, said “For all the history and lore surrounding English soccer, the national team has not raised a major trophy since the 1966 World Cup”. To many fans, an almost unbelievable statistic.  And it could have continued  –  with the score at the end of full and extra time sitting at 1-1, England again had to face a ‘dreaded’ penalty situation. This time, they managed to pull off a heart-stopping win over Colombia in a penalty shootout. Mateus Uribe hit the crossbar and England keeper Jordan Pickford saved Carlos Bacca’s effort, while the Three Lions scored four of their five penalties to progress to the quarter-finals.  The final score revealing  England 1 [4] defeating Colombia  1 [3].

So there we have it – at the end of the round of 16, the 32 teams which began this tournament, are now reduced to 8 teams who will compete in the quarter final matches, beginning in the early hours of the 7th July [AEST].

 The four Quarter Final matches were as follows.

  • Uruguay vs France; played at Mizhny Novgorod, at 12 am on Saturday 7 July. The key match-ups here were Diego Godin [Uruguay] and Antonie Griezmann [France], by coincidence, the former being godfather to the French player’s daughter [though that fact was no doubt forgotten during the match]. Uruguayand France play in the first quarter-final tomorrow. Uruguay and France  had met five times in the past 30 years, with Nil all draws in four of those games, and a 1-0 win to Uruguay in the most recent game in 2013. More pleasingly, their first three meetings (one in 1924, one in 1966 and one in 1985) featured 11 goals.

As it eventuated this time, goals from Raphael Varane and Griezmann would be enough to ensure France of a berth in the semi-finals for the first time since 2006. Writing for the Guardian, Stuart James noted that “Growing in confidence all the time and blessed with outstanding individuals, there is something ominous about the way France have dispatched Argentina and now Uruguay, scoring six goals in the process and, perhaps most significantly, leaving the impression there is so much more to come” while “Uruguay will reflect on a potential turning point just before half-time, when Hugo Lloris produced an outstanding save to keep out a powerful downward header from Martín Cáceres and Diego Godín thumped the follow-up wide. Those two chances were rare sights of goal for a team outplayed for much of the game”.  The final score:  France  defeated Uruguay  2-0..

  • Brazil vs Belgium was played at Kazan, at 4 am on Saturday, 7 July, with the ky match-ups here expected to be the Brazilian captain, Thiago Silva  and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku.. It’s been a long time since these teams faced each other. The last meeting was Brazil’s 2-0 World Cup Round of 16 victory in 2002. That was also their only competitive meeting to date. Rivaldo and Ronaldo scored in Kobe. It was a much closer match than the score would suggest. Brazil went on to win the competition that year – beating Germany 2-0 in the final.

From the BBC –  “Belgium produced a brilliant performance to knock five-time winners Brazil out of the World Cup and reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1986.  Roberto Martinez’s side turned on the style in Kazan to clock up their fifth straight win of the tournament and ensure the semi-finals will be contested by four European sides for the first time since 2006. Although, as another reporter noted,   “quite how Belgium hung on to reach the semi-finals and send Brazil home they may never know.  It was another Russia 2018 classic, featuring a Belgium side who plundered two goals against their famous opposition twice in the first 32 minutes after which the men in the yellow shirts would spend the next hour in thrilling perpetual chase. Led by their little general Philippe Coutinho, and perhaps with a little longer at their disposal, it would have been Brazil in the semi-final against France in St Petersburg on Tuesday”.  So we head into the Semi-finals with no South American side, no Germany, and no Spain, and likely all European semi-finals. Final Score:  Belgium defeated Brazil 2-1

  • Sweden vs England, played at Samara, at 12 am, Sunday 8 July.  Goals scored by England’s Harry Maguire and Dele Alli were sufficient to give their team a semi-final berth.  It’s noted that the last time England won a World Cup quarter final was against Cameroon in 1990, and they had lost two since then, so despite the overall reputation of English football, they’d not played in a semi-final for 28 years.  Fun fact: All of Sweden’s players are based at clubs abroad, while all of Gareth Southgate’s men play their domestic football in England. Five players in the Sweden squad play their club football in the English league system – could their insider knowledge come in handy on Saturday?  They are: Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United), Martin Olsson (Swansea City), Sebastian Larsson (Hull City), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea).

Mind you, as written in the UK Independent News –  “England did have to work hard to get ahead, and it was not pretty in the first half-hour before the goal. But once they did so they were always in complete control, and started to attack with the fluency that had been promised all tournament but never quite arrived. Once Dele Alli nodded in a clever header the game was up”.  As for Sweden, their effort was seen by some as a rather feeble challenge. AS the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor wrote –    “It was England’s first clean sheet of the tournament and there was never a concerted spell when Sweden – willing but limited opponents – managed to pin them back”……….Final score saw England defeat Sweden 2-0.

  • The final quarter final match was between Russia and Croatia, played at Sochi, at 4 am on Sunday, 8 July. Speaking prior to the match,  Russia central defender Ilya Kutepov told FIFA that the team doesn’t intend resting on the achievement of eliminating Spain. “We want to go as far as possible. Now we have new goals. Croatia are a very good team with great players but we are determined to make another step forward. I don’t want to say that after beating Spain we can beat anyone, no, I’d phrase it in a different way: appetite comes with eating. When we played in a group we wanted to qualify for the knockout stage. Then we thought that Spain are strong but we wanted to go further. Now we meet Croatia and the quarter-finals are not enough for us anymore. With every victory you want to go further and further”.

Unfortunately for the host nation, this match would see the end of Russia’s World Cup campaign, although the final result would come down to a penalty shoot-out.    From ABC News we read the following report  –  “The Croats hadn’t advanced to the semi-finals at the World Cup since 1998, when the country made its first appearance. Croatia will next play England in the semi-finals on Wednesday in Moscow.  With the crowd silenced following an extra-time header from Croatia defender Domagoj Vida in the 101st minute, Russia defender Mario Fernandes scored with his own header in the 115th to send the match to yet another penalty shootout.  Fernandes, who was born in Brazil but rejected a chance to play for that country’s national team in 2011, sent his penalty kick wide of the net in the shootout, giving Croatia the advantage.  Both goalkeepers made early saves in the shootout, with an injured Danijel Subasic stopping the opening shot from Fyodor Smolov. Igor Akinfeev later blocked an attempt from Mateo Kovacic.  At 1-1, Fernandes missed his shot, then the teams traded two scores each before Ivan Rakitic calmly converted the winning penalty.  “We should have finished the job before penalties but maybe it’s written in the stars we have to go through the extra drama,” said Luka Modric, whose penalty bounced off Subasic’s hand and the post before entering the other side of the net.

Although Russia made it further at this year’s World Cup than most anyone expected, it was Croatia that advanced to the semi-finals with a 4-3 shootout victory following a 2-2 draw.  The overachieving hosts, the lowest ranked team in the tournament at number 70, were trying to make it to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since the Soviet Union finished fourth at the 1966 tournament in England.  Even Russian President Vladimir Putin was taken in by the host nation’s surprising run, at least according to Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov.  “Putin called me during the day, and he called me right now,” Cherchesov said. “He congratulated us on a very good game. He said what we showed on the field was great. I told him we were disappointed. He said we should have our eyes open and make the next steps.”   Final score saw Croatia  2 [4]  defeat Russia 2 [3].

 

So we now reach the Semi-Final stage  –  France versus Belgium [July 11],   and England versus Croatia [July 12]

 Semi Final No. 1  –    France versus Belgium  –  played at 4 am on Wednesday, 11 July [AEST], at the St Petersburg Stadium.

  • There was only the single goal scored in this game, early in the 2nd half, although both teams had scoring opportunities in the 1st

The following is an almost complete copy of a rather ornate New York Times description of France’s victory, and the lead-up to it [written by Rory Smith] which I’ve taken the liberty to share with my readers.

“They were only glimpses, fleeting and flickering and ultimately insignificant, but they were so tantalizing that they were impossible to miss.

Kylian Mbappé, inside the first 10 seconds, burning Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen away, an express train speeding past a bewildered commuter. Paul Pogba striding forward, Antoine Griezmann dancing through challenges. Mbappé again, splitting Belgium’s defense in two with a blink-of-the-eye pirouetting drag-back.

They were moments to drop the jaw and draw the breath, visions of the heights this French generation — now one win away from being crowned champion of the world — might yet scale, images of what this team of all the talents could, and perhaps should, be.

But it was not those flashes of neon brilliance that took France past Belgium in a 1-0 win that sent thousands out to celebrate on the Champs-Élysées. France is not in its third World Cup final in 20 years because of what this team threatens to be, or might become.

It is there, instead, because of what it does in the long stretches between flashes; it is there not because it shines so brightly but because it dulls whatever it faces; it is there because of what it is: a team that always has much, much more than enough, but only ever does enough, and never any more.

France has, somehow, reached the cusp of greatness without ever really having given the impression it has stretched itself, or reached its full potential. It sleepwalked through its group, with single-goal victories against Australia and Peru, and a mind-numbing goalless draw with Denmark.

In the round of 16, against an Argentina side mired in chaos and permanently on the verge of a meltdown, it roused itself for a few minutes, scored three quick-fire goals, then sank back into itself, eventually winning — again — by just one goal.

It was only in the quarterfinal, against Uruguay, that it finally broke that trend of squeaking by, but only thanks a header off a set piece and an egregious error from Fernando Muslera, the Uruguayan

goalkeeper. France reached St. Petersburg, and the semifinal, hardly having broken a sweat.

It was greeted there by Belgium, whose own golden generation was supposed to provide a significantly more exacting test, to force the French out of their shells, to demand that Manager Didier Deschamps’s richly gifted players finally live up to their lofty reputations. For 50 minutes, the Belgians threatened to do just that, to draw this team into the open field. And then Samuel Umtiti scored — slipping his marker to meet Griezmann’s corner — and France drew back once more, content to contain and control.

Deschamps’s players let Belgium burn itself out, deprived it first of hope, and then of life, all the while not expending a drop of energy more than was strictly necessary.

Belgium’s Eden Hazard, in particular, had started the game as a ball of energy, twisting and turning and writhing his way past Benjamin Pavard, France’s right back; Hazard had the look of a player very conscious of the fact that this was his chance to stake a claim for greatness.

By the end, he looked adrift. He had long since wandered into central midfield, craving some sort of space, some sort of peace, only to find neither. His sparkle had gone, and so had his spark.

It was not — as might be expected, in the era of counter-pressing, that frenzied style of harrying and harassing that is so en vogue in European club soccer — because the French had pummeled him and his team into submission, barely allowing a moment’s rest, but because they had done the opposite: They waited as Belgium wandered into their sleeper-hold, and then simply refused to let go.

That has been France’s unexpected forte in this tournament: its defensive strength, its imperturbability, the ease with which it blunts an attack. Only Argentina has scored against the French from open play. They are so assured in defense that none of those single-goal victories felt at all close, or tense; they all seemed to be over long before the final whistle. So, too, here: When the game ended, the explosion of joy from the French players, and their small squadron of fans, felt somehow out of place, out of context, with the torpor that had descended.

France has achieved this not, as the teams of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino seek to do, by seeking to coil itself around its prey, squeezing the breath from its opponents. Its approach resembles that of a crocodile, rather than a snake: It waits, pounces, and then sinks back beneath the surface, happy to wait again.

Given the personnel at his disposal, it is hard not to feel that Deschamps is forcing his players to do something that does not come naturally to them. This is a squad that could — should — be tearing through opponents; with its abilities, courage should not feel like a risk. There is a lingering feeling that France is not making the most of his resources, a temptation to wonder what this team might achieve, what it might become, with a less conservative, less cautious manager.

It is easy to speculate, too, that France’s passivity, that lack of ambition, might eventually prove its undoing, that in the final it will need to raise its game and will ultimately be unable — or unwilling — to do so.

There is, though, a counter argument that is no less compelling. France has met every challenge and passed them with ease. Lionel Messi could not disrupt its serenity; nor could Luis Suárez; now Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have failed, too………………………….Deschamps and his players are in the World Cup final because of what they are: a team designed to draw the sting, to suck the air from a game, to deprive the fire of oxygen. It is hard to believe they will not win it, though, because of what they might be: the team with the sting, with the air, with the fire. France, for the last month, has done what is required. It will be confident it can do so, one last time……………………And the final score: France  1, Belgium 0

Semi Final No. 2  –    Croatia versus England  –  played at 4 am on Thursday, 12 July [AEST], at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.

  • Well, the dreams of World Cup glory were shattered today when Croatia won it’s way into the Final for the first time. As reported in the ‘Guardian’ – “England fans were left heartbroken as Croatia claimed a 2-1 victory in extra-time of their World Cup semi-final. Gareth Southgate’s side made a dream start with Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick securing a 1-0 lead but Croatia came out stronger in the second half and Ivan Perisic levelled in the 67th minute. The teams traded blows for the rest of the match, but were forced into extra-time locked at 1-1. After a tense first period Mario Mandzukic then ended England’s hopes of making it to their first World Cup final since 1966. Croatia will play France in the final on Sunday [Moscow time].

As would be expected, the scenes of fans reacting in Croatia and England sharply contrasted between those of pure joy and utter despair.

And from Fox Sports, we read:England, appearing in their first semi-final since 1990, had looked on course for their first final since 1966 as they led through Kieran Trippier’s fifth- minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half on Wednesday.  Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more dangerous side. It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russia on penalties. But just when it looked as if they would become the first team to appear in three shootouts at a single World Cup Mandzukic struck with a well-taken low shot.  England captain Harry Kane could not hide his desperate disappointment  “We’re gutted. It hurts, it hurts a lot,” Kane said after the match at the Luzhniki Stadium.  “It’s going to hurt for a while of course. We can hold our heads up high. It’s been a fantastic journey, we got further than anyone else thought we would have,” he added.  “It’s been great to get to this stage and we know we’ve done everyone proud but we wanted to go on and win it,” Kane added.  “We thought we were just good enough, we thought we could have done that. But we’ve fallen just a bit short. It hurts. I don’t know what else to say\………………….The Final score: Croatia: 2, England: 1.

The play –off for 3rd and 4th position:  Belgium versus England.

This match between the two semi-final losers, was played at St. Petersburg, at 12 am [AEST] on Sunday morning 15 July.  This game saw England finish 4th at World Cup after Belgium won with goals  from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard. Later, the English coach admitted that “England had no illusions about it’s current    standing in international football.  England manager Gareth Southgate, speaking to ITV: “Belgium are a better side than us. We had to play flat out. We had a day less to repair and recover. It was a game too far for us.

“Belgium are a top team and they will be thinking they should have gone further than they did. We caused them problems and pinned them back but they have players of the highest quality. “Two years on, you look at the number of caps and age of squad for Belgium. This is their peak but we are nowhere near that and we knew that the whole way through.”

While both teams had hoped to go further than was expected of them,  for Belgium, it would be that country’s best result in the World Cup competition, and it’s fans were more than happy with the outcome of today’s match………………………The final score:  Belgium 2, England 0.

 

The FIFA World Cup Final:  France versus  Croatia.

Played at the Luzhmiki Stadium, Moscow, at 1 am on the morning of Monday, 16 July [AEST].

Well, there was almost a smorgasbord of goals in the final, with the balance of them going to the French team. In fact,  it was the highest scoring final since 1966

Reporting for the ABC News, Liam Butterworth wrote  –

‘France has become champion of the world for a second time after holding out a determined Croatia in an entertaining World Cup final.  While it wasn’t always convincing — its first two goals came from the first ever own-goal and video assistant referee awarded penalty in a World Cup final, and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a terrible error for Croatia’s second — Les Bleus made the most of their chances to hold out the Vatreni 4-2.  Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and midfield maestro Paul Pogba finished impressive team goals in a six-minute second half blitz that put the game beyond a Croatian side which had dominated large stretches and had 61 per cent possession.  While the French led 2-1 at half-time, Pogba blew the game open in the 59th minute by finishing a move that he had started in midfield.  He played Mbappe into a wide channel and then calmly curled Antoine Griezmann’s lay back pass past a motionless Daniel Subasic.

The 19-year-old Mbappe — already the first teenager to play in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958 — then matched another record held by the Brazil legend by scoring on 65 minutes. Defender Lucas Hernandez held off a strong challenge by Mario Mandzukic and passed inside to find Mbappe whose powerful right-foot strike beat Subasic once again.  Mandzukic gave his side a slice of hope on 68 minutes, taking full advantage of Lloris’ horrible attempt to beat him from a pass back.

But it wasn’t enough as France made amends for its defeat by Portugal in the 2016 European Championships by becoming the world’s best. France coach Didier Deschamps became just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, following Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo.

Croatia had played extra time in each of its three previous matches but showed no signs of fatigue early in the final.”

“In the end, it was destiny for France and heartbreak for Croatia, who was playing in its first final. A wild World Cup concluded with a team everyone thought could win actually doing so, while Croatia’s miracle run falls painfully short. There could only be one winner, and a deserved France team managed to step up with its most convincing showing of the tournament when it mattered most.”  [Roger Gonzales, CBS Sports]..

So after 4 weeks of competition, France and it’s citizens are left to celebrate for the next 4 years at least, with a Final score:  France 4, Croatia 2

The end!!

 

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This instalment covers the period 22 June to the 29 June [AEST], featuring the concluding matches in the Group Stage of the 2018 tournament

Match 24:  Brazil vs Costa Rica  [Group E]

Played at the St. Petersburg Stadium, at 10 pm,  Friday 22 June [AEST]

Brazil left it late to make the breakthrough against Costa Rica but eventually triumphed 2-0, scoring goals in injury time after the completion of the regular 90 minutes.  Final score:  Brazil 2, Costa Rica 0.

 

Match 25:  Nigeria vs Iceland  [Group D]

This game was at the Volgolgrad Arena, played at 1 am Saturday, 23 June [AEST}.

It ended up as a disappointing result for the enthusiastic but outclassed team from Iceland  – [from CBS Sports] –  Nigeria moved into second place in the World Cup’s Group D after beating underdog Iceland 2-0 on Friday thanks to two goals from Ahmed Musa. The African nation struggled in the first half and was fortunate to not concede, but Musa went on the counter with Victor Moses in the second half to score the winning goal before putting the game away late, placing his team in a great spot while also giving Argentina life in their group.   Final score:  Nigeria 2, Iceland 0

 

Match 26:  Serbia vs Switzerland  [Group E]

Played at the Kaliningrad  Stadium, at 4 am, Saturday, 23 June [AEST].

A last-minute Xherdan Shaqiri breakaway goal handed Switzerland victory as it came from behind to defeat Serbia 2-1 in Kaliningrad.  The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winner Brazil but it was pushed all the way by the Serbs. Unfortunately, national politics seemed to intrude into this match – as reported on news.com  –   “ It was a sweet victory for Shaqiri and fellow Swiss goalscorer Granit Xhaka, who along with teammate Valon Belrami were booed relentlessly by Serbia’s fans throughout.  Shaqiri, Xhaka and Belrami trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, a fact which had stoked tensions before the match.  Final score:  Switzerland 2,  Serbia 1.

 

Match 27:  Belgium vs Tunisia [Group G]

This game was played at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, and to my view was one of the more exciting of the World Cup Games played to date, certainly from an attacking aspect, with a total of 7 goals shared by the two teams [including 3 goals within the first 17 minutes].  Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored twice as Belgium strengthened their lead above England at the top of World Cup Group G by crushing Tunisia with a devastating attacking display. While Roberto Martinez’s side are not through to the last 16 yet, a win for England over Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday will see the Red Devils and Three Lions progress.   This game also saw Belgium complete another win following on from an unbeaten record of 21 games since September 2016. AS for Lukaku, he is the first man in 32 years to have scored two goals in two World Cup matches – the last to do that was Diego Maradona!!  Final score:  Belgium  5, Tunisia 2

 

Match 28:  Korea Republic vs Mexico  [Group F]

This match was played at the Rostov Arena, at 1 am Sunday, 24 June [AEST]

Javier Hernandez scored his 50th international goal after Carlos Vela converted a 26th minute penalty as impressive Mexico registered their second successive win in the tournament. Son Heung-min scored in the stoppage time to reduce the lead but it was too little too late for Korea. With the win, Mexico comfortably sit on top of Group F with six points, and with their second defeat Korea are out of knockout contention.

 

Match 29:  Germany vs Sweden  [Group F]

Played at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, this game saw Germany come from behind at half-time to win a World Cup match for the first time since 1974. Toni Kroos winning goal for Germany, came after 94 minutes & 42 seconds, the latest goal scored by Germany in World Cup history [excluding extra time].The final score:  Germany 2, Sweden 1.

Match 30:  England vs Panama [Group G]

Played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, at 10 pm, Sunday, 24 June [AEST]. This game ended up a bit of a walkover, with England leading  5-0 at halftime and looking as though they would go on with the scoring

Harry Kane completed his hat-trick of goals in the 2nd half, the only English goal in that period.  In the 78th minute, history was made when  Felipe Baloy becomes the first ever goal-scorer for Panama in World Cup finals! But that was where it ended for Panama, as England qualified for the final 16. With this commanding win, England sent a clear message to every other team in Russia with their  history-making demolition of Panama. Final scores:  England 6, Panama 1.

 Match 31:  Japan vs Senegal  [Group H]

Played at the Ekaterinhburg Arena, at 1 am, Monday, 25 June [AEST]

Japan twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Senegal in their World Cup Group H encounter on Sunday.

Goals from Senegal captain Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague were matched by strikes from Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda for the Samurai Blues.   Both teams were left still hopeful of progressing into the knockout stages of the World Cup.  Having both won their opening fixtures, this meeting in Ekaterinburg was a chance for one nation to all-but seal their spot in the latter stages – but a 2-2 draw means they will have to wait for their final games to try and secure qualification from their group. Final score:  Japan 2, Senegal 2.

 

Match 32:  Poland vs Colombia [Group H]

Played at the Kazan Arena at 4 am on Monday, 24 June [AEST]

This game proved to be a crushing loss to the team from Poland, with Colombia sending them crashing in their Group H clash with a huge three-goal romp to claim the South American nation its first win in Russia. Colombian captain Radamel Falcao sunk Poland’s World Cup dreams with a goal in the 70th minute. Falcao found the net after Juan Fernando Quintero darted him a quick through-ball. And the party didn’t stop there.  Juan Cuadrado found the goal in the 75th minute after a stunning pass from James Rodriguez broke through the dejected Polish defence, putting three on the board for the South Americans as the final 10 minutes loomed [news.com.au].  Final Score:  Colombia 3, Poland 0..

 

Tuesday morning [AEST] saw the start of each group’s third matches for the respective teams, and in most of the groups, that vital 2njd spot on the group rankings was still up for grabs, none more so than Australia’s situation in Group C.  The final positions in Groups A and B were decided early this morning, with the two matches in each group played at the same  time  – presumably to avoid collusion, contrived results, etc, although with modern media communications, I’m not sure that such an arrangement really makes much difference, with no doubt, team coaches and/or other officials keeping a close eye on the ‘other’ match.

 

Match 33: Uruquay vs Russia  [Group A]

This game was played at the Samara Arena, at 12 am, Tuesday, 26 June {AEST].

The battle for top position,  and with the home team on a high after two strong wins, one might have expected a closer outcome.  Not to be!  Reporting from ‘The Telegraph’  we read – ‘ If the airless sensation inside the space-age Samara Arena arose in part from the sopping evening humidity, then it also reflected the oxygen sucked with dramatic suddenness from Russia’s exuberant World Cup campaign.   Having glided so serenely into the last 16, the hosts smashed head-first here into the reality of their own limitations, as a Uruguay side turbocharged by Luis Suarez put them to the sword with a ruthless flourish’  With this win, the South American team claimed top spot in the Group.  Final Score:  Uruquay  3, Russia 1

Match 34: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt  [Group A]

Played at the Volgograd Arena, at 12 midnight, 26 June [AEST],  this game was really between the two also-rans, playing for national pride only. The Middle Eastern team eventually dominated in the match to claim 3rd spot in the group rankings, although they had to wait until the closing moments.  Saudi Arabia scored deep into stoppage time in both halves, with Salem Al-Dawsari’s last-gasp winner securing their first World Cup victory since a run to the last 16 in 1994.

Final score:  Saudi Arabia 2, Egypt 1

 Group A: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Uruguay: 3. 0. 0.   5-0.  9 pts
  2. Russia: 2.  0. 1.  8-4.  6 pts.
  3. Saudi Arabia: 1.  0. 2.   2-7.  3 pts
  4. Egypt: 0.  0. 3.   2-6.  0 pts

 

Match 35: Iran vs Portugal.  [Group B]

Played at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk, at 4 am, Tuesday, 26 June [AEST], with the result likely to determine which of these two teams missed out on qualifying for the next round. I’d been impressed by Portugal up until this stage –  while Iran had their chance to secure an historic win, however, the two teams played out a 1-1 thriller with Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty and Ricardo Quaresma scoring an incredible goal. But the draw was not enough for Iran, who would have to be satisfied with 3rd place in the group.

Final Score:  Iran 1, Portugal 1.

 Match 36  Spain vs Morocco.  [Group B]

Played at the Kaliningrad Stadium, at 4 am, Tuesday, 26 June [AEST].  Another drawn game, which could have cost Spain top position, were it not for a similar result in the corresponding group match. Reporting from The Telegraph  – ‘As this match entered added time, Spain were staring into the abyss. Their ongoing participation in the 2018 World Cup had slipped out of their hands and they were reliant only on their great rivals, Portugal, continuing to frustrate Iran.   Seven extraordinary minutes later and, after a back-heeled volley, a major Video Assistant Referee controversy, several scuffles and a mini pitch-invasion, they were somehow into the last 16 as Group B winners. That occurred,  just when Morocco thought the points were theirs, Iago Aspas scored with a fine back-heeled flick in stoppage time as Spain ultimately made first place in the group theirs.

Final Score:  Spain 2, Morocco 2.

 Group B: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Spain: 1. 2. 0.   6-5.   5 pts
  2. Portugal: 1.  2. 0.  5-4.    5 pts.
  3. Iran: 1.  1. 1.  3-2.   4 pts
  4. Morocco: 0.  1. 2. 2-4.  1 pts

 

Match 37:  Denmark vs France  [Group C]

Played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow at 12 am, Wednesday, 27 June [AEST].  Denmark fighting for the 2nd spot in this group, along with Australia, with the odds in Denmark’s favour.  These two teams achieved their aim – both qualifying for the next round, not simply because of Australia’s subsequent loss, but through the somewhat mundane exercise of a 0-0 draw  – as one journalist put it  – “France…haven’t exactlywon over many critics either – especially in their final group game…in a game neither team seemed especially eager to play”.  French coach Didlier Deschamps said after the game  – “I’m not saying at the end we gave up winning the match…But we got what we wanted”.  So did Denmark!

Final score: France 0, Denmark 0. .

Match 38:  AUSTRALIA vs Peru  [Group C]

Played at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, at 12 am, Wednesday, 27 June [AEST],  The equation from this match  if Australia was to progress to the round of 16 –  need both Australia and France to win, provided Australia has scored more goals than Denmark. If Denmark won, or that match was a draw –  Australia would be heading home.

Michael Lynch, writing from Sochi  –  “A change of tactics, shape and structure, a different coach  – but a similar result. Just as they did in 2010 under Dutchman Pim Verbeek and in 2014 under home-grown boss Ange Postecoglou, Australia crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage, this time under another well-credentialled Dutchman, Bert van Marwijk, with a 2-0 loss to Peru”.

As with it’s nation of supporters, the Socceroos began with a confidence, that was quickly deflated by an early goal [Peru’s first at World Cup level] early in the match [in the 18th minute]. But after half-time, we still held on to that hope  –  for 5 minutes anyway, at which point, a 2nd goal to Peru went into the net. Even the first appearance of national hero, Tim Cahill, and young prospective star, Daniel Arzani, could do little to change the scenario of another loss at the group stage eventuating.  Watching the game in the early hours of Wednesday morning, yes, it was a disappointing outcome for an Australian supporter, although I did admire the passion and enthusiasm of the team from Peru and their 30,000 plus supporters.

In it’s three matches, Australia’s only scores came from penalty goals  –  we were again, when it counted, unable to score those vital field goals.  Congratulations to Peru.  Mind you, a win wouldn’t have helped the course, because of the mundane draw [mentioned above] between France and Denmark.  Final score:  Peru  2, Australia 0.

Group C: Final Ranking of teams

  1. France:   2. 1. 0.   3-1.   7 pts
  2. Denmark: 1.  2. 0.   2-1.   5 pts.
  3. Peru: 1.  0. 2.  2-2.   3 pts
  4. AUSTRALIA: 0.  1. 2.  2-5.   1 pts

 

Match 39:  Nigeria vs Argentina [Group D]

Played at the St. Petersburg Stadium, at 4 am, Wednesday, 27 June [AEST]

Argentina went into this game, in real danger of missing out on progressing, against a young and enthusiastic African team. Despite that, as a relieved Liomel Messi said after the game  – “We already knew we were going to win, we were confident that God would help us, that all would turn out well. But we did not expect the complication of the draw, of suffering so much”.  That confidence went into this match, and proved to be successful in a dramatic  win over Nigeria, which secure  a qualifying spot for the 2014 runners-up at the expense of their opponents.  Final score:   Argentina  2,  Nigeria 1

 

Match 40:  Iceland vs Croatia [Group D]

Played at the Rostov Arena, at 4 am, Wednesday, 27 June [AEST].

Iceland came into this group, with nothing to lose, lots of enthusiasm, but in the end, a lack of fire power to compete adequately in a strong group. The strongest team in the group – Croatia – continued to display the form that has seen them go through the group stage undefeated, and while Iceland had started their campaign with an unexpected draw with Argentina, thy would find Nigeria and Croatia their superiors. Afterwards, coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said “I couldn’t be more proud of the players, but we are disappointed to not go through”.

Final score:  Croatia: 2, Iceland 1.

Group D: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Croatia: 3. 0. 0.   7-1.   9 pts
  2. Argentina: 1.  1. 0.   3-5.   4 pts.
  3. Nigeria:   1.  0. 2.  3-4.   3 pts
  4. Iceland:       0.  1. 2.   2-5.    1 pts

 

Match 41:  Mexico vs Sweden [Group F]

This game played  the Ekaterinburg Arena at 12 midnight, Thursday 28 June [AEST]

Both of these teams would advance to the knockout stage, despite a convincing win by the Sweden team. But for Mexico, attentions were elsewhere. As Amy Lawrence reported for the Guardian – “Devastated on the pitch, trailing 3-0 after a performance riddled with anxiety and inhibition, with the minutes ticking down on Mexico’s World Cup Javier Hernández did the only thing that mattered in the circumstances. He pelted over to the touchline and asked his bench the burning question. What the hell is the score of Germany v South Korea? At that point it was 0-0; there was still hope”.  That hope would be realised. Final score Sweden 3, Mexico 0.

 

Match 42:  South Korea vs Germany  [Group F]

Played at the Kazan Arena, at 12 midnight, Thursday, 28 June [AEST].

Reporting from the Telegraph, we read of Germany’s exit from the World Cup

“Germany had progressed past the group stage of the World Cup sixteen times in a row, but booked themselves a premature exit this year after losing to South Korea in stoppage time.  Kim Young-gwon sealed their fate with a 94th minute goal, which was initially disallowed as off-side but a VAR decision saw the decision overturned as the ball came off Niklas Süle.  Tottenham’s Son Heung-min then added insult to injury scoring a 96th minute second Korean goal.  Though South Korea do not go through to the knock-out stages, the win is the first in their history against Germany.”   Final score:  South Korea  2, Germany 0.

Group F: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Sweden: 3. 0. 0.   7-1.   9 pts
  2. Mexico: 1.  1. 0.   3-5.   4 pts.
  3. South Korea:        1.  0. 2.  3-4.   3 pts
  4. Germany:       0.  1. 2.   2-5.    1 pts

 

Match 43:  Serbia vs Brazil [Group E]

Played at the Spartak Stadium, Moscow at 4am on Thursday, 28 June [AEST].  This match began at a fast pace, with Brazil, after a slow start in the tournament, proving two dominant for the Serbian team. The result ended Serbia’s hopes of qualifying from the group stage for the first time, while Brazil now head to Samara, where their last-16 tie will take place on Monday, as group winners.  Final score:  Brazil 2, Serbia 0

Match 44: Switzerland vs Costa Rica

Played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, at 4 am, Thursday, 27 June [AEST].

This game ended in a draw, which was enough for Switzerland to progress to the next round, which they have achieved in four of the last five World Cups [missing out in 2010],  while Costa Rica [the only team to this stage of the tournament not to have scored] failed to win any games, only the second time they had done that in World Cup appearances, although on this occasion, like Peru, they scored 2 goals in their final game, forcing a draw against the Swiss team.  Final score: Switzerland 2, Costa Rica 2

Group E: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Brazil: 2. 1. 0.   5-1.   7 pts
  2. Switzerland:          1.  1. 0.   3-5.   4 pts.
  3. Serbia:   1.  0. 2.  3-4.   3 pts
  4. Costa Rica:       0.  1. 2.   2-5.    1 pts

 

 Match 45: Japan vs Poland  [Group H]

Played at the Volgograd Arena at 12 midnight, Friday 29 June [AEST]. I think this game was somewhat typical of other games in these final rounds of group matches –  as reported in the Guardian newspaper –  “On a sweltering evening full of twists and turns Japan scrambled into the knockout stage of the World Cup in rather undignified fashion, courtesy of a goal scored 400 miles away in Samara by Colombia’s Yerry Mina and by virtue of the fact they accrued two yellow cards fewer than Senegal.  That is how tight the margins were in Group H, where Japan and Senegal finished with identical records: level on points, goal difference and goals scored. Japan accumulated four bookings compared with Senegal’s six and that – Fifa’s fair-play rule – ended up being the deciding factor that also contributed to a bizarre finish to the match. Aware of the scoreline in Samara and under instructions from their manager, Japan played a game of keep-ball inside their half, in effect running down the clock with no intention of trying to score, despite being behind. Japan knew that unless they had a couple of players booked, or Senegal could score an equaliser, or Poland could score again, they were through to the last 16 for only the third time in their history”.  Final score:  Poland 1, Japan 0;

Match 46:  Senegal vs Colombia  [Group H]

Played at the Samara Arena, at midnight, Friday 29 June [AEST].  Reporting for the BBC, we read that ‘Yerry Mina’s second-half header sent Colombia into a last-16 tie with England at the World Cup at the expense of Senegal, who lost out to Japan having received more yellow cards.  Senegal spent the final 20 minutes pushing for an equaliser which would have sent the African side through – Aliou Cisse’s side were level with Japan in terms of points and goal difference, but crucially not yellow cards. Colombia had to win to be sure of their progress but with Poland beating Japan 1-0 in Volgograd, African representation at the World Cup was ended as Senegal failed to secure the point they needed’   This kind of scenario was also repeated in at least one of the Group G matches. Final score:  Colombia 1, Senegal 0.

Group H: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Colombia: 2. 0. 1.   5-2.   6 pts
  2. Japan: 1.  1. 1.   4-4.   4 pts.
  3. Senegal:       1.  1. 1    4-4.   4 pts
  4. Poland:              1.  0. 2.   2-5.  3 pts

 

Match 47: Panama vs Tunisia [Group G] 

Played at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk, at 4 am, Friday 29 June [AEST]. After their big loss to Belgium, Tunisia ended their World Cup campaign with a win over Panama which would finish the Group stage with 0 points from their three games.. Tunisia would finish third in the group. While neither team could make the next round, this would be the more entertaining of the four overnight matches, with national pride being dominant.  Final score:  Tunisia 2, Panama  1.

Match 48:   England vs Belgium  [Group G]

Played at Kaliningrad Stadium, at 4am , Friday, 29 June [AEST]. With both these teams fairly confident of qualifying, in some eyes this match was another almost ‘non-event’  – with the score 0-0 at halftime,  Belgium hit early in the 2nd half [51st minute] to score the only goal of the match, and retain top position in the group. From the BBC report of the game –  ‘Gareth Southgate made eight changes from England’s win against Panama, while opposite number Roberto Martinez made nine alterations – proving victory was not exactly the top priority as the tournament moves towards the knockout phase.  That was illustrated by a largely mediocre, lifeless encounter in Kaliningrad that was settled by Januzaj’s goal six minutes after the break….’,

Group G: Final Ranking of teams

  1. Belgian:            3. 0. 0.    9-2.   9 pts
  2. England:        2.  0. 1.   8-3.   6 pts.
  3. Tunisia:            1.  0. 2    5-8.   3 pts
  4. Panama:               0.  0. 3.   2-5.   0 pts

 

So that concluded the Group stage of the Tournament  – all 48 matches played over 8 groups.

The Round of 16 follows over Saturday to Tuesday, Moscow time, and those 8 matches will be as follows, with times indicated at Australian Eastern Standard Time [AEST].-

  • France versus Argentina [12am Sunday, 1 July];
  • Uruguay versus Portugal [4am, Sunday, 1 July];
  • Spain versus Russia [12am, Monday 2 July];
  • Croatia versus Denmark [4am, Monday 2 July];
  • Brazil versus Mexico [12am, Tuesday, 3 July]’
  • Belgium versus Japan [4am, Tuesday, 3 July];
  • Sweden versus Switzerland, [12am, Wednesday, 4 July]; and,
  • Colombia versus England [4am, Wednesday, 4 July].

 

I have highlighted my predicted winners.

 

To be continued…..

 

The Group Stages [Matches 1-23].

 

Continuing with our report from Issue 19 of the Coachbuilder’s Column, we look at the first week of the competition, taking us from Match 1 [14 June] to Match 23 [22 June], Moscow time. For my purposes, I’m using Australian Eastern Standard Time [AEST], in my summary of matches played up until the early hours of Friday morning [22nd June].

The FIFA 2018 World Cup got under way with the Opening Ceremony, at about Midnight, on the morning of 15 June here. I didn’t see those proceedings, , but I did watch most of the opening match featuring World Cup hosts, Russia, against Saudi Arabia.

Match 1;  Russia versus Saudi Arabia. [Group A]

These were the two lowest ranked teams at the Tournament – on FIFA rankings, Russia in 70th spot, and Saudi Arabia 67th. In the Group they have drawn, Russia would go into this first match [played at 1 am AEST]  with high hopes of getting through to the next round for the first time in more than 30 years. If they were going to win a game, this was their big chance against the Saudis who have come into the tournament following on from three successive losses to Italy, Peru and Germany.

Russia went into this game, played at 1 am, Friday, 15 June [AEST] at the 80,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium [described as the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport,  without a victory in over months, so there would be a lot of pressure on the host team prior to this match.  Despite a brief threatening move by the Saudis early in the 2nd half, the Russians didn’t let their home crowd supporters down, going on to a convincing win over the luckless Saudis –   Russia  5,  Saudi Arabia  0

There was no TV coverage by either SBS or Foxtel of Games 2 and 3  –  but this supporter found BBC radio descriptions [in English] on SBS Radio 2.

Match 2: Egypt versus Uruquay  [Group A]

Played at the Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg [new capacity of 35,000], at 10 pm AEST, 15 June –  described as a weak looking Group A, especially following Saudi Arabia capitulation earlier this morning,  Egypt’s success may well have depended on the availability of star player Mohamad Salah who suffered a shoulder injury in Liverpool’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid three weeks ago, and has been battling to get fit on a day by day basis.  Meantime, Uruquay’s top scorer – Luis Suarez – has insisted he is a much more mature player since sparking controversy in his previous two World Cup tournaments. The Barcelona forward prevented a certain goal for Ghana with a deliberate handball on the line in 2010, and then infamously bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil in 2014.

As for the match, this was the first of two last minute wins .  At halftime, with the scores locked at 0-0, Egypt would probably have been feeling satisfied to have reached that point without conceding a goal to the highly fancied South American team.  However,  it was in the 89th minute of the match,  that Uruguay scored against a brave Egyptian team, – with  the Jose Gimenez late talley from Sanchez  being enough to seal the win. It was the first opening match win for Uruguay since 1970………..Final score:    Uruquay  1  Egypt 0

Match 3: Morocco versus Iran [Group B]

Scheduled for 1 am [AEST] Saturday 16 June –   Iran in the days leading up to this match, found their preparation disrupted, as they were without boots. Their supplier, Nike, could not provide any because of Donald Trump’s  re-imposition of economic sanctions against Iran.  The team called for assistance from FIFA, other team numbers, or by making purchases from Russian shops. Apart from that, Iran headed into the match after a difficult build-up, with friendlies against Greece and Kosova being cancelled. However, there was some confidence –  they knew much about the Moroccan team but doubted the opposition had much knowledge about the Iranians.

The match was played at St. Petersburg Stadium, apparently designed in a modern ‘space-ag’ format!! In the first match for Group B, Iran waited until the 96th minute to open the scoring, sealing their win. An own goal in the 6th minute of stoppage time was what it took for Iran to scrape a victory from Morocco. Morocco has still never won their opening World Cup match, while the result gave Iran a rare win at the World Cup finals competition.   Final score:   Iran 1, Morocco 0.

 Match 4: Portugal versus Spain  [Group B]

This game was played at the Fisht Stadium in Socchi, at 4am [AEST] Saturday 16 June.  I’d watch a replay later in the day, but it proved to be the best game of the tournament so far, with the teams not separated at the end of the match, and predictions that Portugal, in particular, could go far in this tournament.  Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain’s Diego Costa traded goals back and forth until Nacho took a beautiful strike from distance to give Spain their first lead in the 58th minute. In the end however, Cristiano Ronaldo created the highlight of the match, by  completing a hat trick of goals in the 88th minute – a  free-kick that clinched a valuable point from the match for Portugal to earn the draw. Both Spain and Portugal will both receive one point in the standings.  Final score  –   Portugal 3; Spain 3.

Match 5:  France versus AUSTRALIA  [Group C]

In a match, described by one media outlet as the ‘Princes versus the Paupers’ [on the basis of transfer fee values for the respective team players – the Aussie players ‘valued at $50million, against the estimated $1billion for the French team], it was perhaps hopeful optimism on my part to suggest that was one thing in Australia’s favour  –  France are traditionally slow starters in major tournaments. In 4 of their last 8 major events, France failed to score with a record of 3 wins, 1 loss, and 4 draws, and 2 of those wins were sealed with last minute scores. The Australians, going into this match, felt that if they could avoid conceding an early goal, they would give themselves a strong chance of continuing France’s opening game record.

Before looking at the outcome, a brief look back at Australia’s four previous World Cup appearances.

  • 1974 [Germany]: Lost 0-2 to East Germany; Lost 0-3 to West Germany; Drew 0-0 with Chile.
  • 2006 [Germany]: Won 3-1 over Japan;  Lost 0-2 to Brazil; Drew 2-2 with Croatia.  Second Round: Lost 0-1 to Italy [from a last minute penalty].
  • 2010 [South Africa]: Lost 0-4 to Germany;  Drew 1-1 with Ghana;  Won 2-1 over Serbia.
  • 2014 [Brazil]: Lost 1-3 to Chili;  Lost 2-36 to Netherlands;  Lost 0-3 to Spain

In any case, the 2018 opening match for the Socceroos was played at the Kazan Arena, ay 8 pm [AEST], on Saturday 16 June.  As it eventuated, Tim Cahill, the Socceroos all- time leading goal scorer and veteran of 3 World Cups, did not make it onto the pitch in this game.  Irrespective of the pre-match ‘one-sided’ nature between the two teams, more than 7000 Aussies turned the Russian city of Kazan, hoping their team could defy the odds.

By halftime, the score was 0-0 –  Australia had managed to hold the French out, and looking reasonably confident of continuing that way. However a penalty shot 58 minutes in, gave France the opening goal, yet 4 minutes later, Australia responded in similar vein, with an equalising goal from a penalty shot.  However, at 81 minutes,  a brief lapse on defence [that’s all it needs],  and a goal to France, gave them back the lead.

It could be described as a brave performance, pushing France to the limit, though I found the commentator’s comment of a ‘fantastic’ effort by Australia a little annoying  –  ‘they didn’t win’!!  However, the view is, second spot in the group, behind France,  is up for grabs  –  Australia’s two other opponents in the group would play each other a few hours later.    Final score:  France 2; Australia 1.

[local paper headlines on Sunday morning included –  So far from disgrace  – Van Narwijk proud of valiant team  –  Unlucky defeat’s upsides   –  Roos suffer hi-tech torture  –  Bad luck boys, bring on the Danes   –  Paupers but Aussie fans don’t care].

Match 6:  Argentina versus Iceland  [Group D]

This game was played at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, at 11 pm [AEST] Saturday, 16 June

Argentina’s Lionel Messi [the five time world player of the year] did not go into this game taking Iceland lightly –  “Iceland showed they could compete with anyone at the last Euros” he said. Yet there was criticism of his team [which lost the 2014 World Cup to Germany] claiming that too much was focused on Messi against a ‘band of grafters’ who pride themselves on teamwork [and revel in their underdog status].

From one report –  While the result was not on the scale of that Iceland produced to eliminate England from Euro 2016, it was a major boost for the tiny nation, who retain hopes of advancing from a group that also includes Nigeria and Croatia.  The island nation of 330,000 is the smallest country to ever qualify for the finals but emphatically showed they can mix it with the heavyweights.

In front of a raucous crowd at the 45,000-capacity venue, Iceland launched into some early physical challenges and rattled Argentina. Argentina must regroup before facing Croatia on Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, while Iceland face Nigeria in Volgograd on June 22.  As for Lionel Messi – he is yet to win a major international tournament and time is running out with his 31st birthday looming.  A credible performance by the under-dogs  –  with the final score  Argentina  1;  Iceland 1.

Match 7:  Peru versus Denmark [Group C]

This match was  played at the Mondovia Arena in Saransk [at 2am, Sunday 17 June , AEST] between Australia’s other two opponents in this group. Peru were relieved that their star forward Paolo Guerrero was available following the overturning of his 14 month ban for taking cocaine, after a successful last ditch appeal.. With France the Group C favourite [with due respect to the Aussies], neither team wanted to drop points in this game. As with the earlier game, there was no television coverage for this writer, and I’d slept through most of the radio broadcast.  Yussuf Poulsen ruined Peru’s first appearance at a World Cup finals for 36 years on Saturday with the winning goal for Denmark to seal a 1-0 victory in Saransk.   Final score   –  Denmark 1, Peru  0.

 Match 8:  Croatia versus Nigeria  [Group D]

This game was played at the Kaliningrad Stadium at 5am, Sunday, 17 June [AEST].Nigeria are the youngest team in the tournament, and had to face up against a Croatian team powered by one of the tournament’s strongest and most experienced midfields. A strong group, including Argentina and Iceland, the Nigerians had hopes of getting something out of the game for the sake of the young team. The experience of Croatia would prove the difference, with Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and Luka Modric goal gave Croatia a winning start in their World Cup campaign, and also enabled them to grab top spot in Group D at the points table, after the first game of the group [played earlier]  between Argentina and Iceland ended in a 1-1 draw. The African team [the ‘Super Eagles’] were disappointed with the loss – acknowledging that Croatia had performed better, and their team had made some basic mistakes.   The final score  – Croatia 2, Nigeria 0

 Match 9:  Costa Rica versus Serbia  [Group E]

This match took place at the Samara Arena, at 10 pm, Sunday 17 June [AEST].

Serbia captain, Aleksandar Kolarov scored a spectacular free-kick from 25 yards to give Serbia a deserved victory in their opening World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica.leaving  Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas clutching at thin air as he desperately scrambled across goal.  Costa Rica only sporadically threatened the Serbia goal during the game, with an early header over the crossbar from unmarked defender Giancarlo Gonzalez their best effort. With games against Brazil and Switzerland to come, this was a key match for both nations to press their credentials to reach the knockout stages.   Final score was  Serbia  1;  Costa Rica  0.

Match 10:  Germany versus Mexico  [Group F]

Played at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, at 1 am on Monday, 18 June [AEST].,

This game provided a bit of an upset – GERMANY became the third defending champion in the last 16 years to lose its opening match at the World Cup, falling to Mexico 1-0 on Monday morning (AEST).  Hirving Lozano scored the lone goal in the 35th minute.   “I don’t know if it’s the biggest victory in (Mexico’s) history, but one of the biggest for sure,” Lozano said. “It’s great to start on the right foot when you are playing the world champions.”  The Germany coach Joachim Loew was straight to the point:   “We played very badly.”

France in 2002 and Spain in 2014 were the other defending champions to lose their opening matches. Neither of those teams advanced from the group stage. It will be interesting to see how Germany comes back on this occasion.  The final score:   Mexico  1;  Germany 0.

Match 11:  Brazil versus Switzerland  [Group E]

Played at the Rostov Arena  at 5am on Monday, 18 June [AEST].

Brazil failed to win it’s opening World Cup match for the first time in 40 years, having to settle for a draw with the Swiss team. From ABC News  –  Brazil joined the host of big guns who have failed to fire in their opening World Cup game as lax defending from a corner allowed Switzerland to cancel out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular curling strike and grab a 1-1 draw.

The five-times world champions took a deserved lead midway through the first half in the Group E game when Coutinho’s irresistible long-distance shot cannoned in off the far post, but Tite’s side, who had looked so impressive in the tournament build-up, failed to build on their advantage. The highly organised Swiss hit back early in the second period from one of their few chances as Brazil’s Casemiro and Miranda switched off and the unmarked Steven Zuber barely had to leave his feet to nod in Xherdan Shaqiri’s whipped corner.

Brazil went all out in pursuit of a winner and came agonisingly close to finding it but had to settle for a point and joined fellow tournament favourites Germany, Spain and Argentina in failing to win their first game.   Final score: Brazil 1;  Switzerland 1

At this point  in the tournament, the broader Australian population of soccer fans were suddenly given a lifeline of coverage  –  the vastly restricted coverage being supposedly provided by the Optus Network  [which prevented the majority of Australian supporters from seeing most matches live]  had technical problems.  By the end of Tuesday’s competition [Moscow time], because of ongoing difficulties faced by Optus, a welcome and surprising agreement had been reached  – EVERY match during the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be available to Australian football fans on SBS, or for free on the Optus Sport streaming platform. Optus made the bombshell announcement Wednesday afternoon that it would give SBS shared responsibility for delivering the World Cup to Australia after a massive failure of technology left thousands of fans without access to football. “The FIFA World Cup is the absolute pinnacle of football, a sport that Australians are deeply passionate about,” said SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid. “SBS looks forward to continuing to simulcast games, together with Optus for the next ten days.”

As far as I am concerned, this kind of arrangement should have been in place from the beginning of the tournament. But of course these days the power and greed of money over-rides what the broader population wants!!

Match 12:  Sweden versus Korea Republic  [Group F]

Played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium at 10 pm, Monday 18 June [AEST].

From NDTV Sports – Sweden on Monday defeated South Korea 1-0 thanks to a penalty from captain Andreas Granqvist that was awarded after the referee took the help of VAR. Post the 65th-minute goal, the South Koreans tried really hard in the latter stages of the match to find an equaliser but were repelled by a stubborn Swedish defense. The penalty to Sweden was awarded after Kim Min-woo brought down Viktor Claesson with a clumsy challenge in the box. The referee ran to the sidelines to view the video of the incident and immediately pointed to the spot. Granqvist coolly slotted away the penalty to give his team a much-deserved lead. The Swedes were resolute in defence and denied South Korean attackers Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan any opportunity to score    Final Score:  Sweden 1:  Korea Republic 0 

Match 13:  Belgium versus Panama  [Group G]

Played at the Fisht Stadium,Sochi, at 1 am, Tuesday 19 June [AEST]

Belgium went into this game with the absence of some injured defenders. That didn’t stop them –  the match was described as a professional performance against very limited opposition, after what some described as a worryingly sluggish start by Belgium, followed by three second half goals, which saw off Panama who are unlikely to trouble future opposition.   Final score:  Belgium  3;  Panama 0

 Match 14:  Tunisia vs England  [Group G]

Played at the Volgograd Arena at 4am, Tuesday 19 June [AEST].

England went into this match confident of being able to match the most formidable opponents , despite having managed only 6 knockout wins at major tournaments since 1966 – claiming it has the calibre of those players in its team. After  the win early in the evening by Belgium, . England would need a convincing win to overtake Belgium at the summit of Group G. In the game, Tunisia threatened to take one point from it until the closing stages.  Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner ensured England started their World Cup as he scored his second goal of the game with a clever header, and  Gareth Southgate’s side recorded England’s first win in the opening game of a major tournament since they beat Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup…Final Score: England 2, Tunisia  1.

Match 15:  Colombia vs Japan [Group H]

This game was played at the Mordovia Arena, Saransk, at 10 pm, Tuesday 19 June [AEST]. Japan sacked its coach 71 days before the World Cup, but was still confident of proving its doubters wrong, going into tonight’s match. After this match, an interesting report from Fox Sport  –  ‘JAPAN showed once again why they have the best fans at the World Cup after they stayed behind to clean up the stadium following their win against Colombia.  The Asian nation earned their first World Cup victory on European soil after edging out their South American opponents to win 2-1 in their Group H opener,   And the fans celebrated in style by tidying up the ground — just as they had done during the World Cup in Brazil four years ago. Supporters took bin bags with them to the game against Ivory Coast in 2014 — and despite losing — stayed to clean up after themselves.   Final score: Japan 2, Colombia 1

Match 16: Poland vs Senegal [Group H

This game was played at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, at 1 am, Wednesday 20 June [AEST]. It was Poland’s first World Cup match in 12 years.  While Japan became the first Asian nation to topple a South American opponent at a World Cup in the opening game of the night, then it was Senegal who became the first African nation in Russia to score. Senegal completed the chaotic night after defeating Poland 2-1 amid a sea of pure carnage. Poland secured a late goal off of the head of Grzegorz Krychowiak in minute 86, but despite some heavy pressure in the dying minutes they were unable to secure the draw.   Final Score:  Senegal 2,  Poland 1.

Match 17: Russia vs Egypt  [Group A]

To be played at the St. Petersburg Stadium, at 4 am, Wednesday 20 June [AEST]   It would prove to be an exuberant night for the home fans who were given plenty of reasons to cheer as Russia backed up its 5-0 opening win against Saudi Arabia with a 3-1 victory over Egypt.  Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt,  moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.    Final score:  Russia 3, Egypt 1

Match 18:  Portugal vs Morocco  [Group B]

To be played at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow at 10 pm, Wednesday 20 June {AEST]

Portugal is closing in on booking a spot into the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup in Russia after hanging on to beat Morocco, 1-0  to move to four points in Group B.   Portugal’s in form player – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 4th goal of the tournament, just 4 minutes into the match, and while his team was basically restricted from any further scoring, the team from Morocco was unable to find the goals themselves.     Final score:  Portugal  1  Morocco  0

Match 19:  Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia  [Group A]

This game was played at the Rostov Arena, at  1 am, Thursday, 21 June [AEST]

An early goal by Uruquay’s Luis Suerez, led his team to a hard fought victory over Saudi Arabia, and helped to book his team’s place, with Russia, in the knockout stage, while Egypt and Saudi Aravia will both be eliminated. Suarez scored the winner in his 100th international appearance.  Uruquay now play their hosts on June 25 to determine top spot in their Group.    Final score:  Uruquay 1  Saudi Arabia  0

Match 20:  Iran vs Spain  [Group B]

To be played at the Kazan Arena, at 4 am on Thursday, 21 June [AEST]

From the UK Telegraph, the following summary of this game is most apt – ‘Spain beat Iran 1-0 here in Kazan. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Iran were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. Against their elevated opponents, the players of Iran gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort’.  Unfortunately, to no avail.    Final score:  Spain 1  Iran 2

 Match 21:  Denmark vs AUSTRALIA  [Group C]

The one we have been waiting for since last Saturday night  – played at the Samara Arena. A couple of the headlines in Australian media before the game  –  ‘Stopping the Danes half the battle’   –   ‘Denmark shape as daunting opponents in a game the Socceroos will be desperate to win’   –   ‘Denmark pose an aerial threat’………………and so on, suggesting confidence by the Australian public is hopeful rather than high. Australia’s other two Group C opponents played in the match following.

The match was played at the Samara Arena, at 10 pm, 21 June [AEST]

Not a good start, with an early goal to Denmark, but one would have to suggest that the Socceroos held the Danes for the rest of the match, after levelling the scores before halftime, compliments of an Australian penalty goal from the Aussie captain, Jedinek.  But the Aussies could not take advantage of that by kicking second goal. I was a bit annoyed by the media [Australian] praise heaped on the Australians for scoring one point from a draw – while that may have still left Australia with a slim chance of making the next round, it has to be admitted the odds are against them. In terms of the way they played [apart from kicking goals  – our only two scores have come from penalty shots] Australia probably deserved one point from the game against France, and three points against Denmark. But you can’t win if you don’t get the ball into the net!!   Final score:  Denmark 1,  Australia 1.

Match 22:   France vs Peru  [Group C]

This was played at the Ekaterinburg Arena, at 1 am, Friday  22 June [AEST] The result here was expected, and possibly aided Australia’s hopes as we go into our third group match.  By winning, France joined Uruquay, Croatia and host team Russia in the knock-out rounds, and pushed Peru into an early exit.  Despite that, the coach of Peru was appreciative of the support given to his team – “We thank our fans and people [from other countries] will have been surprised by the passion and love our fans have for us….we are sorry that we could not give them a better tournament”.  Peru face Australia early Wednesday morning in their final game –  a match the Aussies ‘must’ win well if they want any hope of advancing. Final score:  France 1,  Peru 0

Match 23:  Argentina vs Croatia  [Group D]

Played at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, at 4 am, Friday 22 June [AEST]

How the great have fallen.  Argentina were crushed by Croatia, to all but but send the South Americans out of the tournament, while ensuring  Croatia a place in the next round.  This defeat  means Argentina [one of the pre-tournament favourites] on the brink of a humiliating first round exit, after losing the 2014 Final to Germany.

At the conclusion of Match 23,  we have four nations likely eliminated with a number of others, including Australia on the brink of exiting –  those eliminated are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Peru

Group point positions after matches 1-23,  completed on Friday morning, AEST, were as follows

  • Group A: Russia [6]; Uruquay [6], Egypt [0], Saudi Arabie [0];
  • Group B: Spain [4]l  Portugal [4], Iran [3], Morocco [0];
  • Group C: France [6], Denmark [4], Australia [1], Peru [0];
  • Group D: Croatia [6], Iceland [1], Argentina [1], Nigeria  [0];
  • Group E: Serbia [3],  Brazil [1], Switzerland [1], Costa Rica [0];
  • Group F: Sweden [3], Mexico [3], Germany [0], South Korea [0];
  • Group G: Belgium [3], England [3], Tunisia [0], Panama [0];
  • Group H: Japan [3], Senegal [3], Poland [0], Colombia [0]

Arising from games played Friday night/early Saturday morning [AEST], you can add the following points to the teams mentioned above   –

  • Group D: Nigeria [+3],
  • Group E: Brazil [+ 3], and  Switzerland [+3]

 

To be continued!!

This article is compiled  from  various reports and historical records, and is essentially presented from the perspective of an Australian supporter [of the ‘Socceroos’]  –  aimed at providing  my summary [as ‘The Coachbuilder’ ]  of outcomes and results of the 64 matches which will make up the 2018 FIFA World Cup over the next four weeks.

The intention is not to provide any consolidated degree of continuous journalistic reporting of individual matches [there are plenty of world and/or local media outlets where detailed reports can be obtained on the minutest of details].  Apart from some introductory background, history, and make-up of the present participants, I will provide a daily update of match results only – of course, with Australia’s participation to the extent to which it lasts,  those results will most likely extend a little beyond a mere score sheet!

I’m aware that FIFA and the World Cup are so often dominated by controversy, including claims of corruption, politics, and disputes over the granting of the venue country for the tournaments.  Now while those things and other issues are important, and indeed a real concern at times,  I intend to concentrate on the ‘competition’ itself, and the sport that will be displayed over the next 4 weeks. Let the players be the centre of attention rather than the officials and administrators, for a while at least.

 

The second instalment will come in at the conclusion the matches played on the 17th June of the Group Stage,  and will continue at various stages following, concluding the Group stage,  and then covering the Round of 16, and the various subsequent Quarters, Semis, and Finals of the tournament.

 

This is in fact, the first World Cup tournament to be held in Eastern Europe, and the first to be held in Europe generally since Germany hosted the 2006 Cup.  It has been conducted in Europe on 11 occasions.  A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities within ‘European’ Russia. . The final will take place on 15 July [Moscow time] at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

 

The FIFA World Cup was first held in 1930, when the then  FIFA president Jules Rimet decided to stage an international football tournament. The inaugural edition, held  that year, was contested as a final tournament of only thirteen teams invited by the organization. Since then, we have seen various expansions and remodelling of the event to the present  32-team final tournament , which was preceded by a two-year qualifying process, involving over 200 teams from around the world.

 

For the record –  in 20 tournaments, only 8 countries have won the World Cup

  • Brazil: [5]  –  2002,1994, 1970, 1962, 1958
  • Germany [4] – 2014, 1990,1974, 1954
  • Italy [4] – 2006, 1982,  1938, 1934
  • Argentina [2] –  1986, 1978
  • Uruguay [2] – 1950, 1930
  • France [1] –  1998
  • Spain [1] –  2010
  • England [1]   –  1966

 

On a year by year basis,  the following table  shows the host nation [in brackets] followed by the winning team [highlighted] that year..

  • 1930 [Uruquay]    Uruquay
  • 1934 [Italy]  Italy
  • 1938  [France] Italy
  • 1950  [Brazil]  Uruquay
  • 1954 [Switzerland]  West Germany
  • 1958  [Sweden]   Brazil
  • 1962 [Chile]  Brazil
  • 1966 [England]   England
  • 1970 [Mexico]   Brazil
  • 1974 [West Germany]  West Germany
  • 1978 [Argentina]
  • 1982 [Spain]   Italy
  • 1986 [Mexico]  Argentina
  • 1990 [Italy] West Germany
  • 1994 [USA]   Brazil
  • 1998 [France]   France
  • 2002 [South Korea/Japan]    Brazil
  • 2006 [Germany]   Italy
  • 2010 [South Africa]   Spain
  • 2014 [Brazil]

 

The 2018 Tournament is  represented by 32 national teams, composed of 8 Groups numbered A to H, with Australia [the Socceroos] placed in Group C.

 

  • Group A: Russia, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
  • Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
  • Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
  • Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
  • Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea Republic
  • Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
  • Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

 

The Tournament Program [starting time:  Australian Eastern Standard Time]

  • Group stage: Friday June 15 [1 am] –  Friday, June 29 [4 am]: 48 matches;
  • Round of 16 Sunday, July 1 [12 am] –  Wednesday, 4 July [4am] : 8 matches;
  • Quarter Final 1: Saturday July 7  [12 am];
  • Quarter Final 2: Saturday July  7  [4 am];
  • Quarter Final 3: Sunday July 8 [12 am];
  • Quarter Final 4: Sunday, July 8 [4am].
  • Semi Final 1: Wednesday, July 11 [4 am];
  • Semi Final 2: Thursday, July 12 [4 am]
  • Third Place Play-Off: Sunday, July 15 [12 am];
  • FINAL: Monday, July 16 [1 am].

 

Tiebreakers

In the group stages, the number of goals scored and conceded can be the difference between advancement and elimination when teams finish on the same number of points. If the difference is equal, the team with the most goals advances. In rare cases, head-to-head records and fair play points may be compared. If all else fails, lots are drawn to determine the winner. These requirements are summarised as follows.

The rankings of teams in each group are determined as follows (regulations Article 32.5)

  • points obtained in all group matches;
  • goal difference in all group matches;
  • number of goals scored in all group matches;

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings are determined as follows:

  • points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
  • goal difference in the group matches between the teams concerned;
  • number of goals scored in the group matches between the teams concerned;

fair play points

  • first yellow card: minus 1 point;
  • indirect red card (second yellow card): minus 3 points;
  • direct red card: minus 4 points;
  • yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points;

drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.

 

Team snapshots

[compliments of the Melbourne Herald & Weekly Times Pty Ltd, and writer Ross McGravie]

  • Argentina

The perennial runners-up will be desperate to win for Lionel Messi.  It is also the last chance for many ageing stars including Sergio Aquera and Angel Di Maria

  • AUSTRALIA

Australia has qualified for its 4th  successive World Cup after the longest and most arduous qualifying campaign that any team has endured in the tournament’s history. The Socceroos  will enter the group stage as the lowest ranked side at 40, but its experience over the past three tournaments  pave the way for an upset or two, and the team should not be underestimated. But in all honesty, optimism cannot be too high!! Simply, lots of hope!!

  • Belgium

Has attacking options  but may struggle to keep out the goals. Can go deep into the tournament if the various combinations click.

  • Brazil

Seeking redemption after being humiliated 7-1 by Germany on home soil in the 2014 semi-final. Easily capable of winning.

  • Colombia

Fourth in the ultra-competitive South American qualifying, will fancy chances of advancing.

  • Costa Rica

A sensation when it made the 2014 quarter-finals, no longer regarded as a minnow having qualified in CONCACAF with two matches to spare.

  • Croatia

Scraped into the finals with a playoff win over Greece. Has talent to repeat 1988’s third placing if it can escape tough group with Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland.

  • Denmark

Has a rich pedigree in major tournaments, and has progressed past the group stage at three of its four World Cup appearances. They are solid in defence.

  • Egypt

A mix of youth and experience led by Essam ‘the high-dam ’El-Hadary. Energy levels could lift after gaining an exemption from Ramadan fasting.

  • England

Usually ends in ignominy or a penalty shootout. Unbeaten in qualifying, luck could take England closer to its first trophy since 1966

  • France

There will be goals aplenty with numerous players vying for a front up front; dark horses for the tournament.

  • Germany

After winning the 2017 Confederations Cup with a second –string side, coach Joachim Low won’t be short of options

  • Iceland

The surprise of UEFA Euro 2016, where it reached the quarter finals, the tiny nation has produced a team capable of packing a bigger punch than Bjork.

  • Iran

First Asian side to qualify, and playing in its second successive World Cup after 12 consecutive clean sheets.

  • Japan

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic was replaced by Akira Nishino who removed Japan’s biggest stars to adopt a counter attacking game style

  • Korea Republic

A fixture at the World Cup since 1986, it will need to break the goal-scoring shackles in pool matches against Sweden and Mexico to survive.

  • Mexico

Rarely lacking confidence, always thinks big and has the benefit  of playing at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

  • Morocco

Competes for the 5th time but first since 1998. Organisation will ultimately  dictate games played – particularly after meeting Spain, Portugal and Iran.

  • Nigeria

Expect the unexpected. Long tipped the nation to become Africa’s  first World Cup winners after numerous  successes at youth level.

  • Panama

Makes its World Cup debut with one of the oldest line-ups. First objective is to avoid being smacked like the 6-0 friendly loss to Switzerland in March.

  • Peru

This is a no-nonsense counter-attacking team that scored 16 of its 24 goals in South American qualifying when it won the ball in its opposition’s half  – ‘not a team of stars but rather of players who have earned their stripes’ says coach Ricardo Gareca.

  • Poland

Qualified comfortably ahead of Denmark, Australia’s opponents, and will be favoured to advance. Little chance of winning the lot, but anything is possible from a side that continues  to fly under the radar.

  • Portugal

There’s enough quality in the talent-ridden squad – featuring players who ply their trade in most leagues from Scotland and Turkey to England and Russia – to suggest Portugal can continue to  defy expectations.

  • Russia

Dangerous attack and plenty of promising youngsters who could use the experience to push for greater success at Qatar in 2022.

  • Saudi Arabia

Squeezed Aussies out of automatic Asian qualification spot and into the play-offs. Unpredictable at the best of times.

  • Senegal

Returning for the first time since the 2002 quarter-final. Enough personalities to ensure its Russian adventure will be exciting.

  • Serbia

The rakia will be flowing  if this team of seasoned professionals can advance from a tough group. More than enough quality and experience to do so.

  • Spain

This is the perfect stage for the La Roja pioneers to exit on a high while show casing the very best of ‘the beautiful game’

  • Sweden

Ziatan Ibrahimovic’s retirement could yet shape the destiny of this side, which struggled to qualify without him.

  • Switzerland

Won 9 of 10 games in qualifying before losing to Portugal and was forced to beat Northern Ireland in the playoffs.

  • Tunisia

Attack-minded coach and had plenty of fight and sped, but jury’s out over defence. One of the major outsiders

  • Uruguay

Finishing second behind Brazil in qualifying was a significant achievement  for the two-time winners [1930 and 1950].

 

Australia’s three Group matches are scheduled as follows [AEST]:

France versus Australia:  Saturday, June 16 at 8 pm.

Denmark versus Australia: Thursday, June 21 at 10 pm.

Australia versus Peru:  Wednesday, June 27 at 12 am

 

Australia’s road to Russia.

Asian qualifying results

  • Australia 2-0 Iraq [Perth]
  • UAE 0-1 Australia [Abu Dhabi]
  • Saudi Arabia 2-2 Australia [Jeddah]
  • Australia 1-1 Japan [Melbourne]
  • Thailand 2-2 Australia [Bangkok]
  • Iraq 1-1 Australia [Tehran]
  • Australia 2-0 UAE [Sydney]
  • Australia 3-2 Saudi Arabia [Adelaide]
  • Japan 2-0 Australia [Saitama]
  • Australia 25-1 [Thailand]

Round 4

  • Syria 1-1 Australia [Krubong]
  • Australia 2-1 Syria [Sydney]

Intercontinental play-off

  • Honduras 0-0 Australia [San Pedro Sula]
  • Australia 3-1 Honduras [Sydney]

 

The  Socceroos final 23 man   2018 Squad

[comments from Bet365]

In goal, Mat Ryan, Brad Jones and Danny Vukovic have all been picked as possible number ones, with Ryan favourite to retain his spot between the sticks after a strong first season in the English Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion.

At the back, Trent Sainsbury is certain to make up one part of the centre back pairing with Mark MilliganMilos Degenek and Matt Jurman all vying to partner him.

Along the defensive flanks, Aziz Behich and Josh Risdon are near certain of starting spots with Millwall’s James Meredith providing back up.

Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak has predominantly played as a holding midfielder for Australia but don’t rule out the Aston Villa man playing alongside Sainsbury in defence.

Jedinak’s possible switch comes with Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo, Jackson Irvine and Tom Rogic all providing attractive central midfield options after strong clubs seasons in Europe.

On the wings, Mathew Leckie has made the right his own, while Robbie Kruse is close to locking down the left. Potential competition looms in the form of A-League duo Daniel Arzani and Dimitri Petratos , with both capable of providing a spark on either flank if called upon.

Up top, Tomi Juric has been named but is battling to overcome a knee injury with Jamie Maclaren called in as back-up.

Also looking to bang in the goals are Andrew Nabbout, who can also play out wide, and Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill.

Despite a lack of club minutes, Cahill has secured selection for a fourth World Cup and should he score in Russia will become just the fourth player in history to do so at four World Cups.

 

Bring on the game.

 

Meanwhile, a report today [14 June]  from the ‘Age newspaper’ [Dominic Bossi]  –

“They might be nearly 14,000 kilometres away but the Socceroos have been made to feel at home at their training base in Kazan. Tailored sleeping arrangements and a reminder of their loved ones have provided the personal touch for Bert van Marwijk’s squad ahead of their formidable World Cup opener against France. Players were surprised by the national team staff gesture when they were met with photos of their nearest and dearest by their hotel room beds. In an attempt to give the players every mental edge, Socceroos staff asked players’ families to supply three photos each to be put up. The gesture was a welcome addition for the players as they arrived at the Korston Complex in Kazan, where they’ll spend the majority of their time in Russia….”

 

Bring on the football!!

 

The Group Stages

Using Australian Eastern Standard Time [AEST],  the FIFA 2018 World Cup got under way with the Opening Ceremony, at about Midnight, on the morning of 15 June here. I didn’t see it, but I did watch most of the opening match featuring World Cup hosts, Russia, against Saudi Arabia.

 

Match 1;  Russia versus Saudi Arabia. [Group A]

These were the two lowest ranked teams at the Tournament – on FIFA rankings, Russia in 70th spot, and Saudi Arabia 67th. In the Group they have drawn, Russia would go into this first match [played at 1 am AEST]  with high hopes of getting through to the next round for the first time in more than 30 years. If they were going to win a game, this was their big chance against the Saudis who have come into the tournament following on from three successive losses to Italy, Peru and Germany.

Russia went into this game, played at 1 am, Friday, 15 June [AEST] at the 80,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium [described as the crucible of Russian and Soviet sport,  without a victory in over months, so there would be a lot of pressure on the host team prior to this match.  Despite a brief threatening move by the Saudis early in the 2nd half, the Russians didn’t let their home crowd supporters down, going on to a convincing win over the luckless Saudis –   Russia  5,  Saudi Arabia  0

 

There was no TV coverage by either SBS or Foxtel of Games 2 and 3  –  but this supporter found BBC radio descriptions [in English] on SBS Radio 2.

 

Match 2: Egypt versus Uruquay  [Group A]

Played at the Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg [new capacity of 35,000], at 10 pm AEST, 15 June –  described as a weak looking Group A, especially following Saudi Arabia capitulation earlier this morning,  Egypt’s success may well have depended on the availability of star player Mohamad Salah who suffered a shoulder injury in Liverpool’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid three weeks ago, and has been battling to get fit on a day by day basis.  Meantime, Uruquay’s top scorer – Luis Suarez – has insisted he is a much more mature player since sparking controversy in his previous two World Cup tournaments. The Barcelona forward prevented a certain goal for Ghana with a deliberate handball on the line in 2010, and then infamously bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil in 2014.

As for the match, this was the first of two last minute wins .  At halftime, with the scores locked at 0-0, Egypt would probably have been feeling satisfied to have reached that point without conceding a goal to the highly fancied South American team.  However,  it was in the 89th minute of the match,  that Uruguay scored against a brave Egyptian team, – with  the Jose Gimenez late talley from Sanchez  being enough to seal the win. It was the first opening match win for Uruguay since 1970.

Final score:    Uruquay  1  Egypt 0

 

Match 3: Morocco versus Iran [Group B]

Scheduled for 1 am [AEST] Saturday 16 June –   Iran in the days leading up to this match, found their preparation disrupted, as they were without boots. Their supplier, Nike, could not provide any because of Donald Trump’s  re-imposition of economic sanctions against Iran.  The team called for assistance from FIFA, other team numbers, or by making purchases from Russian shops. Apart from that, Iran headed into the match after a difficult build-up, with friendlies against Greece and Kosova being cancelled. However, there was some confidence –  they knew much about the Moroccan team but doubted the opposition had much knowledge about the Iranians.

The match was played at St. Petersburg Stadium, apparently designed in a modern ‘space-ag’ format!!

In the first match for Group B, Iran waited until the 96th minute to open the scoring, sealing their win. An own goal in the 6th minute of stoppage time was what it took for Iran to scrape a victory from Morocco. Morocco has still never won their opening World Cup match, while the result gave Iran a rare win at the World Cup finals competition.   Final score:   Iran 1, Morocco 0.

Match 4: Portugal versus Spain  [Group B]

This game was played at the Fisht Stadium in Socchi, at 4am [AEST] Saturday 16 June.  I’d watch a replay later in the day, but it proved to be the best game of the tournament so far, with the teams not separated at the end of the match, and predictions that Portugal, in particular, could go far in this tournament.  Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain’s Diego Costa traded goals back and forth until Nacho took a beautiful strike from distance to give Spain their first lead in the 58th minute. In the end however, Cristiano Ronaldo created the highlight of the match, by  completing a hat trick of goals in the 88th minute – a  free-kick that clinched a valuable point from the match for Portugal to earn the draw. Both Spain and Portugal will both receive one point in the standings.  Final score  –   Portugal 3; Spain 3.

 

Match 5:  France versus AUSTRALIA  [Group C]

In a match, described by one media outlet as the ‘Princes versus the Paupers’ [on the basis of transfer fee values for the respective team players – the Aussie players ‘valued at $50million, against the estimated $1billion for the French team], it was perhaps hopeful optimism on my part to suggest that was one thing in Australia’s favour  –  France are traditionally slow starters in major tournaments. In 4 of their last 8 major events, France failed to score with a record of 3 wins, 1 loss, and 4 draws, and 2 of those wins were sealed with last minute scores. The Australians, going into this match, felt that if they could avoid conceding an early goal, they would give themselves a strong chance of continuing France’s opening game record.

Before looking at the outcome, a brief look back at Australia’s four previous World Cup appearances.

  • 1974 [Germany]: Lost 0-2 to East Germany; Lost 0-3 to West Germany; Drew 0-0 with Chile.
  • 2006 [Germany]: Won 3-1 over Japan;  Lost 0-2 to Brazil; Drew 2-2 with Croatia.  Second Round: Lost 0-1 to Italy [from a last minute penalty].
  • 2010 [South Africa]: Lost 0-4 to Germany;  Drew 1-1 with Ghana;  Won 2-1 over Serbia.
  • 2014 [Brazil]: Lost 1-3 to Chili;  Lost 2-36 to Netherlands;  Lost 0-3 to Spain

In any case, the 2018 opening match for the Socceroos was played at the Kazan Arena, ay 8 pm [AEST], on Saturday 16 June.  As it eventuated, Tim Cahill, the Socceroos all- time leading goal scorer and veteran of 3 World Cups, did not make it onto the pitch in this game.  Irrespective of the pre-match ‘one-sided’ nature between the two teams, more than 7000 Aussies turned the Russian city of Kazan, hoping their team could defy the odds.

By halftime, the score was 0-0 –  Australia had managed to hold the French out, and looking reasonably confident of continuing that way. However a penalty shot 58 minutes in, gave France the opening goal, yet 4 minutes later, Australia responded in similar vein, with an equalising goal from a penalty shot.  However, at 81 minutes,  a brief lapse on defence [that’s all it needs],  and a goal to France, gave them back the lead.

It could be described as a brave performance, pushing France to the limit, though I found the commentator’s comment of a ‘fantastic’ effort by Australia a little annoying  –  ‘they didn’t win’!!  However, the view is, second spot in the group, behind France,  is up for grabs  –  Australia’s two other opponents in the group would play each other a few hours later.

Final score:  France 2; Australia 1.

[local paper headlines on Sunday morning included –  So far from disgrace  – Van Narwijk proud of valiant team  –  Unlucky defeat’s upsides   –  Roos suffer hi-tech torture  –  Bad luck boys, bring on the Danes   –  Paupers but Aussie fans don’t care].

 

Match 6:  Argentina versus Iceland  [Group D]

This game was played at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, at 11 pm [AEST] Saturday, 16 June

Argentina’s Lionel Messi [the five time world player of the year] did not go into this game taking Iceland lightly –  “Iceland showed they could compete with anyone at the last Euros” he said. Yet there was criticism of his team [which lost the 2014 World Cup to Germany] claiming that too much was focused on Messi against a ‘band of grafters’ who pride themselves on teamwork [and revel in their underdog status].

From one report –  While the result was not on the scale of that Iceland produced to eliminate England from Euro 2016, it was a major boost for the tiny nation, who retain hopes of advancing from a group that also includes Nigeria and Croatia.  The island nation of 330,000 is the smallest country to ever qualify for the finals but emphatically showed they can mix it with the heavyweights.

In front of a raucous crowd at the 45,000-capacity venue, Iceland launched into some early physical challenges and rattled Argentina. Argentina must regroup before facing Croatia on Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, while Iceland face Nigeria in Volgograd on June 22.  As for Lionel Messi – he is yet to win a major international tournament and time is running out with his 31st birthday looming.  A credible performance by the under-dogs  –  with the final score  Argentina  1;  Iceland 1.

 

Match 7:  Peru versus Denmark [Group C]

This match was  played at the Mondovia Arena in Saransk [at 2am, Sunday 17 June , AEST] between Australia’s other two opponents in this group. Peru were relieved that their star forward Paolo Guerrero was available following the overturning of his 14 month ban for taking cocaine, after a successful last ditch appeal.. With France the Group C favourite [with due respect to the Aussies], neither team wanted to drop points in this game. As with the earlier game, there was no television coverage for this writer, and I’d slept through most of the radio broadcast.  Yussuf Poulsen ruined Peru’s first appearance at a World Cup finals for 36 years on Saturday with the winning goal for Denmark to seal a 1-0 victory in Saransk.

Final score   –  Denmark 1, Peru  0.

 

Match 8:  Croatia versus Nigeria  [Group D]

This game was played at the Kaliningrad Stadium at 5am, Sunday, 17 June [AEST].Nigeria are the youngest team in the tournament, and had to face up against a Croatian team powered by one of the tournament’s strongest and most experienced midfields. A strong group, including Argentina and Iceland, the Nigerians had hopes of getting something out of the game for the sake of the young team. The experience of Croatia would prove the difference, with Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and Luka Modric goal gave Croatia a winning start in their World Cup campaign, and also enabled them to grab top spot in Group D at the points table, after the first game of the group [played earlier]  between Argentina and Iceland ended in a 1-1 draw. The African team [the ‘Super Eagles’] were disappointed with the loss – acknowledging that Croatia had performed better, and their team had made some basic mistakes.

The final score  – Croatia 2, Nigeria 0

 

Match 9:  Costa Rica versus Serbia  [Group E]

This match took place at the Samara Arena, at 10 pm, Sunday 17 June [AEST].

Serbia captain, Aleksandar Kolarov scored a spectacular free-kick from 25 yards to give Serbia a deserved victory in their opening World Cup Group E match against Costa Rica.leaving  Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas clutching at thin air as he desperately scrambled across goal.  Costa Rica only sporadically threatened the Serbia goal during the game, with an early header over the crossbar from unmarked defender Giancarlo Gonzalez their best effort. With games against Brazil and Switzerland to come, this was a key match for both nations to press their credentials to reach the knockout stages.

Final score was  Serbia  1;  Costa Rica  0.

 

Match 10:  Germany versus Mexico  [Group F]

Played at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, at 1 am on Monday, 18 June [AEST].,

This game provided a bit of an upset – GERMANY became the third defending champion in the last 16 years to lose its opening match at the World Cup, falling to Mexico 1-0 on Monday morning (AEST).  Hirving Lozano scored the lone goal in the 35th minute.   “I don’t know if it’s the biggest victory in (Mexico’s) history, but one of the biggest for sure,” Lozano said. “It’s great to start on the right foot when you are playing the world champions.”  The Germany coach Joachim Loew was straight to the point:   “We played very badly.”

France in 2002 and Spain in 2014 were the other defending champions to lose their opening matches. Neither of those teams advanced from the group stage. It will be interesting to see how Germany comes back on this occasion.

The final score:   Mexico  1;  Germany 0.

 

 

Match 11:  Brazil versus Switzerland  [Group E]

Played at the Rostov Arena  at 5am on Monday, 18 June [AEST].

Brazil failed to win it’s opening World Cup match for the first time in 40 years, having to settle for a draw with the Swiss team. From ABC News  –  Brazil joined the host of big guns who have failed to fire in their opening World Cup game as lax defending from a corner allowed Switzerland to cancel out Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular curling strike and grab a 1-1 draw.

The five-times world champions took a deserved lead midway through the first half in the Group E game when Coutinho’s irresistible long-distance shot cannoned in off the far post, but Tite’s side, who had looked so impressive in the tournament build-up, failed to build on their advantage. The highly organised Swiss hit back early in the second period from one of their few chances as Brazil’s Casemiro and Miranda switched off and the unmarked Steven Zuber barely had to leave his feet to nod in Xherdan Shaqiri’s whipped corner.

Brazil went all out in pursuit of a winner and came agonisingly close to finding it but had to settle for a point and joined fellow tournament favourites Germany, Spain and Argentina in failing to win their first game.

Final score: Brazil 1;  Switzerland 1

 

To be continued

 

 


 

I’ve spoken about Darren Weir previously in this column, and have decided on this occasion to follow his fortunes at the May, 2018 carnival of racing at Warrnambool in the southwest of Victoria.

Darren Weir has been leading Country Trainer in Victoria since 2005 [and Australia wide in more recent years], and  is generally regarded as a perfectionist by nature , leaving no stone unturned, in getting the greatest ability out of each horse.  Over the period 2009/2010 to 2016/2017, his winning strike rate ranged between 13.7 % [2012/2013] to 17.8% [2013/2014], while in the current year, his present winning rate is 15.1%, including 152 metropolitan wins and 7 Group One victories.  In the 2016/2017 season, of 2,686 runners, his results were 449 [1st], 355 [2nd], and 323 [3rd] for total prizemoney in that year alone of $24,650,054.

From various published profiles, we learn that  Darren was born in Berriwillock, a tiny Mallee District town in Victoria, whose population is only slightly more than the total number of staff Darren now employs across his vast thoroughbred racing business. Darren left school at age 15 and quickly sought to learn and experience all he could about horses, including a period working at the world renowned Lindsay Park training complex. He spent a few months working in a stable in Ireland, and on returning to Australia, Darren worked again  at the  Lindsay Park Stud.  In 1990, he moved to Stawell and began working as a farrier, servicing trainers in the Wimmera and Western District areas of Victoria. Weir began breaking-in horses for a large state wide client base.

He eventually obtained his Owner-Trainer License in 1995 and his Full License in 1997. When he relocated to Ballarat in August 2001, he purchased  the Ballarat establishment Forest Lodge and  major renovations and extensions were undertaken and the facilities have  constantly being  upgraded since then.  The property has top class facilities and is becoming a Centre of training excellence. The utmost priority is for the facilities to be safe for the horses and staff. This ensures that the horses receive the best care available and are happy in their environment.  The Ballarat stable has a swimming pool, 2 walking machines, indoor & outdoor riding arenas, 2 undercover treadmills and hyperbaric stables & treadmill.  There is also a 1400m uphill synthetic track located at the Ballarat racecourse.  Darren also has a training complex at Warrnambool which has access to the beach, treadmill, water walker and swimming pool.

For this article, I’m directing particular interest to his recent involvement at the annual Warrnambool racing and jumps carnival, held at the beginning of May, each year, by the Warrnambool Racing Club. The Club is steeped  in over 160 years of history, and annually hosts some of Victoria’s  premier jumps races.  Warrnambool is a regional centre and former port city on the south-western coast of Victoria, with at June 2016, an estimated urban population of 34,618.  The city is situated on the southern coastal region of Victoria at the western end of the historic  Great Ocean Road.

In 2017,   Darren Weir trained 14 winners over the 3 day carnival at Warrnambool [from a total of 46 starters across 30 races]. On Day 1 [4 winners], Day 2 [5] and Day 3 [5]   He also had four winners on Day 1 in 2016, and as we will see, he would repeat that feat on the first day of the 2018 carnival  John Allen, the jockey who rides both flat and jumps races on a regular basis for Weir, himself  rode 7 winners over the 3 days of the 2017 carnival,   the most ever for a single jockey at the carnival.

But Weir himself would be non-plussed about his chances of repeating his 2017 figures this year  –  as one journalist wrote on Tuesday prior to the carnival “In Darren Weir’s inimitable style, he’s talking down his prospects at Warrnambool this week, saying, ‘I’d be happy to get a winner a day’. There’s little doubt because of weight of numbers, that Weir will achieve that aim, and it’s more a case of how many winners he can train each day….Numbers wise, Weir’s assault is even stronger this year. He has 63 runners – 16 on Tuesday [3 were scratched], 23 on Wednesday, and 24 on Thursday. ‘I’m pretty sure 14 won’t be happening again’, he said…………….If you had put $1 on all of Weir’s starters at Warrnambool last year, you would have received a return of $95.70 for their $46 outlay”.  This writer is hoping for that kind of return in 2018,  on a slightly larger [though quite small compared to most punters] ‘investment’ on the great trainer’s success rate!

Day One of the Carnival, Tuesday, May 1st.

Day One  began with a big program of 10 races, to get the  2018 carnival underway, and the Weir stables would have  a total of  13 horses competing in all but one of the races. The day’s program would include four Hurdle races, and one Steeple event [which would be one of five feature races over the three days].

 Race 1: George Taylor Memorial Hurdle [3200 metres]  –  No. 1: Bit Of A Lad [John Allen]:  [3rd ].  9 starters:  started out last:, and stayed that way still halfway through the race, but came home strongly under John Allen to finish a long third behind the two leaders  – race won by the first favourite of the day ‘Cougar Express [Jockey: Brad McLean, trainer Jarrod A McLean] – local brothers!! All 9 horses around safely. My price: $1.95 for the place.

Race 2: TAB Hurdle: [3200 metres] –  No. 5: It’s A Silvertrail [John Allen] :  [2nd.]  My odds on Unibet: $3.70 and $1.60. Started as the favourite, and got off to a good start and was amongst the leaders throughout the race – in the final 100 metres, Silvertrail had the race at it’s mercy, but a strong finish by the stayer, Kothu Rotti, ridden by C Douglas, trainer John McArdle [another Warrnambool trainer]. All 9 horses around safely.

Race 3: Choices Flooring Maiden Hurdle  [3200 metres]:  No. 3: Danesai [John Allen]. [ 4th ].  11 starters. My odds: $5.50 and $2.10.  This horse was near the rear of the field for much of the race, but another strong ride towards the end of the race, saw Weir’s horse just miss out on the third placing  – his horses run 4th so many times [and in my view, try to come from too far behind, too late!!]. Anyway, the winner: Flying Casino, ridden by L. Horner, trained by Eric Musgrove [veteran jumps trainer].  All gorses appeared to get around safely.

Race 4:  Simons Waterfront Plate, [1200 metres]:  No. 5: Night Falls [Damian Lane] – two other Weir entries were scratched [Chouxter, and Helcrimson] . [ First] There were 13 starters in this first of the flat races.  A bit of a worry for the trainer, dropping the horse back to the 1200 metres, but then in the closing stages, at the race favourite, Night Falls powered away, and Weir was relieved [as were the punters] to finally get a win after 4 races on Day 1. My odds: $1.85 & $1.16. The winner: Night Falls [Damien Lane – Darren Weir].

Race 5: Callaghan Motors Vobis Gold Strike [1000 metres]. Two horses for Weir –  She’s Our Reward [Dean Yendall] [5th]  and Limeshow [Damien Lane] [6th] , my odds were $5.00 & $1.85, and $6.50 & $2.15. Neither horse really in with a chance over the 1000 metres and finished in the middle of the field of 9 starters.  Winner was debut starter Write Enuff [Craig Williams –   Kevin Keys].

Race 6: 3YB Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeple  [3450 metres]:    Now and Zen [John Allen].  Lost rider!!   There were 11 starters.  My odds: $7.00 & $2.35.  Disaster at the first jump  –  Now And Zen threw his jockey, John Allen, and a short while later, the riderless Weir horse ran  another of the horses off the track, resulting in 9 horses finishing the race. Jockey John Allen was okay, he walked back to the stalls.  The winner was the local horse Gold Medals, ridden by Shayne Jackson, trained by Symon Wilde. The defending champion, favourite, and top weight, Zen Em came in second, just.

Race 7: Cally Hotel Handicap  [2350 metres]:  Big Hammer [Dean Yendall]. [First]  11 starters in this race, my odds  $3.60 & $1.55.  Horse position not looking good for the first 1500 metres or so, and then Yendall encouraged the horse to go forward, and as they entered the long straight,  Big Hammer away, and despite a late challenge from the second placed horse, it was another strong Weir win, one of many he has achieved in this race, and his second win for the day [still half of his winners last year, with 5 horses still in the running.  Winner: Big Hammer [Dean Yendall- Darren Weir].

Race 8:  I Am Warrnambool Handicap  [1700 metres].  Weir has the top three weighted runners in this race  –  Grand Dreamer [Fred Kersley], Tradesman [John Allen] [First], and Mongolian Wolf [Damian Lane] [3rd]  My odds are, in the above horse order – $23.00 & $4.80; $1.95 & $1.16; and $9.50 & $2.45.  There were 10 starters, but a beautiful ride by John Allen [after a frustrating start to the day, including  being thrown off his horse in the Steeplechase], and when he went for home on Tradesman, the race was soon over.  The third Weir horse came in third position.  Winner:  Tradesman [John Allen – Darren Weir].

Race 9: Carlton Draught Handicap  [1000 metres].  No Weir horse, Choisborder was entered but scratched overnight.  The race had a big field of 15 starters for the sprint down the straight.  Winner:  Manhattan Spirit [Damien Thornton – Mattie Williams]

Race 10: Idetect Handicap  [1200 metres]:  Weir horses were Jaws Of Steel [Damian Lane] [First]  and Accreditation [Dean Yendall]   We had 11 starters in the final race of Day 1.  And the race brought up Win No. 4 for Darren Weir [for the third year in a row], with Jaws Of Steel charging to the front in the final stages and going on with it.  Accreditation finished back in the middle pack.  The winner:  Jaws Of Steel [Damian Lane – Darren Weir]

From one report of the day’s racing [from the Weir aspect], Michal Manley [Herald Sun] wrote  “It was an action-packed Brierly [Steeple] early as Now And Zen lost rider John Allen at the first fence. The riderless Now And Zen then went left and  ran Zataglio off the track at the second fence. Trainer Darren Weir wasn’t certain whether Now And Zen would run in the Grand Annual [Steeple on Thursday] as he thought missing a run in the Brierly could affect his chances of seeing out the 5,500m. Allen bounced back two races later to win on the Weir-trained Tradesman”.

Day Two of the Carnival, Wednesday, May 2nd.

 With Day 2 approaching, Darren Weir had 23 horses entered to start in 9 of the 10 races on the card, including Hale Soriano in the 3,450 metre  Steeple, and Ancient King in the 3,200 metre Galleywood Hurdle. By morning, he had scratched two horses,  leaving 21 to run.

As for today’s two Jumps races, Hale Soriano in the Steeple has been racing consistently over the smaller jumps, and the experts see no reason why the horse will not go close to winning this race, in which it will likely start as the favourite.  The horse  is a 7yo chestnut gelding (male) from United Kingdom and was sired by the stallion Halling out of the dam Sureyya. Hale Soriano has managed to win 5 races in his career so far. Ancient King, in the feature Hurdle race, as the top weight, has been racing recently in flat races with not surprisingly,  no success apart from achieving the desired race fitness, but now gets back over the jumps where he has a super record, and can win. Ancient King is a 8yo brown or black gelding (male) from Ireland, and was  sired by the stallion Ramonti out of the dam Queen Of Rap.   The horse has managed to win 11 races in his career so far. On 6th Aug 2017 at Sandown Lakeside, Ancient King scored one of  his most significant wins in the Grand National Hurdle.

Race 1: Winning Edge Presentations Maiden [1400 metres]:  Weir had three starters in this  8 horse race  –  Donndubhan [John Allen] [4th],  Truly High [Damian Lane] [First] and Champagne Friday [Dean Yendall] [2nd].  My odds for the race in order of the three mentioned horses –  $5.50 & $1.65; $3.90 & $1.40, and $4.20 & $1.45.  Weir got the Quinella with this race [in fact, the three Weir horses finished in the first 4 placings]  –  with the more fancied  Champagne Friday just beaten on the line by stablemate Truly High, a perfect start for the man of our project!!  Winner: Truly High [Damian Lane – Darren Weir].

Race 2: Warrnambool Football/Netball Maiden  [1700 metres]: there were no Weir horses in this race.  Winner:  Aljamaal [Luke Nolan – M.A.Townsend]

Race 3: Warrnambool Greyhound RC Maiden [1700 metres]: Two Weir horses in this race  –  Big Bad Baz [Brad Rawiller] [First] and Count Zero [John Allen] [3rd]. My odds – $1.65 & $1.08, and $7.50 & $1.85.   I didn’t see this race initially, but it proved to be yet another success for Darren Weir [Win No. 6 for the carnival], with Big Bad Baz winning as the clear favourite on this occasion, with Weir’s other horse coming in third in a small field.  The winner:  Big Bad Baz [Brad Rawiller – Darren Weir]

Race 4: Decron Dunroe Steeple  [3450 metres]: Weir’s runner was Hale Soriano [John Allen] [FF] with my odds being $3.50 & $1.45.  Unfortunately, our runner did not finish the race  –  racing around 3rd/4th for most of the raced, the horse stumbled at the third last jump, and fell right back at the tail of the field, and was apparently pulled up by Allen.  The winner:  The Dominator [Steven Pateman – Henry Dwyer] –  this horse led from the start of the race,  was literally dominating and setting a dashing tempo, and for a large part of the race was 8-10 lengths in front of all others in the field of 8 starters, and looked likely to go all the way without being seriously challenged – but, after 3,400 metres, the last 50 metres proved a thrilling finish with second-placed King Kamada also stealing the race at the end!! It would almost have being an injustice for The Dominator to lose.

Race 5:  Bottle – O Warrnambool Maiden [1700 metres]  –  again, we had the two Weir horses in a field of  10 starters –  Golden Song [John Allen] [2nd], and Set With Jewels [Dean Yendall] [3rd].  My odds were $9.50 & $2.80, and $8.00 & $2.55 respectively.  On this occasion, the Weir horses finished together behind the eventual winner, yet another local horse and trainer..  Winner:  Von Mystic [Damian Lane – Aaron Purcell].

 Race 6: Galleywood Hurdle  [3200 metres]: the Weir runner was Ancient King [John Allen] [3rd] in a small field of just six runners. Odds on Ancient King were  $2.40 & $1.45. This race was the second of the five feature races over the three day carnival.   The ‘King’ got off to a strong start, jumped well, but halfway through the race came under challenge  from the eventual winner  –  Two Hats, which fell in this race last year –  another local winner, very well received by the patriotic Warrnambool crowd, while Ancient King finished back in third place, with no third dividend due to the small field.  Winner:  Two Hats [Braidon Small – Aaron Purcell].

Race 7: Silvan Ridge Futurity   [1400 metres]:  the Weir horses were Sarkozy [John Allen] [9th] and Allspice [Dean Yendall] [7th], with odds of  $23.00 & $6.00, and $11.00 & $3.40, not two of the stable’s best chances for the day.  One of the earlier favourites for the race was another Weir horse, Furion, which was scratched overnight.  Both horses proved not to be a chance, and finished back in the field of 12 horses..   Winner:  the favourite, Honey Esprit [Ms Jamie Kah –  C.W.McDonald].

Race 8: Wangoom Handicap [1200 metres]; Weir horses here total four of a field of 15 starters.  They were:  Ulmann [John Allen] [6th],   Stellar Collision [Brad Rawiller] [2nd],  Ozi Choice [Damian Lane] [5th],  and Handsome Thief [Dean Yendall] [First].   My odds on each horse were  $14.00 & $4.20; $8.00 & $2.75;  $12.00 & $3.70;  and $4.60 & $1.90.  This race was the second of today’s feature races, two more features to come tomorrow, and is described by some as the ‘Newmarket Handicap’ of the ‘bush’.  Last year, the race was Quinelled by the Weir team with Ullman and Stellar Collision.  The trainer did it again,  with his second Quinella for the day, and with last year’s  unlucky runner-up beaten into second place again, behind the race favourite, Handsome Thief. The other two Weir runners finished just outside the placings in 5th and 6th positions.  Winner:  Handsome Thief [Dean Yendall – Darren Weir].

Race 9:  Sinclair Wilson  [1700 metres]:  a race of eleven starters including three Weir horses –  Lucky For All [Dean Yendall] [First],  Heavenly Thought [Brad Rawiller] [2nd],  and Zedinator [John Allen] [5th].  My odds backed were $2.05 & $1.18; $3.00 & $1.34; and $19.00 & $4.00, a couple of likely chances included there.  Would you believe   – yet another race Quinella to the Weir stables –  Lucky For All [the favourite] wins, ahead of Heavenly Thought, and Weir has his 4th winner for the day.  Mind you, the winner had to fight off his stable mate in the closing stages, after a brilliant ride by Yendall along the fence.  Winner:  Lucky For All [Dean Yendall – Darren Weir].

Race 10: Warrnambool Hyundai  [1400 metres] –  with the scratching of Nacar, Weir still had three starters in this race of 14 horses. They were – Think Babe [Dean Yendall] [3rd], Minoan Spirit [Harry Coffey] [12th], and Kevin’s Time [Declan Bates] [7th],  with odds of  $2.90 & $1.45; $21.00 & $6.00; and $34.00 & $9.00.   Think Babe, the favourite took the lead in the straight, but was soon challenged and beaten into 3rd place.  The other two Weir horses were never a chance, despite Kevin’s Time threatening to move forward in the middle stages.  Winner:  The Mood I’m In [Jarrod Fry –  Vince Malady].

In summary, Darren Weir would end the day’s program with other 4 winners.  He celebrated his 48th birthday today with those four winners at Warrnambool, including the Quinella in the feature flat race, the Wangoom Handicap (1200m), with Handsome Thief defeating Stellar Collision. Weir has trained eight winners for the carnival but needs another six on Thursday to equal his record of 14 set last year   Last year he ended the second day on nine winners and that looked almost certain to be the case as his galloper Think Babe was well clear in the straight in the last race but was run down by The Mood I’m In close to the line and weakened to finish third.  Prior to that he had won races with Truly High ($6.50), Big Bad Baz ($1.55), Handsome Thief ($2.90) and Lucky For All ($1.95). He also trained four seconds and four thirds from his 19 starters and Quinealled three races.

Talking afterwards, both Weir and jockey Dean Yendall paid homage to the stable’s track walker Darren Murphy.  Weir said Murphy had a plan for his each of his starters and it made the difference in a competitive race such as the Wangoom Handicap. “He had a plan as to where they should position and the jockeys got it 100 per cent right,” Weir said.

Day Three of the Carnival, Thursday, May 3rd.

From the Weir websites, we read that for Thursday, Weir had a strong hand as he attempts to win the Warrnambool Cup for a fifth consecutive year with four runners headed by the $2.90 favourite Kiwia, the second favourite at $5 Yogi, Gallic Chieftain at $9.50 and Master Of Arts at $13.  Weir, though, is concerned that Kiwia, who finished second to Qewy in the Bendigo Cup in the spring, might be a run short due to his unlucky second at Caulfield last start behind Self Sense.  “He didn’t have the hit-out I wanted to go into a race of this nature,” Weir said. “He didn’t get the tough run I wanted.”  Weir said Kiwia worked well at Ballarat on Saturday with a strong gallop designed to compensate for him not having the run he wanted at Caulfield.  Weir said last-start Flemington winner Gallic Chieftain was in great condition.  “If he can put two in a row together he’ll be hard to beat. It was a tough win at Flemington.”  Weir also said Yogi could be a run short having had just the two runs back from a spell.  Weir said his other starter Master Of Arts was fit and would come right into calculation if the rain came.                 Weir said Now And Zen would contest the Grand Annual Steeplechase today after he lost his rider in the Brierly Steeplechase on Tuesday.  “I would have liked to have seen him finish the Brierly so we’re guessing a bit. He went to beach in the morning and he’s fine.”

Race 1: Hammonds Paint Novice Hurdle [3200 metres] – a race decimated by scratchings, leaving just four starters, including Weir’s Duke Of Boneo [John Allen] [3rd].  My odds were $1.60 & $1.08.   The ‘Duke’ started favourite, placed 2nd and ready to strike for most of the race  –  as the four horses strolled along in Indian file, or as the race caller noted ‘there’s not much happening’. But then, with 50 metres to go, and the ‘Duke’ in front, the Weir horse got the staggers and was over-run to the line, finishing third!!  The winner: Getting Leggie, ridden by Steven Pateman, and trained by young South Australian, Nick Smart.

Race 2: No Fuss Event Hire Handicap  [1200 metres]  –    8 starters, including the Weir horse Kaplumpich [John Allen] [2nd], which went into the race as favourite. My odds were $2.35 & $1.20. A, second Weir horse, No Emotion which would have been a first starter was scratched overnight. In this race, the Weir horse was beaten into 2nd place, and while a protest was lodged against the winner for interference, that was eventually dismissed.   The winner:  Tee Train [Craig Williams – Symon Wilde]

Race 3: Schweppes Handicap [1400 metres]: another small field of 7 runners, including Rising Hope [Dean Yendall] [5th].  No luck in this race for Rising Hope [perhaps ‘diminishing’ hope is a more appropriate name!!]. My odds were $6.00 & $2.65 with the horse coming in 5th..  The winner: La Fleurette [Ms Nicky Nerriman –Symon Wilde, two out of 3 races so far for this trainer].

Race 4: Ludeman Real Estate Handicap [2000 metres]:  We had three Weir horses in this race, a field of 15 starters.  They were: Golden Flag [John Allen] [5th]   Thunder Cloud [Brad Rawiller] [First];    Zelenus  [Dean Yendall] [14th],  with my odds on the race being $8.00 & $2.45; $6.50 & $2.15;  and $26.00 & $6.00.  The favourite was a horse called Hangman who had the race in control – until Weir’s Thunder Cloud came from the clouds and went away in commanding fashion to win Weir’s 9th race of the carnival.   The winner:  Thunder Cloud [Brad Rawiller  – Darren Weir].

Race 5: The Standard Handicap  [1100 metres]:  We had four Weir horses in this race, in a field of 15 starters again.  They were Labuan Star [Brad Rawiller] [3rd];   Painte [John Allen];  He’s A Moral [Dean Yendall]; and Artie Dee Two [Damian Lane]. My odds on each horse were $11.00 & $3.50; $10.00 & $3.20; $17.00 & $5.00; and, $10.00 & $3.20. No favourites in that bunch, although Labuan Star had a few supporters. At the loading of this race, the rain [as predicted] began to hit Warrnambool. Of the Weir horses, it would only be Labuan Star that produced a result, running into third place  The winner [that man again]  –  InnKeeper [Ms Linda Meech –  Symon Wilde]

Race 6:  Evergreen Turf Neville Wilson Series  [1700 metres]:  two Weir horses – Approved Anger [John Allen] and Furrion [Brad Rawiller] [First] – this second horse would start as favourite in the race, which as it began, the weather deteriorated and the rain proper began to affect the afternoon, and the track. My odds – $7.50 & $2.15, and $1.60 & $1.10.  This was Furrion’s 3rd race, for two wins so far, and today would not alter that trend – a convincing win to the favourite, while the horse which won the race over the past two years, Like The Clappers, battled on for a close second.  The winner: Furrion [Brad Rawiller – Darren Weir]  –  the horse described as a very exciting prospect in the months and years ahead  –  ‘a star is born at the ‘Bool’ said the race caller as Furrion crossed the line.

Race 7; [the big one]:  Waterfront By Lyndoch Living Grand Annual Steeplechase  [5,500 metres], a jumps race worth $350,000, with 11 starters. For Weir, he was giving Now and Zen [John Allen] [Fell]  another opportunity [after’s Tuesday’s ‘mistake’], with my starting odds at $6.00 & $2.25. At this point, Weir has found 10 winners since Tuesday, and he would dearly love for this one to surprise the tipsters. A horse, proven in the wet [which was happening to a minor extent at this stage of the afternoon], and a starter in 13 jumps races for 5 wins and 5 2nd placings. Weir had confirmed overnight that Now And Zen would contest the Grand Annual Steeplchase today, after losing his rider in the Brierly Steeplechase on Tuesday. Weir said  ‘I would have liked to have seen him finish the Brierly so we’re guessing a bit. He went to the beach in the morning and he’s fine’.    However, he was up against a strong and proven field of competitors……………It would be a .disappointing outcome for Now And Zen – halfway through the race, fell [not noticed by the race caller], got up and ran on, but later taken away for treatment to an injured leg.  No early news on the luckless John Allen.           Meanwhile, the race itself, after 5,500 metres, saw another thrilling finish to the line between the two horses that finished first and second in Tuesday’s Brierly Steeple –  in fact, a repeat of that finish  –  the winner was the local horse Gold Medals, ridden by Shayne Jackson, trained by Symon Wilde. The defending champion, favourite, and top weight, Zen Em came in second, just by a short head. Amazing finish, and what a day for trainer, Symon Wilde.   Winner:  Gold Medals [with the Steeple double] [Clayton Douglas – Symon Wilde].

Race 8: Mercedes Benz Handicap  [1400 metres]:  Two Weir horses –  Kenjorwood [Brad Rawiller] [4th],   and Refulgent [Dean Yendall], my odds were $20.00 n& $5.50,  and $34.00 & $9.00. although Kenjorwood would actually start the race at a much shorter price. In fact, the horse led for a large part of the race, but tired in the closing stages and was overrun by the favourite, in fact missing out on a place altogether. Not a very successful day [despite two winners] for Weir, or for supporters of his horses, viz., the writer!!!

Race 9: Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup  [2.50 metres] – a final field of 13 starters.  Darren Weir had  four Cup starters, and he noted, prior to the race, with respect to each:………Master Of Arts  Brad Rawiller] [5th]  “I’m really happy with him. If it’s wet he’ll come right into contention but if the track’s not I might even take him out.”   Gallic Chieftan  [Johnj Allen]  [First] “He’s fit and tough and racing in great fashion.”   Kiwia [Damian Lane]) [6th]  “This is the race he’s been set for but my worry is that he didn’t have a hard hit-out last start. He worked well at Ballarat on Saturday.”   Yogi [Craig Williams]  [2nd] “He’s going well but he’s only had two runs in and he might be one run short.”   My odds in order of named horses were  $13.00 & $4.00;  $9.50 & $3.10;  $2.90 & $1.45; and $6.00 & $2.25.  Weir felt that the fittest of his four runners would be Gallic Chieftan, and that prove4d the case, with the horse surviving a late challenge, just, from stablemate, Yogi.  In the final analysis of the Cup, the four Weir horses finished within the top six positions of the 13 runners.

Race 10: Scania Australia Handicap  [1300 metres]:  a field of 16, including two Weir horses  –  Fifty Stars [Brad Rawiller] [First],  and Smart Talk [Harry Coffey] [8th]. A third entry, Atone was scratched overnight.  My odds were $1.95 & $1.20, and $23.00 & $6.00.  This race would end the Warrnambool Racing Carnival with yet another triumph for the Weir complex, with Fifty Stars dominating the finish and going on to a strong win. This win would give Weir four winners on each of the three days of the Warrnambool carnival, a total of 12, not quite up to last year’s year’s total, but still, the second highest total wins in the carnival’s history.

I will again use Michael Manly’s summary [part]  to  conclude the event.  “Darren Weir didn’t match his heights of last year but still dominated the Warrnambool carnival with 12 winners, including a fifth consecutive cup…………….Before the Cup, Weir said Gallic Chieftan was the fittest and toughest of his four runners. That made the difference. Yogi was one run behind in his preparation and it told. Gallic Chieftan was the right horse on the right day. The toughness in a great race told late. Weir described John Allen’s ride on Gallic Chieftan as ‘a great one’. Allen said he’d had a frustrating carnival before the cup win, being successful only on Tradesman on Tuesday. Earlier, .his mount Now And Zen fell in the Grand Annual Steeplechase. And he was dumped from the same horse at the first fence in Tuesday’s Brierly Steeplechase…………………..Weir’s previous Warrnambool Cup winners were Askar [2014], Tall Ship [2015], Master Of Arts [2016] and High Church [2017]. Despite his 12 winners this week, a $1 bet on all of Weir’s 51 runners would have produced a loss, of $9.70.”  The writer can vouch for that!!!

It would be remiss of me not to mention the other trainer of the day [especially the final day]  – and that was Warrnambool boy, Symon Wilde  –  who not only trained the winner of the Grand Annual Steeplechase [with the same horse, Gold Medals,  winning the Brierly Steeple on Tuesday], but picked up 3 other winners on Thursday. Not surprisingly, the Warrnambool crowd erupted as Gold Medals came back to scale after the race, which was won by the smallest of margins over the favourite [as on Tuesday], Zed Em  –  the race caller’s description was as the desperate as the crowd, and while he felt Gold Medals had won, his plea over the speaker system was ‘please don’t tear down the stand if I’m wrong’!!! He wasn’t!!  Speaking afterwards, Wilde said  – “It’s a dream come true, as I’ve now won the main Warrnambool races, the Brierly, the Wangoom, the Cup and now the Grand Annual. I’ve now got the full deck of cards. It’s a race I’ve watched all my life and wanted to win for years. Dad trained and then I joined him. This is so more than a Group 1 to me. He’s not a Group 1 horse, but he’s a horse who has won $1 million”.

Incidentally, Weir’s horse in the Grand National Steeplechase, which fell coming down the ‘hill’ for the first time during the race, was later treated by vets, and found to be lame in the near hind leg. I was so thankful that there was not a more serious outcome for the horse. Over recent years, Victoria which is now one of only two states to retain jumps racing, has received much adverse criticism from anti-jump racing protestors, and in early years there was some genuine concern about the seemingly high number of horse deaths that occurred due to falls, etc,  Thankfully this year, the only major mishaps occurred to the same horse twice – Weir’s Now And Zen.  As a spectator, I love to watch the jumps races, but in all honesty, do so with my ‘heart in my mouth’ willing all horses and jockeys to get around the courses safely, irrespective of where thy finish in a race.

Finally, on that note, from Darren Weir Racing @DKWeirracing  –  “Now And Zen is back at the Ballarat stables for ongoing care. Rest assured he is much loved by his owner and everyone at Darren Weir Racing so he will be well looked after”.

[Bill Kirk, 4th May, 2018]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 30, 2018

Views on two recent sporting controversies in Australia

Over the past few weeks, here in Australia, we have witnessed a couple of ‘actions’ in sporting circles, which have raised some debate, and controversy,  and I’d like to bring the attention of my readers  to two  articles written recently on those subjects  –   the Australian  cricketer’s ball-tampering incident, and an event that generated some comment towards the end of the recent Commonwealth Games.  The article relating to the cricket, comes from an academic viewpoint, while the Games comment arises from an opinion piece in one of our daily newspapers.  I will allow readers to form their own opinion of the two pieces, and submit them purely out of general interest  – I’ve made my views known elsewhere. .

BANNING CRICKET CHEATS: HOW LONG IS LONG ENOUGH?

Banning Steve Smith and David Warner for 12 months is a serious statement from Cricket Australia  [By Professor Jack Anderson, University of Melbourne, and First published on 27 March 2018 in ‘Legal Affairs’, and subsequently published inj the Melbourne Alumni E-News of the 20th April]

The ball tampering antics of the Australian cricket team in their Test series against South Africa has left sports coaches and parents around the country trying to explain as best they can why Steve Smith, the captain of the Australian cricket team, cheated. He resorted, and later admitted, to undermining the integrity of the game and breaches of the sport’s code of conduct.

Cricket Australia quickly sent its high-performance director, Pat Howard, and the head of its sports integrity unit, Iain Roy, to South Africa to investigate.

They found the conspiracy to cheat was limited to just three players- Steve Smith, Vice Captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, with Smith and Warner banned for 12 months each and Bancroft for nine months. Coaching staff were cleared, reducing the potential damage to reputation somewhat.

The sanctions reflect just how seriously the national governing body is taking the incident. It means neither player will be part of the the four match Test series against India next summer, beginning in November/December 2018. This is a very serious statement of intent by Cricket Australia, and has significant commercial ramifications for the players.

While ball tampering isn’t uncommon in the sport, this incident not only breached the integrity of the game, but reflects the fact that the integrity or ethos of the Australian cricket team itself needs thorough examination.

 

WHAT DID THE INVESTIGATION CONSIDER?

There are usually five key questions in sports integrity investigations of this kind – what was the plan or conspiracy to cheat; how was it achieved; why was it proposed; who exactly was involved; and what is the appropriate sanction?

In this instance, the answer to questions one and two appear clear and indeed have been admitted by many of those involved. There was an attempt, using tape of some kind, to grit the ball on one side to reverse swing the bowling.

The third or “why”’ question also appears clear. Faced with losing another Test match in the series, the Australian team’s leadership group, during the lunch break on Saturday, concocted their ball tampering plan.

This was despite 30 cameras surrounding the field of play and heightened media interest in the game, given so-called sledging incidents between the players. It seems the win-at-all-costs mentality of the team and its core leadership led to the decision that any possible risk of getting caught was worth the potential rewards.

It wasn’t just the side of a ball that was being manipulated, it was, potentially, the outcome of the game itself. It wasn’t just the South Africans being cheated, but all of us who watch the game and expect it to be played competitively but fairly.

 

HOW DO THESE SANCTIONS COMPARE?

This means that the answer to the fourth question is crucially important, with only three players found to have known about the incident.

Smith had already received a one match ban from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Bancroft was given demerit points. Both had their match fees deducted.

Under the applicable code of conduct, life bans can attach to the gravest offences, including the ‘catch all’ charge likely to be used here – bringing the sport into disrepute or conduct unbecoming to the game.

But placed against the ICC’s punishments, life bans were never likely. In fact, ball tampering bans historically have not resulted in long bans in cricket. In 1994, the then England Captain Mike Atherton held onto the England captaincy and avoided suspension but was fined $3,700 after he was caught using dirt in his pocket while manipulating the ball during a Test against South Africa at Lord’s

In 2010, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi was bannedfrom two Twenty20 internationals after being found guilty of ball tampering by biting on the seam during an international in Perth.  In 2013, South Africa’s Faf du Plessis was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for rubbing the ball against the zipper of his pants pocket . In 2016, du Plessis was filmed shining the ball with saliva while also having a mint in his mouth. The ICC gave him three demerit points on his record .

When it comes to [the latest incident], Cricket Australia has treated the current misbehaviour in a much more serious manner, as a reflection of the integrity of the team and the game itself.

An added complication for all those involved is that Cricket Australia centrally contracts the players involved – those contracts are up for renewal at the end of April.

 

THE WIDER FALLOUT

There is also more at stake here than any ephemeral notion of the spirit of the game.

Already corporate sponsors, and including those relating to individual players, have expressed concern. Sponsors’ money along with a TV rights deal – the latter with great commercial sensitivity being negotiated at present – underwrite the viability of cricket at all levels.

Domestically, cricket must fight for exposure with the AFL and the rugby codes amongst others. Internationally, the future of Test cricket as a format of the game is being questioned.

Australian sport, recreationally, professionally and commercially holds itself, rightly, to its own high standards of integrity.

The ethos of the current senior men’s team, at least in the last few months, shouldn’t be taken to reflect the ethos of the sport as a whole in Australia. The forceful, sometimes shrill, invective directed against the few (Smith and others) actually shows that the fundamental desire for fair play in sport is still respected by the many.

The bubble that is elite sport means that the moral compass of those who play it is often skewed. It often goes, as does the players’ judgement, into something the Australian players tried but failed to do at the weekend – reverse swing.

 

A GOLDEN MOMENT LOST BUT WHO CAN BLAME HIM?

 

THE Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gave us many great moments — no thanks to the organisers of the closing ceremony.But one missed opportunity for a great moment came in the men’s marathon.

[written by Justin Quill, from the Melbourne Herald Sun.20th April, 2018]

You might think I’m talking about the missed opportunity to showcaee the organisation of medical support for athletes during the marathon..

When Scottish runnr Callum Hawkins collapsed to the bitumen –especially for a scond time – it was an opportunity for medics to be on the scene and rendor assistance immediately, not minutes later after he had been wailing around on the road and in the gutter. That was certainly a missed opportunity.

But I saw another one. Hawkins fell for the second time about 2 km from the finish line. He was leading by a healthy margin. Before his first fall, he looked every bit the winner. After falling the first time, he gor up and kept running.

But after Hawkins fell a second time – almost headbutting the metal barrier on the side of the course as his legs gave way – it was pretty clear he would not make the finish line.

Enter Australian athlete and reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael Shelley, who coincidentally hails from the Gold Coast. Shelley seized his opportunity to take the lead and ultimately the gold medal as he ran past a crumpled Hawkins.  But what he didn’t seize was the opportunity to display a golden moment of Australian sportsmanship.

In a perfect world, Shelley would have stopped to render assistance or even just check on Hawkin’s welfare.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, at that moment the world Shelley would have been in would have been a world of pain. He was no doubt feeling the effect of the heat and having pushed his body close to its limit. He may not have been in as bad a state as Hawkins, but I suspct his brain wasn’t working as it might normally.

He may have known that his legs were on a knife’s edge and even slowing down to chck on Hawkins might have brought on nasimilar fate for him.

Or Shelley could have reasonably assumed that two medical-looking officials standing nxt to a distraught Hawkins would be able to do a better job of caring for Hawkins than he could.

Shelley also didn’t have the benefit of seeing what Hawkins had gone through in the minuts before he ran past. Shelley didn’t see Hawkin’s near headbutting of the railing.

So for all of those reasons, I’m not been overly critical of Shelley.

But it was still a missed opportunity.

And in rcent months, Australia’s sporting image – thanks to our cheating cricketers – has taken a hit.

Think of the oconic image of John Landy in the 1956 Australian national championships going back to help fellow Aussie Ron Clarke who had fallen during thr 1 mile race. In an event that goes so quickly, any breaking of rhythm can signal the end of a runner. It was a remarkable sign of sportsmanship from Landy. Nevermind that he was so good that he went on to mak up nearly 50 metres  and win the race, this would become the epitome of sportsmanship. They’ve built statues to commemorate it. The gesture is far more important than the race in which it occurred.

Shelley’s Commonwealth Gams gold was a grat achievement. Hard fought and well dserved.

But I wonder if he had his tim over again whether he would choose to check on his fallen combatant.

Visualise that image for a moment. Imagine Shelley had stopped and put his hand on Hawkins in a show of solidarity. Or even just slowd down and gestured or spoken with the officials as he ran past to inquire about his competitor’s welfare.

What an image that would be. It could have been the image of the Games.

Like another image I have etched in my mind. The image that is, for me, the best image of the Games.

Australia’s 10,000m runners Eloise Wellings, Madeline Hills and Celia Sullohern finishd unplaced in the gruelling event.

No doubt exhausted and wanting to hydrate and rest, all refused to leave the finish line until the last competitor, LineoChaka from Lesotho – who finished more than five minutes behind the winner –  had crossed the line.

All three congratulated and embraced Chaka. It was a srark picture to what would have taken place if a lonely Chaka had crossed the line with no one there at all. It was a classy act of sportsmanship from the Aussie girls.  Sullohern said  ‘It was lovely to stand there and show what I hope was a bit of Aussie sportsnanship’.

Indeed it was. And it was lovely to watch.

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 21, 2018

The ‘Matildas’ in the Women’s Asia Cup tournament

The 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup has just been completed in Jordan. This was the 19th occasion of the holding of the Women’s Asian Cup, which is competed by the women’s national teams in the Asian Football Federation (AFC), including Australia. . It was held in Jordan from the 6th to the 20th April

The tournament this year, also served as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup  with the top five teams qualifying for the World Cup in France. The defending champions leading up to this tournament were Japan.

The 8 teams which qualified for the 2018 Asian Cup [after some earlier elimination qualification matches were played last year] were divided into two groups for the purposes of the preliminary matches.  The final draw for matches was made in December, 2017.  In Jordan, all games were played in the Jordanian capital,  at either the 17,600-seater Amman International Stadium, or the 13,000 seater King Abdullah II Stadium The allocated Groups were:

Group A: were  China, Jordan, Philippines and Thailand.

Group B were Australia, Japan, Jordan [automatic entry as the hosts], Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Japan,  Australia and China qualified automatically as a result of finishing in the first three places from the 2014 tournament, and Jordan qualified as the host nation.  The other competing countries competed in earlier preliminary group matches over the past 12 months or so.

This was Australia’s 6th appearance in the competition, having won the Cup in 2010, and being runners-up in 2014. China have won the World Cup on 8 occasions. On the basis of their form over the past year or so in various tournaments, the Australian team [known as the ‘Matildas’] were considered in some quarters to have top billing to win the tournament.

An experienced 23-player squad, with 1108 international caps between them, represented Australia, with Coach Alen Stajcic at the helm. The Matildas had a number of top players returning from injury which it was hoped would represent a major boost to the team’s hopes of success.

Matildas squad: Lydia Williams (GK), Caitlin Cooper, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne, Laura Alleway, Chloe Logarzo, Steph Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alex Chidiac, Emily van Egmond, Lisa de Vanna, Casey Dumont (GK, Tameka Butt, Alanna Kennedy, Emily Gielnik, Hayley Raso, Kyah Simon, Mackenzie Arnold (GK), Katrina Gorry, Sam Kerr, Ellie Carpenter, Larissa Crummer, Michelle Heyman.

A little description from one of the web sites promoting the Cup, from the view of Australian supporters, with some information about Amman………………”In April in Amman, sunrise is 6am and sunset is 7pm. Temperatures range from between 21c and 32c with very little rain and low humidity. In 2016 approximately 2.5 million visitors travelled to Amman, which made it the 5th most visited Arab city. The city has a population of 4 million and is among the most popular locations in the Arab world for tourism and business. Jordan is a fascinating mix of modernity and ancient wonders. Visitors will live it up in the cosmopolitan city of Amman, explore the biblical sights at Mt Nebo and Madaba, float in the Dead Sea, explore the Roman town of Jerash and visit the stunning ruins of Petra on an enriching and exciting tour of Jordan. With cultural gems, ancient artefacts and warm hospitality waiting around every corner, Jordan is an enthralling and magnetic land to visit and combine with supporting the Matildas at the Asian Cup.”

But, back to the competition itself, and some of the results, initially, the preliminary matches to decide the finalists for 2018.

Group A:  Philippines defeated Jordan 2-1;  China defeated Thailand 4-0;  China defeated Philippines 4-0;  Thailand defeated Jordan 6-1;  China defeated Jordan 8-1;  Thailand defeated Philippines 3-1;

Subsequent rankings:

  1. China: 3 wins [9 pts]  GF: 15; GA: 1;    +14;
  2. Thailand: 2 wins, 1 loss [6 pts]: GF: 9; GA: 6; +3;
  3. Philippines: 1 win, 2 losses  [3 pts] ; GF: 3; GA: 7;  -4;
  4. Jordan: 0 wins, 3 losses [0 pts]; GF: 3;  GA: 16; -13.

 

Group B:  Japan defeated Vietnam  4-0;  Australia drew with South Korea 0-0; Australia defeated Vietnam 8-0;  South Korea drew with Japan 01-0;  Japan drew with Australia  1-1;  South Korea defeated Vietnam 4-0;

Subsequent rankings:

  1. Australia: 1 win, 2 draws, [5 pts]: GF: 9; GA:1; +8;
  2. Japan: 1 win, 2 draws: [5 pts]: GF: 5; GA: 1;  +4;
  3. South Korea: 1 win, 2 draws [5 pts]: GF: 4; GA: 0;  +4;
  4. Vietnam: 0 wins,  3 losses [0 pts]:  GF: 0; GA: 16;  -16.

 

Play-off for 5th and 6th places [16th April:

South Korea defeated Philippines:  5-0.

Semi-finals [17th April]:

1st Semi- Final:  In front of what seemed to be a virtually empty stadium, Australia drew with Thailand 2-2, and in the penalty shoot-out that followed after extra time, won that 3-1.. Australia were lucky to get away with that one, playing a very enthusiastic Thai team, for whom there were some suggestions by the commentary team  that because Thailand had achieved their aim in this tournament, i.e., to qualify for next year’s World Cup, they would not be too concerned about the outcome of this game. Someone forgot to tell that to Thailand’s players who did everything except win in the end, and towards the closing stages of full time, and for the extra time period, Thailand played with just ten on the pitch following a red card send-off.

From Fox Sports – ‘The Matildas  escaped from a monumental semi-final scrap with Thailand, needing an injury-time equaliser and penalties to edge the minnows and reach the Asian Cup final.  The Australian girls  stood on the brink of elimination at the end of 90 minutes, trailing 2-1 after a shambolic display.  But Alanna Kennedy and goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold rectified shocking defensive efforts with clutch moments to send Australia into a third-straight continental final’.

And later, reporting from ‘The Women’s Game’, we read:  ‘Matilda’s goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold says the playing group is looking to move on from their performance against Thailand leading into the Asian Cup Final against Japan on Saturday (3am AEST).. Arnold and the Matildas found themselves on the back foot in the semi-final as Thailand took it to Australia as the game was settled from the dreaded shootout.  The goalkeeper was the hero for Australia in the end, saving three penalties as the Matildas prevailed 3-1 in the shootout to book a place in the final against the Japanese.  Australia smashed Thailand 5-0 in the Asian Cup send-off game in Perth, but Arnold was adamant the Matildas weren’t complacent in the semi-final.  “We still went into it knowing we needed to win it because it was a semi-final,” Arnold told The Women’s Game.  “We were never going into it with complacency, they were counter-attacking us early on and when they got those first few chances, maybe some panic set in or I don’t really know what to call it, but it wasn’t complacency.

Arnold said the Matildas were now looking ahead to the final, but felt they could learn a lot from their performance.

“Last night we looked back on it briefly, not much as we normally would and we’ve decided to put that game behind us and scrap that one,” she said.  “We all spoke about it last night and now we all have really high hopes. I’m very excited for the final coming up and we’ll try play our game this time and try not to let other tactics creep in.” ‘

2nd Semi-Final:   Japan defeated China 3-1;  a convincing win to the team from Japan, and putting them into the final, at that stage, against Australia. Japan had won the tournament in 2014 [against Australia] for the first time in 14 attempts, and were hoping to make it two consecutive Asian Cups.

The Final matches. [20th April].

 Play-off for 3rd and 4th place [20th April]: China versus Thailand  played at 11.45 pm, AEST on Friday night [7 hours ahead of Jordan]  – played in an empty stadium apart from large groups of very enthusiastic supporters for both teams, the China team prove too dominant for their gutsy opponents, eventually winning the match 3-1

Asian Cup Final: [20th April]:   Japan versus Australia.  This game was played at 3am Saturday morning, Eastern Standard time in Australia, but that time would not deter the true lovers of women’s football.

One of Australia’s long-term members of the team was 33 year old Lisa de Vanna, who if selected, would be playing in her 3rd consecutive Asian Cup Final. She and goal keeper Lydia Williams are the only players remaining from the final, played in Adelaide, 12 years ago, which Australia lost in a shootout against China on that occasion. However de Vanna would get to hold the Asian Cup aloft four years later, with the team’s only Cup victory in 2010. She has represented Australia internationally for 14 years, and achieved 140 caps with the Matildas in that time.

As for the 2018 Final, there were eight Matildas playing who had featured in that 2014 loss, and they were seeking redemption on this occasion, on the next chapter in what was becoming an epic rivalry.

As a television viewer, I was disappointed to once again see a relatively empty stadium at Amman, just appeared to be small clusters here and there of Australian or Japanese supporters with little apparent local interest. I had to wonder why Jordan in fact had become the venue  [the first time the event had been held in the Middle East]– their football team, only in the tournament as the host nation, were no match for any of the opposition – presumably the crowds came to see their team play, but otherwise there was no apparent interest in the tournament. I would guess that the persuasion of money and the rewards of extra tourism played a large part in the venue selection. I could only imagine that for the players involved, to perform on an international stage with few spectators would not have been particularly inspiring.  In a stadium, not built for the kind of crowds Australian cities have for example, it was quite disappointing to see those empty stands.

Anyway, be that as it may, the match got underway at 8pm local time on a very cool night in Amman, and an extremely windy one. I noted that the Australian coach, who in the semi-final had been patrolling the boundaries in a pure white shirt, tonight had a pullover on, like most of the other team support, spectators, etc, to ward off the cold breeze.

After the traditional playing of the respective national anthems, the 1st half got underway, with a lot of early attacking moves [without any result, other than putting the Japanese defence under pressure] came from Australia, and in fact, for a large part of that half [with a brief period midway through] the Matildas were consistently dominant around the ground. At around 14 minutes into the match, Australia was awarded a penalty [result of a Japan handball], and one should have anticipated a goal would follow. Not so  – the Japan keeper saved that not very strong attempt, and an opportunity was missed.

The Australian girls did not allow that to depress their play however, as thy continued to keep attacking, while at the same time resisting an increase in the number of Japan offensive moves towards their goal. I noticed that the Australian coach seemed to be becoming frustrated with some of the referee decisions [interestingly, the referee and most of her assistants were from North or South Korea].

At halftime, the scores were 0-0, with Australia in particular having missed a number of opportunities.  At the start of the 2nd half,  no substitutes had been made by either team, with only one yellow card having been issued, for the earlier handball. At 15 minutes, the Australian veteran Lisa de Vanna was subbed off, and replaced by Kyah Simon. WE continued to see positive play by the Australians, but for no scoring result – much of that I put down to lack of strength in the attempted goal kicks, while considerable credit must go to the Japan goal-keeper who simply didn’t allow anything to go past her.

With 20 minutes to go, Japan’s star goal scorer came into play, while both teams continued with attacking moves that were repulsed by the opposition, or miskicked.  With seven minutes of regular time to play, Japan scored that elusive goal, and all of a sudden, the hopes of an Australian victory began to fast diminish, as Japan took a rare opportunity when it arose.

The match ended after a couple of minutes of injury time –    Japan: 1;  Australia: 0  –  Japan were consecutive  Women’s Asian Cup champions

As my Face book comment would note after the game:

‘Women’s Asian Cup Final, 2014 repeated, Japan defeats Australia 1-0, scored in 83rd minute in Jordan. Australia dominated the match but could not convert their chances. Japan had a few, took just one, while Australia missed a penalty shot early in the match, and many shots for goal lacked strength. Japanese keeper made no errors, she alone deserved the outcome.’

Meanwhile my apologies to the members of the successful Japan team, at the time of writing, I’ve been unable to find a list of the player names, but in the context of the match, your win was reward for persistence and strong defence, and for taking the opportunity when it arose.

 

I shall return on another occasion!!

 

 

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 19, 2018

The 2018 Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast, Australia 2018

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast, Australia April 2018  [Part 1:  4-5 April]

 

On Wednesday night, the 4th April, 2018. Australia’s ‘Gold Coast’ welcomed thousands of fans, athletes and officials to the XX1 Commonwealth Games, setting the tone for 11 amazing days of world-class sporting competition  –  a ‘showcase of culture, colour, unity and diversity, with tonight’s Opening Ceremony planned to epitomise the spirit of the Gold Coast and Queensland’ [official website].

What follows will be the ‘Coachbuilder’s’ summary of the competition, and as with past presentations, submitting an emphasis on Australian performers [as a proud supporter of all Australian participation in international sport] but at the same time recognising outstanding performances by other athletes and nations. I had the privilege of being a full-time Volunteer at the Sydney Olympic Games [in 2000], and a daily spectator at a range of competitions at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games [2006].  This time, I’m a spectator in front of the television, having decided that attendance at the Gold Coast this year was a little beyond my present physical and energy capacities [and current finances]!!

From the official preview guide, we read the following summary, and individual comments.

  • The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states who strive to pursue shared goals such as development, democracy and peace. It spans all six continents, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. It’s made up of a multitude of faiths, races, languages, cultures and traditions…………Hundreds of languages and regional dialects are spoken around the Commonwealth. However, there’s one language that Commonwealth members all share: the language f sport.
  • While 54 sovereign states are members of the Commonwealth, there are 70 nations and territories competing at the Commonwealth Games.
  • The Commonwealth Sport Movement is underpinned by three key values: Humanity; Equality; and, Destiny.
  • From the traditional custodians of Australia, and the oldest living culture of the world, having lived on this country for over 50,000, all are welcomed, specifically by the Yugambeh Language Group, who are connected to the Gold Coast region and beyond.
  • In 1891, an Adelaide-born man named John Astley Cooper penned a letter to the editor of Britain’s ‘The Times Newspaper’. In it, he suggested that, every four years, a sporting festival might be held ‘as a means of increasing goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire’. While there was plenty of enthusiasm for the idea, it would not be until 1930 that it came to any reality.
  • In 1930, the first British Empire Games took place in Hamilton [Ontario, Canada], where 11 countries sent 400 athletes to compete in 59 events.
  • The Empire Games would eventually become the Commonwealth Games, but were also known unofficially by another name – ‘The Friendly Games’.
  • The Games have now being held in almost every Commonwealth region. In Kuala Lumpur, in 1988, the first time they were held in Asia, we also saw the first time that team sports had been included.
  • Of the 21 holdings of the competition [including 2018], Australian cities have hosted the Games on 5 occasions – Sydney [1938], Perth [1962],  Brisbane [1982], Melbourne [2006], and the Gold Coast [2018].
  • In 2018, the Games bring together 6,000 athletes and officials from 70 nations & territories, competing in 18 sports.
  • The sports to be covered are Athletics; Badminton; Basketball; Beach Volleyball; Boxing; Cycling [Mountain Bike, Road, Track]; Diving; Gymnastics [Artistic, and Rhythmic]; Hockey; Lawn Bowls; Netball; Powerlifting; Rugby Sevens; Shooting; Squash; Swimming; Table Tennis; Triathlon; Weightlifting; and, Wrestling.
  • Not all events will be held on the Gold Coast, for example, the early rounds of the basketball competitions will be held at Cairns and Townsville to the far north of Brisbane, while other sports will feature in regions to the near north, south or west of the Gold Coast area.
  • A brief geography lesson and mind searcher – the 70 nations and/or territories participating are –  Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, England, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Gibraltar. Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, India, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Ireland,  Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, St. Helena, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Samoa, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Wales, Zambia,

 

Before we consider 2018, I would just like to briefly mention my personal highlight and memory from all Commonwealth Games, that I have witnessed or enjoyed, through one medium or another  –  in Athletes,  at the 1990 Games in Auckland, New Zealand, the Men’s 5,000 metres event, which saw Kenya’s John Ngugi leading into the last lap with victory in his grasp, until a brilliant finish by Australia’s Andrew Lloyd  –  who is probably best known, and remembered, for that effort in coming from behind Ngugi in the last lap to take the gold medal  Every now and then, I retrieve the tape of that race, maybe for some kind of personal inspiration, it certainly can’t help but inspire!! As reported in a Wikipedia article  –  ‘Lloyd, whose performances in big events had come under question, won a dramatic 5000 metres final at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium in 1990. Running third coming into the final bend, Lloyd passed Welshman Ian Hamer and set out after the leader, the reigning Olympic Games 5000 metres champion John Ngugi from Kenya. Ngugi was tiring and with about 5 metres to go Lloyd powered past to win in a time of 13:24.86, just 0.08 in front of the Olympic champion’.

 

The Opening Ceremony [Wednesday, 4th April]

 

I was very pleased to learn some time ago, that my favourite Aussie singer, Katie Noonan, is the musical director for the Opening and Closing ceremonies.

As Katie wrote today from her web page  –   “Super thrilled to let you all know that tonight the fruits of my musical labours of the last year will be broadcast to a worldwide audience of approximately 1.5 billion people  – OMG, no pressure  L. As a fiercely proud Queenslander and with a deep connection to this part of the world [my first ever gig with ‘George’ was on the Gold Coast] I am deeply honoured to present the soundtrack to our Opening Ceremony story. A story that celebrates our connections and our similarities rather than our difference – one mob,  one people. It has been particularly rewarding to work alongside the Yugembah community and to observe and learn from their spirituality and connection to country……………..Katie Noonan.

 

I watched all of the opening ceremony – there was a lot of emphasise on the Indigenous community, their culture and history, and this was spread throughout the event, and in the main, was quite outstanding.  I enjoyed seeing people like former Aussie swimming hero, Susie O’Neill as one of the baton carriers later in the evening, while the singing of Katie Noonan led me to make a comment on Face book –  and the response from a friend I’d not expected to know anything about her  –  “What a unique singing talent that Katie is?   Just about impossible to copy!”  Yes, indeed!

 

I use an on-line summary of the ceremony to set the picture.

“PRINCE Charles and Camilla were blessed Aboriginal-style in an ancient smoking ceremony in the royal box as indigenous culture took centre stage at last night’s opening spectacular.

Local Yugambeh Aboriginal artist Luther Cora and his family performed the ceremony in the middle of the stadium before the smoking bundle of plants was taken to the box to ‘cleanse’ the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall.

Striking indigenous themes dominated the ceremony which began with big screen images of 11-year-old Aboriginal girl Isabella Graham sitting in the crowd holding a mobile phone.

Isabella, the niece of Coast Games medal designer Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, raised the phone displaying the message: ‘Welcome to the oldest living culture on earth’

It signalling a countdown to a dramatic burst of blue pyrotechnics representing planet earth’s creation.

World-renowned didgeridoo player William Barton also starred, with images of him blowing his instrument atop Surfers Paradise super-tower Q1 before appearing in the stadium as part of the ‘Four Winds’ didgeridoo orchestra.

Mau Power, the first hip-hop artist to emerge out of the Torres Strait, performed his upbeat rap remake of the Christine Anu hit before Anu herself joined him in the middle of the stadium.

Daubed in ghostly paint and feathers and carrying smoking staffs, members of the acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre performed a totem ceremony which finished with a flyover by a giant wedge tail eagle created as part of a dazzling light show.

The athletes paraded around the stadium on an 8m wide ribbon of indigenous artwork created by renowned Torres Strait artist Brian Robinson.  A giant effigy of famed white whale Migaloo, lit up with images of Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef painted by Cockatoo-Collins, floated across the stadium in a dramatic finale.”

I had to note that report failed to mention the wonderful Katie Noonan who joined the Gold Coast Choir to sing You’re Welcome Here — a mash-up of snapshots of Australian songs including I Still Call Australia Home and We Are Australian.  – and with other performers, ranging from Christine Anu to Delta Goodrem and Ricki-Lee, we saw plenty of throwback musical performers.

 

Day One of competition, 5th April – the events are underway

 

In looking at each day’s competition, I’m going to examine them in alphabetical order, rather than the actual order of play.

 

The day would start with some disappointing  news from the Gold Coast – following her appearance in the Opening Ceremony last night  –  Sally Pearson’s media announcement, as a consequence of practical and medical advice  –  ‘Sally Pearson has been forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, unable to overcome her Achilles injury.  Pearson, the captain of the Australian athletics team and face of her home Commonwealth Games, told her teammates at about 9am that she had to withdraw.

Pearson has been troubled by an Achilles injury that has stopped her racing over hurdles. She recently ran a sprint relay in a warm-up event but avoided running over the hurdles. It is understood she is not going to compete in the sprint relay at the Commonwealth Games either as she focuses on overcoming the injury.  Pearson had won gold in the 100 hurdles at the past two Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Glasgow’. Sally also won the event at last year’s World Athletic Championships.

 

Meanwhile, today’s events included Artistic Gymnastics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Cycling [Track], Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon and Weightlifting.

 

Artistic Gymnastics: Artistic Gymnastics includes 14 medal events in men’s and women’s team, individual all-round, and apparatus finals. Men compete in floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Women’s apparatus are vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The competition begins with qualification rounds, and athletes with the highest scores progress to the finals. Team events have 3 to 5 athletes in national teams competing for the highest combined scores.

In the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Team Final and Individual qualification events.

The Men’s Team Final result saw GOLD : England; Silver: Canada; and Bronze: Scotland. Australia finished in 5th position [Luke Wadsworth, Michael Mercieca, Mitchell Morgans, Christopher Remkes, and Michael Tone]. Michael Tone of Australia was ranked 11th at the end of the individual qualification round.

 

Badminton is considered the world’s fastest racquet sport. In badminton the best of three games wins. In individual games, the first team/player to score 21 points wins, if the score is tied at 20 all, two consecutive points are required to win the game, and if still equal at 29-29, the first side to score the 30th point wins. Today, Group matches in the Mixed Team’s events were held –  Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Mixed Doubles games, Australia up against South Africa in  Group C . Today’s Australian group results:-  Mixed Team event: Group C: Australia defeated South Africa.

 

Basketball:  this sport returns to the Commonwealth Games, with both the Men’s and Women’s competition commencing today in the Events cities of Cairns and Townsville.   – Australia not featured today.

Men’s Pool B results: Scotland defeated England:78-65; Cameroon defeated India 96-87.

Women’s Pool B results: Jamaica defeated India 66-57; New Zealand defeated Malaysia 86.-44

 

Boxing, and the Round of 32 events got under way. Boxing is a knockout competition, with bouts of 3 rounds of 3 minutes each in both men’s and women’s events.  Today  –   In the Men’s 69 Kg category, Australia’s Terry Nickolas defeated Carl Hield of The Bahamas 5-0.  In the Men’s 60 kg category, Harry Garside defeated Abdul Omar of Ghana 5-0.

 

Netball:  the competition is based on two pools of six teams, Each team plays five preliminary matches against the other teams within their pool. The top two teams from each pool qualify for semi-finals, and then the finals. The remaining pool teams play off in 5th to 12th place classification matches. – Australia is in Pool A.

Results today saw Jamaica defeat Fiji 88-30 [Pool A] and England defeat Scotland 74-28 [Pool B]. Australia defeated Northern Ireland 94-26 [Pool A].  New Zealand defeated Uganda 64-51 [Pool B]

 

Hockey – With a Men’s and Women’s competition, each features 10 teams, with 18 athletes per team. In the first phase,  10 teams are split into pools of 5 in a round-robin format. At the end of the pool stage, the top two teams from each pool proceed to the semi-finals and then the medal finals. The remaining teams play classification matches.  If scores are tied at the end of finals or classification matches, the winner will be determined by a goal shoot-out.

Australia’s Women played today in Pool B,  and defeated Canada 1-0. In the other Pool B match, New Zealand defeated Scotland 6-1. In Women’s Pool A, a shock win by Wales over India 3-2 occurred, while England defeated South Africa 2-0.  Surprisingly, the Australian Men’s Hockey team failed to qualify for the Games.

 

Lawn Bowls  – this program features 10 medal events including two para sport medals.  All events begin with a group stage, where teams play each other before moving to the final stages.

1st Round results today for Australia: Karen Murphy [who read the athlete’s oath at the Opening Ceremony]  defeated Malai Kioa [Tonga] 21-4 in the Women’s Singles. Murphy said afterwards that she ‘had plenty left in the tank and can improve’ further.  The 43 year-old is affectionately called ‘Nanna’ by teammates.

The Men’s Triples 1st Round match saw Australia defeated by Jersey  18-21.  Other matches: Men’s Pairs Round 1: Australia defeated Malta 22-11; Women’s Fours 1st Round: Australia defeated   Papua New Guinea 41-1.  Mixed B2/B3 Para Pairs: Australia defeated South Africa 26-3;  Open B6/B7/B8 Triples: Australia defeated Scotland 18-6.

 

Squash:  all games are played to 11 points, with points awarded whether a player is serving or returning. In Singles, the player must be 2 points ahead to win a game, and a win is the best of 5 games while in Doubles, it is the first team to reach 11, the best of 3 games.

In Men’s Singles Round of 64, Rex Hedrick defeated Eain Yow NG of Malaysia 3-2. Round of 32 matches saw in the Women’s Singles, Christin Nunn defeated Diane Kellas of Malta 3-0, and Tamika Saxby defeated Eilidh Bridgeman [CAY] 3-0, while in the Men’s Singles, Ruan Cuskelly defeated Othniel Bailey [SVG] 3-0;  Rex Hendrick defeated Sunil Seth [GUY] 3-0, Cameron Pilley defeated Ernest Jombla [SLE] 3-0.

 

Swimming heats were held during the morning session, and Australian results were as follows.

Women’s Individual Medley Relay: Heat 1: Meg Bailey [1st], Blair Evans [2nd]. Heat 2: Kaylee McKeown [4rh]

Men’s 400 m Freestyle: Heat 1: Jack McLoughlin [1st]. Heat 2: Mack Horton [1st], David McKeon [3rd]

Women’s 200m Fresstyle: Heat 2: Ariarne Titmus [1st], Leah Neale [2nd]. Heat 3: Emma MvKeon [1st]

Men’s [Para] S14 200m. Heat 1: Fresstyle: Daniel Fox [1st], Liam Schuter [2nd], Mitchell Kilduff [3rd]

Women’s [Para] S7 50 m Butterfly: Heat 1: Riffany Thomas-Kane [3rd]

Men’s 50 m Butterfly. Heat 5: David Morgan [4th]. Heat 6: Grant Irvine [2nd].

Women’s 50m Breastroke:  Heat 2: Leiston Pickett [1st]. Heat 3: Jessica Hansen [2nd], Georgia Bohl [3rd]

Men’s 100m Backstroke.  Heat 1: Benjamin Treffers [2nd].  Hear 3: Mitch Larkham [1st], Bradley Woodward [3rd]

Women’s 100m Butterfly,Heat 1: Brianna Throssell [1st].  Heat 3:  Madeline Groves [1st]. Emma McKeon [2nd].

Men’s 200m Backstroke.  Heat 1: Matt Wilson [1st]. Zac Stubblety-Cook [5th].  Heat 2: George Harley [5th]

 

Swimming Semi-finals during the Evening session saw the following Australian results.

Men’s 50m  Butterfly: S/Final 1: Grant Irvine [1st] in 23.79.  S/Final 2: David Morgan [4th] 24.17 . Both men qualified for the Final.  Fastest S/Final time: 23.53 [RSA].

Women’s 50m Breaststroke:  S/Final 1: Georgia Bohl [1st] 30.92;  Jssica Hansen [2nd] 30.92; Leiston Pickett [3rd] 31.02. All three qualified for the Final.  Fastest S/Final time: 30.53 [Jamaica].

Men’s 100m Backstroke: S/Final 2: Mitch Larkin [1st] 53.15;  Bradley Woodward [2nd] 54.22;  Benjamin Treffrs [4th] 54.62. All qualified for the Final. Fastest S/Final time: Larkin.

Women’s 100m Butterfly:  S/Final 1: Emma McKeon [1st] 57.94;  Brianna Throssell [3rd] 58.38;  SD/Final 2: Madeline Groves [1st] 57.22 [GR]; All qualified for the Final. Fastest time: Groves.

 

Swimming Finals during the evening session resulted as follows

Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final. [WR: 4.26.36]  [Australia’s first swimming medal]:  Gold: Aimee Willmott [England] 4.34.90; Silver: Hannah Miley [Scotland] 4.35.16. Bronze: Blair Evans [Australia] 4.38.23. Meg Bailey [Australia] finished 7th: 4.41.46.  Hannah Miley had won this event in the two previous Commonwealth Games.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Final [WR: 3.40.07]. Two medals to Australia.  GOLD: Mack Horton [Australia] 3.43.76;  Silver:  Jack McLoughlin [Australia] 3.45.21;  Bronze: James Guy [England] 3.45.32. Australia’s David McKeon finished 6th in 3.49.60.Mack Horton is the current Olympic champion.

Women’s 200m Freestyle Final [WR: 1.52.98]. Two medals to Australia.  GOLD: Taylor Ruck [Canada] 1.54.81 [GR]; Silvr: Ariarne Titmus [Australia]  1.54.85; Bronze: Emma McKeon [Australia] 1.56.26. Australia’s Leah Neale finished 6th in 1.58.76.

Men’s S14 [Para] 200m Freestyle Final [WR: 1.56.18]:  Two medals to Australia.  GOLD: Thomas Hamer [England] 1.55.88 [a World Record]; Silver: Liam Schluter [Australia] 1.56.23; Bronze: Daniel Fox [Australia] 1.58.26. Australia’s Mitchell Kilduff finished 4th in 1.59.55.

Women’s S7 [Para] 50m Butterfly Final [WE: 33.81]:  GOLD: Eleanor Robinson [England] 35.72; Silver: Sarah Mehain [Canada] 37.69; Bronze: Tess Routliffe [Canada] 37.85. Australia’s Tiffany Thomas Kane finished 4th in 38.68.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final [WR: 2.06.67]. One Australian medal.  GOLD:  James Wilby [England] 2.08.05; Ross Murdoch [Scotland] 2.08.32; Bronze: Matt Wilson [Australia] 2.08.64.  Australia’s George Harley finished 5th in 2.10.04.

Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay [WR: 3.30.65 held by Australia, the reigning World & Olympic champions, from the Rio Olympics].  GOLD: Australia [new World Record time of 3.30.05  –  Shayna Jack; Bronte Campbell; Emma McKeon; & Kate Campbell];  Silver: Canada; Bronze: England.

 

Table TennisSingles matches are the best of seven games. Team and the Para table tennis matches are best of five games. A game is won by the first player or team to reach 11 points, unless both sides have scored 10-10, in which case a two point lead is required to claim a game.

Australian results today were:  Women’s Team Group 3: Australia defeated Mauritius; Australia defeated Canada. . Men’s Team Group 5: Australia defeated Kiribati; Australia defeated Scotland;

 

Track Cycling Finals:  track cycling events were held at the appropriately named Anna Meares Velodrome. Today’s events included races for the visually impaired, where the B & VI competitor is piloted on a tandem bike by a sighted partner. The various medal outcomes, in six events, were as follows.

Women’s Blind & Vision Impaired Sprint Final: with only two competitors, just a Gold Medal was awarded under the rules. Gold went to Sophie Thornhill [piloted by Helen Scott] of England, defeating Australia’s Jessica Gallager [piloted by Madison Janssen]

Men’s B & VI 1000m TT Final:  GOLD:  Neil Fache [Scotland]; Silver: Jams Ball [Wales];  Bronze:  Brad Henderson [Australia] piloted by Tom Clarke

Women’s 4000m Team Pursuit Finals:  GOLD: Australia [Ashleigh Ankudinoff. Georgia Baker, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson, Alexandra Manly] ; Silver: New Zealand; Bronze:  Canada

Men’s 4000m Team Pursuit Finals:  GOLD: AUSTRALIA [World Record: 3.49.804:  Leigh Howard, Jordan Kerby, Alex Porter, Sam Welsford];  Silver: England;  Bronze: Canada.

Women’s Team Sprint Finals:  GOLD: Australia [Kaarle McCulloch & Stephanie Morton];  Silver: New Zealand;  Bronze: England

Men’s Team Sprint Finals: GOLD: New Zealand;  Silver: New Zealand:  Bronze: Australia [Patrick Constable, Matt Glatezer, Nathan Hart, Jacob Schmid].

 

Triathlon [Women]this was the first medal event of the Games  –  this event combines the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. For both men and women, it consists of a 750 metre swim in open water, a 20 km cycle and a 5km run. Australia had three competitors, with Ashleigh Gentle in particular expected to do well against the reigning World Champion, Flora Duffy. That wasn’t to be  –  Ashleigh finished 5th [58.08], with Gillian Backhouse 9th [58.54] and Charlotte McShane, 11th [59.20]. Medal winners: Gold:  Flora Duffy [Bermuda]: 56.50;  Silver: Jessica Learmonth [England] 57.33; Bronze: Joanna Brown [Canada] 57.38.

 

Triathlon [Men]  followed early in the afternoon – in slightly worse conditions, as rain set in for a while, and certainly as far as the cycling leg was concerned, conditions on the road became a little more treacherous. Again, three Aussie competitors in an event which over the years has been dominated by England Brown brothers. However, on this occasion, they both finished out of a place, after being in strong positions near the end of the cycling leg of the event, which saw Australia win it’s 1st Medal [a Silver] of the Games. Gold went to Henri Schoemann [RSA] 52.31. Silver to Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle, 52.37, and Bronze to Marc Austin [Scotland], 52.44. The other two Australians finished 4th, Matthew Hauser [52.46] and 8th, Luke Willian [53.33].

 

Weightlifting: each lifter has three attempts at the snatch [a single movement where the lifter holds the bar with a wide grip and lifts the weight off the ground in one swift movement], and then three attempts at the clean and jerk [a two-part movement; first with a shoulder-width grip, the lifter pulls the weight up to their shoulders and then balances it. In the second movement, the lifter snaps the bar overhead and stands upright again] with a 10 minute break between the two categories. After all six attempts are complete, the best snatch and best clean and jerk weights are combined to give the lifter a total, which is their overall score.

There were three Medal events today.

Men’s 56 kg Final: Gold: Malaysia. Silver: India. Bronze: Sri Lanka [Australia’s Phillip Liao finished in 12th position].  Women’s 48 kg Final: Gold: India. Silver: MRI. Bronze: Sri Lanka [Australia’s Alyce Stephensen finished in 6th position].

Men’s 62 kg Final. Gold: Muhamad Aznel Bidin [[MAS]; Silver: Morea Baru [PNG]; Bronze: Talha Talib [PAK].  Australia’s Vannara Be finished in 10th position.

 

I guess the two specific highlights of Day One of competition had to be the two World Records, viz, the Cycling Men’s World Record in the 4,000 metres Team Pursuit event,  and the four girls who represented Australia in the Swimming 4 x 100 metres Relay Final, when they broke their own World Record set at the Rio Olympics, with each swimmer creating sensational times, with the crowd at the Aquatic pool certainly helping to bring them home.   I personally find the non-stop hero worship of our swimmers by commentators, and the media generally,  and the constant replays and interviews, quite over the top and annoying [with many other sports and their competitors ignored for the bulk of the coverage]  – however, it was difficult not to be affected by the euphoria associated with that particular swim.

 

On the other side of the slate, the withdrawal of 31 year-old Sally Pearson from the Hurdles event of the athletic competition was a severe disappointment to herself obviously, and athletic fans in general Her brilliant ‘come-back’ win from injury, at last year’s World Athletic Championships was nothing short of inspiring. She had arrived at the Gold Coast optimistic that her troublesome Achilles problem would come good, but such was not to be. She waited until Day one of competition to make the announcement, although being aware two days earlier that she could not run. The delay was twofold –  she wanted to give it more thought in the cold light of day, and secondly, did not want it to distract from her participation in the Opening Ceremony, where she was involved in the baton relay.

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast , [Part 2:  6-7 April]

Day Two of Competition, Friday, 6th April.

 

Today’s events were Artistic Gymnastics, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Cycling Track, Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, and Weightlifting..

A day of many Gold and other medals awarded to Australian competitors, as usual mainly in swimming and track cycling.  But my highlight had to be the Gold Medal won by one of our Women weightlifters

Now this series of articles, is as intended to be a reflection principally of Australian performances, though the writer dos not wish to ignore other competitors. Unfortunately, our media is not always so obvious in such sentiments.  For example, the following paragraph took front page of a Melbourne paper on Saturday morning –  ‘Australia  dominated the pool in a glittering night at the Commonwealth Games, claiming a clean sweep in the women’s 100m butterfly and winning the men’s 4 x 100m relay. The Aussies secured nine gold medals in weightlifting, cycling and swimming, with Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton taking gold and silver in the 200m freestyle……………….I will try and avoid the extreme patriotism with a more even-handed approach!!

 

Artistic Gymnastics

Today saw the Women’s Team Finals and Individual qualification event.

The Team Gold went to Canada; the Silver to England, and the Bronze to the Australian girls  –  Georgia-Rose Brown, Alexandra Eade, Georgia Godwin, Rianna Mizzen, & Emily Whitehad].  Georgia-Rose Brown qualified 5th overall in the individual rankings.

 

Badminton

Qualifying rounds continued today,  and Australian competitors featured in the Mixed Team event [Group C], with ‘mixed’ results –    Mixed Team, Group C – Australia defeated Uganda 4-1;   England defeated Australia 5-0;

 

Basketball

Both the Australian Men and Women’s teams commenced their competition today with satisfactory results.

Men’s Pool A matches –  Australia [the ‘Boomers’] defeated Canada 95-55;  New Zealand defeated Nigeria  110-65, a strong win by the Boomers, described as more playing with the opposition than against it, but there is a long way to go!

Women’s Pool A matches:  Canada defeated England 80-54; Australia [the ‘Opals’] defeated Mozambique 113-53. Liz Cambage dominated for the Opals with 24 points

 

Beach Volleyball

A very popular team sport, and rather appropriate to be undertaken at the Gold Coast  –  first time held at the Commonwealth Games. Each team is made up of two players, with no substitutions allowed. There are 12 Men’s and Women’s teams divided into 3 pools of 4 teams each. A match is played as the best of 3 sets, with the first two played to 21 points, while the third if required, is played to 15 points. Each set must be won by 2 points.

Australian results for the first day of competition were –

Men’s Preliminaries: Pool A: Australia [McHugh/Schumann]  defeated Fiji  2-0 [21-9, 21-9]

Women’s Preliminaries: Pool A:  Australia [Artacho del Solar/Clancy] defeated Cyprus 2-0 [21-14; 21-9]

 

Boxing

Australia had just the one competitor today  –  in the Men’s 75 kg Round of 32: Campbell Somerville defeated Joshua Redhead [Grenada]

 

Cycling Track

It was another big day and night at the Anna Meares Velodrome today. There were a couple of highlights I’d like to mention. The win by Stephanie Morton [in winning Australia’s 100th Games cycling Gold Medal] in the individual sprint event, having won nit at Glasgow 4 years ago. Your comment afterwards –  “That’s testament to the strong cycling program we’ve had in Australia for a long time..” She and team mate, Kaarle McCulloch won the Team Sprint yesterday.  In the exciting Men’s Keiren event, Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer turned it on with a great ride, following his Bronze medal yesterday in the Team Sprint.  I liked his attitude and comment afterwards  –  “We as athletes aren’t doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it for the nation’.

Friday’s medal results were as follows.

Women’s Sprint: Semi-finals [best of 3 sprint races]: Stephanie Morton [Australia] defeated Kaarle McCulloch [Australia]  2-0; and Natasha Hansen [New Zealand] defeated Lauriane Genest [Canada] 2-0.

Gold Medal:  Stephanie Morton [Australia] defeated Nastasha Hansen [New Zealand] 2-0. The Bronze went to Australia’s Kaarle McCulloch in defeating the Canadian 2-0:

Women’s 3000 metres Individual Pursuit Final     For the Gold/Silver:  Katie Archibald [Scotland] defeated Rebecca Wiasak [Australia].   For the Bronze: Annette Edmondson [Australia] defeated Ashlee Ankudinoff [Australia].

Men’s 4000 metres Individual Pursuit Final      For the Gold/Silver:  Charlie Tanfield [England] defeated John Archibald [Scotland].  For the Bronze medal, Dylan Kennett [New Zealand] defeated Jordan Kerby [Australia].

Men’s Keirin Final.   Gold to Matt Glaetzer [Australia];  Silver to Lewis Oliva [Wales], and Bronze to Edward Dawkins [New Zealand]. Also competed in this event for Australia – Patrick Constable[finished 8th], Jacob Schmid [finished 9th].

 

Hockey

Men’s Pool results: England defeated Malaysia 7-0; New Zealand defeated Canada 6-2;

Women’s Pool results: India defeated Malaysia 4-1; New Zealand defeated Ghana 2-0, England defeatd Wales 5-1, and Canada/Scotland 0-0 draw.

 

Lawn Bowls

This sport can be quite entertaining to watch, as are a number of the other Games competitions referred to in these reports –  but the television [and often general; media coverage] gives very little attention to them, all the broad public seems to want as far the TV people are concerned is swimming, swimming and more swimming. Of course, the so-called Apps supposedly cover everything, but who wants to try and find a variety of things on tiny screens, etc, not this viewer for one!!

Anyway, enough of that  – the competition rounds of lawn bowls continued today, a very big program throughout the day, and the Australian outcomes were s follows.  Men’s Triples Round 3: Australia defeated Botswana 33-4;  Women’s Singles, Round 3: Karen Murphy [Australia] defeated Gertrude Ziame [Zambia] 21-3;  Mn’s Triples Round 4: Australia defeated Fiji 28-3;  Women’s Singles Round 4: Karen Murphy defeated Colleen Pikth [South Africa] 21-16;  Mixed B2/B3 [Para] Pairs, Round 2: England defeated Australia 17-16;  Women’s Fours, Round 3: Australia defeated Cook Islands 15-9;  Men’s Pairs, Round 4: Australia defeated Brunei Darussalam 30-7;  Open B6.B7/B8 [Para] Triples Round 2: Australia defeated South Africa 13-10;  Women’s Fours, Round 4: Australia defeated Namibia 23-9,  Men’s Pairs, Round 4: Australia defeated Guernsey 18-15.

 

Netball

Pool A results:  Jamaica defeated South Africa 57-46;  Australia defeated Barbados 79-24;

Pool B results:  New Zealand defeated Wales 70-44; England defeated Malawi  74-49

 

Squash

Women’s Singles Round of 16: Donna Urquhart [Australia] defeated Christine Nunn [Australia] 3-2;  Tamika Saxby [Australia] defeated Joshna Chinappa [India]  3-0;

Men’s Singles Round of 16:  Cameron Pilley [Australia] defeated Lewis Walters [Jamaica] 3-0;  Ryan Cuskelly [Australia] defeated Nafrizwan Adnan [Malaysia] on walkover;  Alan Clyne [Scotland] defeated Rex Hedrick [Australia] 3-0.

 

Swimming

Well, the expected headlines in Saturday’s media went along the lines of  ‘Aussie Gold Rush’,  One-Two Punch’ and ‘It’s Raining Gold’ [in fact it was literally ‘raining’ during the swimming finals tonight, which no doubt worried the spectators and officials more than it did the actual swimmers.

There were a number of swimming events held throughout the day, including heats, semi-finals etc in the morning session, and a series of Medal events during the evening [when the Gold Coast area experienced a series of rain storms]. I’ll concentrate on the Gold Medal results below, but including reference to any Aussie swimmers who didn’t get that far, although most of them got into the respective finals. I have been pleased to see the success that Scotland have been having in the pool.

Men’s 50 metre Butterfly Final: [WR 22.43].  GOLD:  Chad Le Clos [South Africa]: 23.37;  Silver: Dylan Carter [Trinidad & Tobago] 23.67; Bronze: Ryan Coetzee [South Africa] 23.73.  Australia’s finished 4th in 23.76, and David Morgan 8th in 24.01

Women’s 50 metre Breaststroke Final: [WR: 29.40]:  GOLD:  Sarah Vasey [England] 30.60;  Silver: Alia Atkinson [Jamaica] 30.76. Bronze:  Leiston Pickett [Australia]  30.78.  Australia’s Jessica Hansen finished 5th in 30.83, and Georgia Bohl, 6th in 30.88.

Men’s 200 metres Freestyle Final: [WR: 1.42.00]. GOLD: Kyle Chalmers [Australia] 1.45.56;  Silver: Mack Horton [Australia] 1.45.89;  Bronze: Duncan Scott [Scotland] 1.46.30.  Australia’s Alexander Graham finished in 6th position in 1.47.01

Women’s S9 [Para] 100 metres Backstroke Final: [WR 1.07.66]:  GOLD: Alice Tai [England]  1.08.77; Silver: Ellie Cole [Australia] 1.11.51;  Bronze: Ashleigh McConnell [Australia] 1.15.93.  Australia’s Madeleine Scott finished in 4th position in 1.16.12.

Men’s S9 [Para] 100 metres Freestyle Final [WR 54.18].  GOLD: Timothy Disken [Australia] 56.07;  Silver: Lewis White [England] 56.77;  Bronze: Brendan Hall [Australia] 57.90. Australia’s Timothy Hodge finished 4th in 58.11.

Men’s 400 metres Individual Medley Final. [WR 4.03.84]:  GOLD:  Clyde Lewis [Australia] 4.13.12;  Silver: Mark Szaranek [Scotland] 4.13.72;  Bronze: Lewis Clareburt [New Zealand] 4.14.42.  Australia’s Travis Mahoney finished 8th in 4.21.50.

Men’s 100 metres Backstroke Final.  [WR 51.85].  GOLD:  Mitch Larkin [Australia] 53.18;  Silver:  Bradley Woodward [Australia] 53.95;  Bronze: Markus Thormeyer [Canada]  54.14.  Australia’s BenjaminTreffers finished 6th in 54.62.

Women’s 100 metre Butterfly Final.  [WR 55.48].  GOLD:  Emma McKeon [Australia] 56.78 [GR];  Silver: Madeline Groves [Australia] 57.19;  Bronze: Brianna Throssell [Australia] 57.30.

Men’s 4 x 100 metres Fresstyle Relay Final.  [WR 3.08.024 USA].  GOLD: AUSTRALIA [Cameron McEvoy, James Magnussen, Jack Cartwright and Kyle Chalmers] 3.12.96;  Silver:  England; Bronze: Scotland.

 

Table Tennis

Team events today in which Australia featured in two events.

Women’s Team, Quarter-final 2:  Australia defeated Wales 3-1.  Men’s Team Round of 16: Australia defeated Sri Lanka 3-0.

 

Weightlifting

To quote from Saturday’s Herald Sun newspaper:  “Eleven days ago, Tia-Clair Toomey was struggling under the weight of unbearable grief. Last night it weas replaced with bittersweet ecstasy. In the performance of hr life, the Queensland fitness queen used the memory of her teenage cousin killed in an horrific car crash on the Sunshine coast last week to inspire her to weightlifting gold…….’This is for her’ Toomey said after her last-gasp 58kg class gold medal’.

Thankfully, I actually got to see the closing stages of that event  – my thoughts at the time, both before, and in the post-event interviews  –  committed, concentrated, impressive, gutsy,  incredibly humble in victory, and a bit of ‘light and sunshine’ at an otherwise tragic time for the family.  Probably, my ‘golden moment’ of the Games, only two days in!!   Today’s three results were:

Women’s 58 kg Final: [WR 252]. GOLD: Tia-Clair Toomey [Australia] 201; Silver: Tali Darsigny [Canada] 200; Bronze: Jenly Wini  [Solomon Islands]189.

Women’s 53 kg Final: [WR 233].  GOLD: Sanjita Chanu Khumuk [India] 192;  Silver:  Loa Dika Toua [PNG] 182;  Bronze: Rachel Leblanc-Bazinet [Canada] 181. Australia’s Tegan Napper finished 8th, score 166.

Men’s 69 kg Final:  [WR 359].  GOLD: Gareth Evans [Wales] 299;  Silver: Indika C Dissanayake Mudiya [Sri Lanka] 297; Bronze: Deepak Lather [India] 295.  Australia’s Brandon Wakeling finished 7th with a score of 275.

 

The progressive Medal Podium [top 4]

  1. Australia: 14-9-13 [38]
  2. England: 6.3 [18]
  3. Canada: 2-4.5- [11]
  4. Scotland: 4.4  [10]

 

 

Day Three of Competition, Saturday, 7th April.

 

Today’s scheduled events are Artistic Gymnastics, Men’s and Women’s Individual All Round; Badminton; Basketball; BeachVolleyball, Boxing; Cycling Track; Hockey; Lawn Bowls; Netball; Squash; Swimming; Table Tennis; Triathlon, Para Individual, and Team event; Weightlifting

 

The pool and the velodrome again provided the bulk of Australia’s medals on Day Three of the Games, with Australian maintaining the lead on the medal tally at 20 Gold, 17 Silver, 20 Bronze, for a total of 57 medals. This summary looks at how those, and other results progressed through the day.

 

 

Artistic Gymnastics

Men’s Individual All Round Final: GOLD:  Nile Wilson [England] 84.950;  Silver:  James Hall [England] 83.975; Bronze: Marios Georgiou [Cyprus] 83.750.  Australia’s Michael Mercieca finished in 5th place [81.350], and Michael Tone finished 8th [78.450]

Women’s Individual All-Round Final:  GOLD: Elizabeth Black [Canada] 54.200;  Silver: Georgia Godwin [Australia] 53.800;  Bronze:  Alice Kinsella [England] 53.150. Australia’s Georgia-Rose Brown finished 4th with 53.000. A couple of minor errors probably cost the Australian girl a Gold medal.

Georgia Godwin was brought tears with relief and happiness when she earned the silver medal in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) All-Around Final. Godwin came out firing on Vault and Uneven Bars – the two apparatus she nailed in the qualifications – but it was when she got to the Balance Beam where her nerves would really be tested.

 

Badminton

Mixed Team Quarter Final results.

India defeated Mauritius 3-0;  Singapore defeated Australia [Matthew Chau & Setyana Mapasa] 3-0;  Malaysia defeated Scotland 3-0; and, England defeated Canada 3-0.

 

Basketball

Today’s preliminary round results fell as follows.

Men: Pool A:  Canada defeated Nigeria 82-67;’ Australia defeated New Zealand 79-73 [after the Kiwis lead at the end of the first three quarters, and late in the last quarter].

Men Pool B:  England defeated India 100-54; Scotland defeated Cameroon 63-52.

Women Pool B: New Zealand defeated Jamaica 80-49; Malaysia defeated India 85-72.

 

Beach Volleyball

Only the one Australian team participated today  –  in the  Woman’s Pool A: Australia defeated Grenada 2-0 [21-2, 21-11]

 

Boxing

There were two Aussies in the ring today in the Round of 16.

Terry Nicolas [Australia] defeated Thabiso Selby Dlamini [Swaziland] 5-0;

Kurt Walker [Northern Ireland] defeated Jack Bowen [Australia] 4-1.

Terry Nickolas caused the upset to Swaziland’s Tabiso Selby Diamini, winning his round of sixteen in a unanimous decision by judges. He claimed an almost perfect score, achieving 10 out of 10 for all rounds from all judges, except for the last by just one judge.

 

Cycling Track

A very exciting and noisy afternoon and evening sessions at the Velodrome today, and continued Australia successes, together with great wins from England, Scotland and Wales.

Men’s B & VI [Para]  Sprint Final  [WR 9.711]:time measured over final 200 metres

GOLD: Neil Fachie [Scotland, the existing World Record holder, won 2 0f the best of three[10.531 and 10.189. Silver:  James Ball [Wales]:  Bronze:  Brad Henderson [Australia] piloted by Tom Clarke, 2-0 [10.511 & 10.563]

Women’s B & VI [Para] 1000 metres Time Trial [WR 1.05.079]

GOLD:  Sophie Thornhill [England, current World Record holder] 1.04.623, new WR.  With only three competitors in the race, under the rules, only a Gold Medal was awarded. Which was unfortunate for Australia’s Jessica Gallagher [piloted by Madison Janssen] who finished 2nd in the race, followed by Aileen McGlynn [Scotland]

Women’s 500 Metres Time Trial Final [WR 32.268]

Australia’s favourite for the race was Stephanie Morton, who rode the fastest time when she competed, but still had 9 other competitors to follow her, including Australia’s Kaarle McCulloch.  Nobody exceeded Stephanie’s time – until McCulloch had her ride, and subsequently took the lead –  both girls then had to wait and see if the last three competitors could better the Australian times, so it was rather tense in the Velodrome as those final rides took place.

The outcome:  GOLD: Kaarle MCCulloch [Australia] 33.583;  Silver: Stephanie Morton [Australia] 33.619;  Bronze: Emma Cumming [New Zealand] 34.230

Men’s Sprint Final  [WR: 9.347]  [best of three races].

GOLD: Sam Webster [New Zealand] 2-0 [10.123 and 9.952].  Silver: Jack Carlin [Scotland]; Bronze: Jacob Schmidt [Australia] 2-0 [10.327 and 10.475]

Women’s 25 Kilometre Points Race Final.

Another exciting race on the track where points are scored for various sprint stages of the race, with the final sprint seeing Australia’s Alexandra Manly just failing to get into the medals. Extra points are also allocated if a rider overtakes the rest of the field, which in fact, the Wales rider managed to do, making it very difficult for her to be beaten in the end result.  The eventual outcome saw  –   GOLD: Elinor Barker [Wales] 40 points;  Silver: Katie Archibald [Scotland] 20 points;  Bronze: Neah Evans [Scotland] 17 points.  Australia’s Alexandra Manly finished 4th with 14 points, Amy Cure, 7th on 8 points, and Georgia Baker, 21st, 0 points.

Men’s 15 km Scratch Race Final

GOLD: Sam Welsford [Australia] Silver: Campbell Stewart [New Zealand];  Bronze: Christopher Latham [England].  Australia’s great track and road cyclist finished 10th, while Leigh Howard did not finish the race.

This was a wonderful win by Welsford who came from well back at the beginning of the last lap, behind the leading Englishman who had been front for much of the latter stages of the event – charged down the straight, with Stewart beside, both overtaking the English rider in the final metres. An exciting finish to the night, following close on the winning Women’s swimming relay gold win.

 

Hockey

Men Pool A:  Australia defeated South Africa 4-0; Canada defeated Scotland 2-0;

Men Pool B:  Malaysia defeated Wales 2-0; India drew with Pakistan 2-2;

Women Pool A:  South Africa drew with Malaysia 1-1;

Women Pool B:  Australia defeated Ghana 5-0.

 

Lawn Bowls

Australian results: It was a night of mixed emotions for the Australian Jackaroos in the Lawn Bowls competition after they earned passage to two semifinals, but fell short in the remaining two quarterfinals.  Australia’s golden girl Karen Murphy was sensationally eliminated from the blue-ribbon women’s singles event and the reigning men’s world pairs champions also bowed out in the quarters, after both were upstaged by teams they defeated in the sectional rounds.

Women’s Singles, Round 5:  Karen Murphy [Australia] defeated Katherine Beattir [Northern Ireland] 21-17;  Men’s Triples Round 5:  Australia defeated Brunei Darrasalam 29-4;  Men’s Pairs Round 5: Australia defeated Canada 15-12;  Woman’s Fours, Round 5: Australia defeated Malaysia 14-13;  Mixed B2/B3 Pairs, Round 3 Australia defeated New Zealand 16-11 ;  Open B6/B7/B8 Round 3: England defeated Australia 16-12..

Quarter Final [all] results.

Woman’s Fours Quarter Finals: Australia defeated Malaysia 14-12; Canada defeated Scotland 24-11; Malta defeated India 13-11; South Africa defeated New Zealand 16-8;

Men’s Triples Quarter Finals: Australia defeated New Zealand 25-10; Canada defeated Jersey 17-7; Scotland defeated Wales 15-13; Norfolk Island defeated England 19-18 .

Men’s Pairs Quarter Finals: Malta defeated Australia 15-13; Cook Islands defeated South Africa 15-14; Scotland defeated Malaysia 16-11; Wales defeated New Zealand 20-7.

Women’s Singles Quarter Finals: Colleen Piketh [South Africa] defeated Karen Murphy [Australia] 21-19;  Jo Edwards [New Zealand] defeated Emma Firyana Saroji [Malaysia] 21-9; Kelly McKerihen [Canada] defeated Caroline Brown [Scotland] 21-12; Laura Daniels [Wales] defeated Carmen Anderson [Norfolk Island] 21-13.

 

Netball

Woman’s Pool A: South Africa defeated Northern Ireland 9-35;  Barbados defeated Fiji 65-44.

Woman’s Pool B:  Uganda defeated Malawi 54-52;   Scotland defeated Wales 51-47

 

Squash

As many aspects of this competition move towards the finals games, we3 look at today’s Australian results, in order of play. Leading Australian female squash player Donna Urquhart has been knocked out of contention for a singles medal, following a 3-1 defeat from England’s Sarah-Jane Perry. The three-time Commonwealth Games athlete was the underdog throughout the match against the no. 4 seed, rising up in the second game 5-11, but was Perry’s skills shone through finishing off the third and fourth game 11-2, 11-15. “It was tough but the crowd today was amazing. I really wanted to win for the Australian crowd and I have it everything I could. I just had a really though opponent and she played amazingly,” Urquhart said.

Women’s Singles Quarter-Final: Sarah-Jane Perry [England] defeated Donna Urquhart [Australia] 3-1;  Women’s Singles Classic Plate Quarter-Final: Marika Saxby [Australia] defeated Sivasamgari Subramaniam [Malaysia] on a walkover; Samantha Cornett [Canada] defeated Marika Saxby [Australia] 3-1;

Men’s Singles Quarter-Final: James Willstrop [England] defeated Cameron Pilley [Australia] 3-2;

 

Swimming

The morning session was dominated by a series of heats in various events, while the evening session consisted of 8 Finals, and a number of semi-finals, it is those that we shall look at in this report.

Men’s 200 metre Butterfly Final  [WR 1.51.51];  The South African Chad Le Clos won this event in 2010 and 2014 and was a hot tip to make it three in a row, and become the first non-Australian to win the same Games event three times in a row. Though disappointing for the Aussies, he didn’t let his country down.  GOLD:  Chad Le Clos [South Africa] 1.54.00;  Silver: David Morgan [Australia] 1.56.36;  Bronze:  Duncan Scott [Scotland] 1.56.60.Australia’s Grant Irvine finished 4th in 1.56.91.

Women’s 50 metre Freestyle Final [WR 23.67], this race featuring our Campbell sisters.  A convincing win to one, and a tight finish for the minor placings.  GOLD:  Cate Campbell [Australia] 23.78 [broke her own Games record];  Silver [dead heat] for Bronte Campbell [Australia], and Taylor Ruck [Canada] in the same time of 24.26. No Bronze awarded subsequently. Australia’s Shayna Jack finished 4th in 24.57.

Men’s 100 metre Breaststroke Final [WR 57.13] –  a little unusual outcome, with no Aussies making up the medal results!!  GOLD:  Adam Peaty [England – the current World and Games record holder, broke his own Games record] 58.84;  Silver: James Wilby [England] 59.43;  and Bronze: Cameron Van Der Burgh [South Africa] 59.44.  Australia’s Jake Packard finished 4th in 59.70, and Matt Wilson was 7th in 1.00.48.  Liam Hunter of Australia finished 5th in his semi-final race.

Women’s 100 metres Backstroke Final: [WR 58.10].  Again, the existing World and Games record holder broke her own Games record in winning the event, while Australia’s Emily Seebolm was attempting to win this vent for the third time in a row  – in fact, Emily was leading for a large part of the race, but was out-touched on the line!!  GOLD:  Kylie Masse [Canada] 58.63; Silver: Emily Seebolm [Australia] 58.66; and Bronze: Taylor Ruck [Canada] 58.97.  Australia’s Kaylee McKeown finished 4th in 1.00.08, and Hayley Baker was equal 6th in 1.00.74.

Women’s 200 metre Breaststroke Final [WR 2.19.11]. The Australians were going for 7 wins in a row in this event, but it didn’t happen.  GOLD: Tatjana Schoenmaker [South Africa] 2.22.02;  Molly Renshaw [England] 2.23.28;  Bronze: Chloe Tutton [Wales] 2.23.42. Australia’s Taylor McKeown finished 5th in 2.25.51, and Tessa Wallace was 6th in 2.26.59. Georgia Bohl finished 4rh in her heat.

Men’s SB8 [Para] 100 metre Breaststroke Final [WR 1.07.01].  Well, our brave para lads scored the trifecta in this event, in a wonderful display of swimming under the circumstances of their particular disabilities, certainly not evident in the pool.  GOLD: Timothy Disken [Australia]  1.12.42];  Silver:  Timothy Hodge [Australia] 1.15.80; Bronze: Blake Cochrane [Australia] 1.18.75.

Women’s SM10 [Para] 200 metre Individual Medley Final  [WR 2.24.90]  Another group of brave athletes, who had all come through seemingly insurmountable physical and mental odds to get to this stage.  The winner was the current World Champion and World record holder, and again won convincingly.  GOLD:  Sophie Pascoe [New Zealand] 2.27.72;  Silver: Aurelie Revard [Canada] 2.31.79; Bronze:  Katherine Downie [Australia] 2.31.81. Australia’s Paige Leonhardt finished 4th in 2.32.68, and Jasmine Greenwood finished 5th in 2.34.97. Jasmine is just 13 years of age.

Women’s 4 x 200 metres Relay Final: [WR 7.42.08].  Prior to this event, Australian relay teams had won the event over the past three Commonwealth Games. Tonight’s team were in front at the end of each leg, while the 4th swimmer, was severely challenged by the individual 200 metre champion, over the final 50 metres –  she rose to the challenge, and roared on by the home crowd, gave Australia another swimming medal in a relay.  GOLD:  Australia: 7.48.04 [Games Record] [in swimming order – Emma McKeon, Brianna Throssell, Leah Neale, and Ariarne Titmus];  Silver: Canada;  Bronze: England.

During the evening session, semi-finals were held in three events:

Men’s 50 metre Backstroke: Mitch Larkin 1st in Semi-final 1 [24.91], while Benjamin Treffers [24.99] and Zac Incerti [25.19] finished 1st and 2nd in Semi-final 2.

Women’s 50 metre Butterfly:   Semi-final 1 saw Cate Campbell [25.56] and Holly Barratt [25.88] finish 1st & 2nd, while in Semi-final 2,  young Madeline Groves swam brilliantly to win in the fastest qualifying time of 25.54.

Men’s 100 metre Freestyle: in Semi-final 1, Cameron McEvoy won in 48.50, and Jack Cartwright finished 3rd in 48.73.The 2nd Semi-final saw Kyle Chalmers finish 2bd [behind Chad Le Clos] in 48.70.

And that was our swimming sessions for Day 2.

 

Table Tennis

Team quarterfinal results today.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Australia’s men’s team has been knocked out in the quarterfinal. Facing Nigeria in the afternoon at Oxenford Studios in the Gold Coast, Nigeria’s team proved to be too strong, finishing the Australian side 3-1……….Women:  England defeated Canada 3-1;  India defeated Malaysia 3-0; ……..Men:  India defeated Malaysia 3-0; Singapore defeated Canada 3-2; Nigeria defeated Australia 3-1;  and England defeated Northern Island 3-0.

 

Triathlon Events.

Men’s  PTWC Final

GOLD: Joseph Townshend [England] 1.02.39;  Silver: Nic Beveridge [Australia] 1.03.28;  Bronze:  Bill Chaffey [Australia] 1.04.13.. Scott Crowley [Australia] finished in 5th position in 1.08.34.

Women’s PTWC Final:

GOLD:  Jade Jones [England] 1.11.07;  Silver: Emily Tapp [Australia] 1.12.56;  Bronze: Lauren Parker [Australia] n1.13.48.  Australia’s Sara Tait finished in 6th position in 1.23.32

Mixed Team Relay Final

This team event [of 4 competitors each team – two men, two womn] saw England claim the Gold in this event at Glasgow in 2014, where the English were spearheaded by the Brownlee brothers, who competed again today, as part of the English quarter. Today, an inspirational outcome for the future of the Australian triathlon competition

GOLD:  Australia: 1.17.36  [Gillian Backhouse, Jacob Birtwhistle, Matthew Hauser, and Ashleigh Gentle];  Silver: England 1.18.28 ;  Bronze: New Zealand  1.19.28

 

Weightlifting

Today’s results included an Australian Bronze medal. Total weights include combined results for Snatch, and Clean & Jerk elements of the competition.

Francois Etoundi kept the crowd at the Carrara Sports Arena crowd entertained from start to finish in the men’s 77kg division, starting off with a third-place finish in the Snatch portion of the competition and a backflip celebration for good measure. Etoundi tore his bicep on the second lift of the clean and jerk and fought through injury to claim bronze on his final lift of the day. Seen Lee injured her elbow and failed to record a successful lift in the Snatch portion of the women’s 63kg division, ending her day prematurely. Boris Elesin lifted a combined 301kg in the men’s 85 kg competition, finishing ninth and equalling his personal best.

Men’s 77kg Final [WR 380].  GOLD: Sathish Kumar Silvalin [India] 317;  Silver:  Jack Oliver [England]  312;  Bronze:  Francois Etoundi [Australia]  305.  Francois immigrated from the Cameroon – His father was a weightlifter and got him into the sport at age 14, after his mother encouraged him to stop boxing.

Men’s 85 kg Final  [WR 396]  – GOLD: Venkat Rahul Ragala [India] 338; Silver: Don Opeloge [Samoa] 331;  Bronze: Muhamad Fazrul Azrie [Malaysia] 328.  Australia’s Boris Elesin finished 9th on 301.

Women’s 63 Kg Final [WR 262] GOLD: Maude Charron [Canada]  220;  Silver: Zoe Smith [England] 207; and Bronze: Mona Pretorius [South Africa] 206.  Australia’s Seen Lee did not complete the competition.

 

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast , Part 3:  8 April

Day 4 of competition, Sunday, 8th April

 

The athletics competition started today – probably for this writer, the sport that I most enjoy following, and it was an early start, from 7am with the men’s and women’s Race Walks taking place at Currumbin Beach front

 

Athletics

In fact, I will begin today’s coverage with a look at the athletics program, which is the largest of all sports across the Games, competing for 58 gold medals. Track events range from 100m and 200m sprints up to 10,000m races, as well as hurdles, relay and road events. Para sport vents include the 1,500m wheelchair race; and men and woman’s   100m races. There are also the race walks and the marathons.  Field evnts include javelin, discus, hammer, shot put, high, long and triple jumps and pole vault, while the Para events include the men’s shot put, and women’s javelin and long jump.  There are also the combined events for the ‘true’ athletes, the men’s decathlon [4 track, 6 field events] and the women’s heptathlon [3 track, 4 field events].

 

For a true Athletics fan, what a wonderful way to start a Sunday morning – a GOLD Medal to Australian champion walker, Dane Bird-Smith in the 20 kilometre Walk!!. I hoped that would be an inspiration to our girls as they set off on the same course soon afterwards.

Men’s 20 Km Walk Race Final  –  [WR 1.16.36].

A wonderful walk by the Australian to fight off a number of challenges to his lead throughout the race.  GOLD:  Dane Bird-Smith {Australia] 1.19.34; Silver: Tom Bosworth [England]  1.19.38;  Bronze: Samuel Ireri Gathimba [Kenya] 1.19.51.  Australia’s Michael Hosking finished 10th in 1.25.35, and Rhydian Cowley in 11th position in 1.26.12.  There were only 15 starters in the race, all of whom completed the course.

Women’s 20 Km Walk Final  [WR: 1.24.38]

This race continued the wonderful start to the athletics program for Australia, with our second Gold of the morning, but it was also touched with a major disappointment. Having fought her way into the lead, over a fellow Australian, with 2 kilometres to the finish line, Australia’s Claire Tallent was distressingly disqualified [her third and final warning].  Watching her anguish as she slumped to the side of the track, took this writer back to the Sydney Olympics of 2000, as I sat up the top of the Stadium, watching on the screen as Australia’s Jane Saville prepared to enter the stadium on a victory lap to the walking gold medal – only to be disqualified as she was about to enter!!

Despite that, as indicated there was joy amongst the disappointment.

GOLD:  Jemima Montag [Australia] 1.32.50;  Silver: Alana Barber [New Zealand]  1.34.18;  Bronze: Bethan Davies [Wales]  1.36.08.   Australia’s Beki Smith finished 6th in 1.36.08, while Claire Tallent was disqualified. There 13 starters in the race of whom 11 completed the course.

Men’s Hammer Throw Final  [WR: 86.74]

GOLD:  Nick Miller [England] 80.26[GR];   Silver:  Matty Denny [Australia] 74.88; Bronze:  Mark Dry [Scotland]  73.12; Australia’s Jack Dalton finished 8th with a throw 38.28, and Huw Peacock, 11th with 65.19.  Matty’s eating habits changed after he missed the final of the last World Championships – said he was sick of being 130kg, so changed his food intake, and dropped 12kg in the past 6 months.. He is also a starter in the Discus competition.

Women’s 100 Metres Round 1 heats, and Semi-finals [WR: 10.49]

Australian results in the 6 Heats were –  Heat 4: Melissa Breen 4th [11.65]. The fastest qualifier was 1.27 by Michelle-Lee Ahya [Trinidad & Tobago]. Breen did not make it into the semi-finals.

The fastest time in the semi-finals was 11.06 secs by Khalifa St. Fort [Trinidad & Tobago]

Men’s 100 Metres Round 1 heats , and Semi-finals  [WR: 10.49]

Australian results in the 9 heats were  –  Heat 7: Josh Clarke, 3rd 10.56;  Heat 8: Rohan Browning, 3rd in 10.29;. Heat 9: Trae Williams, 1st in 10.28.   The fastest time was by Yohan Blake [Jamaica]  of 10.15 in Heat 8.

The three semi-finals saw Yohan Blake [Jamaica] run the fastest time in SF1 of 10.06.  Trae Williams ran in SF1, and finished 4th in 10.28, while Rohan Browning, in SF2, finished 3rd in 10.26. He went within a ‘whisper’ of making the Final:  He recorded the same rime as the 2nd placegetter in his semi-final [only the first 2 advanced plus the 6 next fastest.  He would also finished 9th in the overall rankings, on the same time as the 8th position, but eliminated when his time was expanded to thousandths of a second, just edged out!!

Women’s T38 [Para] Long Jump Final

A successful competition by all three Australian competitors.

GOLD:Olivia Breen [Wales] 4.86;  Silver:  Erin Cleaver [Australia] 4.36;  Bronze: Taylor Doyle [Australia] 4.22. Australia’s Kailyn Joseph finished 5th with 4.06

Men’s 400 Metres Round 1 heats  [WR 43.03]

There were 6 heats today. Australia’s Steven Solomon [our only runner] ran in Heat 5, and won that Heat in 45.39 secs. The fastest time in the heats was in Heat 6, was Bralon Taplin [Grenada] in 45.11. The Australian’s time was 2nd fastest.

Men’s Shot Put Qualifying  [WR: 23.12]

This event was divided into Groups A and B. Australia’s Damian Birkinhead had the best throw in Group A, with 20.17.  The lading qualifying throw was by Tomas Walsh [New Zealand] in Group A with 22.45.

Men’s 5000 Metres Final  [WR: 12.37.35]

No heats in this classic race, straight to the final.   The early laps of this 12 ½ lap race were described by the commentators as ‘slow pedestrian’, not what the public would like to see, all being ‘bad boys’ going too slow].

The starting list of 17 runners included three Australians – Stewart McSweyn [5th in 13.58.96], Morgan McDonald [8th in 14.11.37], and David McNeill [12th in 14.24.51] .

The race did hot up as the laps went past, and as usual, the African born runners would dominate the finish, hence the great by McSweyn to finish in 5th position.

GOLD:  Joshua Kiprui Cheptegie [Uganda] 12.50.83; Silver: Mohammad Ahmed [Canada] 13.52.78;  Bronze: Edward Pingua Zakayo [Kenya]  13.54.06. Ugandan runners finished 4th and 6th.

 

Artistic Gymnastics – Medal Events

Men’s Floor Exercise Final

GOLD:  Marios Georgiou [Cyprus]: 13.966;  Silver: Scott Morgan [Canada]: 13.833;  Bronze: Daniel Purvis [Scotland] 13.733. No Australians in the final eight.

Men’s Pommel Horse Final

GOLD:  Rhys McClenaghan [Northern Ireland] 15.100;  Silver: Max Whitlock [England] 15.100;  Bronze: Zachary Clay [Canada]14.300. Australia’s Christopher Remkes finished 6th with 13.733, and Michael Tone finished 7th with 12.433.

Women’s Vault Final

GOLD: Shallon Olsen [Canada] 14.566;  Silver: Elizabeth Black [Canada] 14.233; Bronze: Emily Whitehead [Australia] 13.849.  Australia’s Georgia Godwin finished 6th with 13.650.

Men’s Rings Final

GOLD: Courtney Tulloch [England] 14.833;  Silver: Nile Wilson [England] 14.400;  Bronze: Scott Morgan [Canada] 14.000.

Women’s Uneven Bars Final

GOLD: Georgia-Mae Fenton [England] 14.600;  Silver:  Brittany Rogers [Canada] 14.200;  Bronze:  Georgia Godwin [Australia]  13.433. Australia’s Georgia-Rose Brown finished 4th with 13.233.

 

Badminton

Mixed Team event Semi Final matches played today..

India defeated Singapore 3-1.    Malaysia defeated England 3-0

 

Basketball

The Australian women’s team have identified Canada as the biggest threat to their quest for gold. They clashed tonight in the evening session of the preliminary rounds of the GC2018 Basketball competition in Townsville.

Women’s Preliminary Pool A:  England defeated Mozambique 78-51;   Australia defeated Canada 100-61;

Women’s Preliminary Pool B: New Zealand defeated India 90-65;  Jamaica defeated Malaysia.81-58

Men’s Preliminary Pool B: England defeated Cameroon 81-54;  Scotland defeated India 96-81 .

 

Beach Volleyball

Men: Pool A:  Australia defeated SKN 2-0 [21-3,21-11]

Women: Pool A: Australia defeated Scotland 2-0 [21-9, 21-9]

 

Boxing

India’s Mery Kom is a mother of three, a politician, boxing star and the subject of a blockbuster 2014 Bollywood movie. She will be out to progress through to the 45-48kg quarterfinals in her quest for gold today –  well, Mary managed to do that, as we see below.

Women’s 45-48 KG Quarter-finals:

Alnusha Dilrusshi Koddithuwakku [Sri Lanka] defeated Brandy Barnes [Cayman Islands];  MC Mery Kom [India] defeated Megan Gordon [Scotland];  Kristina O’Hara [Northrn Island] vs Lynsey Holdaway [Wales]; Lethabo Modukanele [Botswana] vs Tasmyn Benny [New Zealand].

Women’s 69 kg Qurrter-finals

Rosie Eccles [Wales] defeated Magan Maka [Tonga]] ;  Kaye Scott [Australia] defeated Itunu Oriala [Nigeria]  5-0;  Sandy Ryann [England vs Lavlina Borgohain [India]; and Marie-Jeanne Parent [Canada] vs Lorna Simbi [Kenya].

Men’s 75kg Round of 16:   Viksas Krishan [India] defeated Campbell Somerville [Australia] 5-0;

Men’s 64 kg Round of 16.   LiamWilson [Australia] vs John Ume [PNG];

 

Cycling Track

It was the final day of Track Cycling, with four Gold medals being offered, which saw a successful night for the Aussie riders

Men’s 1000 Metres Time Trial Final [WR: 56.03]

This saw a brilliant come from behind winner by Australia’s Matthew Glaerzer – described as ‘redemption’ for his shock failure in the sprint event on Saturday  – in his words, he wanted “to get one up for Australia, because I owed them one for yesterday..”  He was the last rider in the Time Trial, and executed a brilliant performers to come over the top of the leaders.

GOLD:  Matthew Glaetzer [Australia] 59.340];  Silver: Edward Dawkins [New Zealand]  59.928; Bronze: Callum Skinner [Scotland]  1.01.083:

Women’s 10 km Scratch Race Final

Another wonderful performance by the three Australian, working well as an ‘unofficial’  team, and paving the way for the eventual winner  –  as one reporter put it “Cure’s victory was built on the sheer grunt work  from her teammates…who covered every more earlier in the race to set a tempo in the closing stages that prevented any counter attack” [Reece Homfray, Melbourne Herald-Sun].

GOLD:  Amy Cure [Australia];  Silver:  Neah Evans [Scotland]  Bronze: Emily Kay [England].  Australia’s Annette Edmondson and Ashlee Ankudinoff finished in 14th and 17th positions, after racing with Cure for the last few laps before dropping back in the closing lap and a bit. There were 24 starters in the race.

Women’s Keirin Final

The Australian duo in the final gained the quinella.

GOLD: Stephanie Morton [Australia];  Silver:  Kaarle McCulloch [Australia]; Bronze:  Natasha Hansen [New Zealand].  That win to Morton [on top of her wins in the Team and Individual Sprints] joins Anna Meares, Kathy Watt and Cameron Meyer as the only Australian cyclists to win three gold medals at the one Games. Morton won her heat in the event, while McCulloch finishd 2nd in her heat

Men’s 40kmPoints Scratch Race Final

GOLD:  Mark Stewart [Scotland] 81pts;  Silver: Campbell Stewart [New Zealand] 69pts;  Bronze: Ethan Hayter [England] 68pts. A brave effort by our champion cyclist , Cameron Meyer, who on the last lap, was still in line for the bronze, but didn’t have the finish to gain the necessary points.  Cameron finished in 4th position with 50 points. Australia’s Kellard O’Brien finished in 8th place vwith 45 points, while Leigh Howard finished 21st.

 

Hockey

Women Pool A:  India defeated England 2-1

Men Pool A: New Zealand defeated South Africa 6-0; Australia defeated Scotland 6-1;

Women Pool B: New Zealand drew with Canada 0-0;

Men Pool B:  India defeated Wales 4-3;  England drew with Pakistan 2-2

 

Lawn Bowls

Men’s Triples Gold Medal match

Scotland defeated Australia:  19-14 [Aussies:  Barrie Lester, Nathan Rice & Aron Sherriff];

Bronze Medal Match: Norfolk Island defeated Canada 1-16

[Australia defeated Canada in the Semi-final 20-5]

Women’s Singles Gold/ Medal match

Laura Daniels [Wales] vs Jo Edwards [New Zealand]

Bronze Medal match:  South Africa vs Canada

Mixed B2/B3 Pairs, Round 4: Australia defeated Wales 18-6

Women’s Fours Semi-final: Australia defeated Canada 10-9

Open B6/B7/B8 Triples Round 4:  Australia defeated Wales  22-12

 

Netball

Women: Pool A:  Jamaica defeated Northern Island 79-41;  Australia defeated South Africa 60-38;

Women: Pool B:  England defeated Uganda 55-45; Malawi defeated New Zealand 57-53 [I believe this was the first time that a team other than Australia had defeated New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games].

 

Shooting

The shooting competitions commenced today, and include full-bore, pistol, rifle and shot gun, 19 medal events in all.  The full-bore events are known as the Queen’s Prize individual, and the Queens Prize pairs, and are open to anybody, meaning women and men compete against each other. There were three finals on the program today, which saw two medal wins to Australian shooters  – Silver for Elena Galiabovitch, and Gold for Dane Sampson. A clinching victory with the final two shots in the Men’s Air Rifle, a teary-eyed Sampson, who had been shooting since he was 12 years old, embraced his father, who is the President of Target Rifle Australia and was the chief range officer for qualification rounds of his event. The day’s results were:

Women’s 10 Metre Air Pistol Final

GOLD:  Manu Bhaker [India]: 24.09;  Silver: Heena Sidhu [India]  234.0; Bronze: Elena Galiabovitch [Australia] 214.9.

Men’s 10 Metre Air Pistol Final:

GOLD:  Dane Sampson [Australia] 245.0;  Silver: Abdullah Hel Baki [Bangladesh] 244.7;  Bronze: Ravi Kumar  [India] 224.1.  Australia’s Alex Hoberg finished 4th [204.6]

Women’s Skeet Qualifying, and Final

Order of finishing in qualification: 3. Aislin Jones  71+1 [Qualified for the final]  9. Laura Coles 67. Best result was 74 by competitor from Cyprus

In the final:  GOLD: Andri Eleftheriou [Cyprus] 52;  Silver: Amber Hill [England] 49;  Panagiota Andreou [Cyprus]  40.  Australia’s Aislin Jones finished 6th with a score of 13.

Men’s Skeet Qualification, Day 1.

Australia’s James Boulding finished 9th [47], and Paul Adams finished 10th [47]

 

Squash

There were no Australians featured in any of the semi-finals or finals completed today.

 

Swimming  

The women’s 200m backstroke loomed as an epic battle between Australia and Canada. All eyes would be on Aussie star Emily Seebohm and 100m backstroke champion Kylie Masse. The men’s 100m will test Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers and teammate Cameron McEvoy.

Needless to say, it would be another exciting night at the swimming pool –  with Australian swimmers picking up 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 4 Bronze, including a third relay win.  The night’s results were as follows.

Women’s 200 metre Backstroke Final  [WR:2.04.06]

GOLD:  Kylie Masse [Canada] 2.05.98 [GR];  Silver:  Taylor Ruck [Canada] 2.06.42;  Bronze:  Emily Seebolm [Australia] 2.06.82. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown finished 4th in 2.07.86, and Hayley Baker finished 6th in 2.11.28

Men’s 100 metre Freestyle Final [WR: 46.91]

GOLD: Duncan Scott [Scotland]  48.02;  Silver: Chad Le Clos [South Africa] 48.15; Bronze:  Kyle Chalmers [Australia] 48.15. This was a brilliant finish by the Scott to come from behind in the closing metres over the favoured likely winner.  Australia’s  Cameron McEvoy finished 4th in 48.44, and Jack Cartwright, 6th in 48.62.

Men’s SM8 [Para] 200 metres Individual Medley Final  [WR: 2.20.01]

GOLD:  Jesse Aungles [Australia] 2.30.77;  Silver:  Blake Cochrane [Australia]  2.32.72;  Bronze:  Philippe Vachon [Canada] 2.34.03. Australia’s Rogan Bright finished 6th 2.42.89

Women’s S9 [Para] 100 metre Freestyle Final  [WR 1.00.91]

GOLD:  Lakeisha Patterson [Australia] 1.03.02;  Silver:  Alice Tai [England]  1.03.07; Bronze:  Elle Cole [Australia] 1.03.36.  Australia’s Emily Beecroft finished 4th in 1.03.76.

Women’s 200 metres Individual Medley Final  [WR: 2.06.12]

GOLD:  Siobban Marie O’Connor [England]  2.09.80; Silver:  Sarah Darcel [Canada] 2.11.14;  Bronze:  Erika Seltentreich-Hodgson [Canada] 2.11.74’  Australia’s Blair Evans finished 5th in 2.12.76, and Meg Bailey was 8th in 2.14.58.

Men’s 50 metre Backstroke Final  [WR: 24.04]  –  this was the first of two trifectas for the Aussies swimmers!!

GOLD:  Mitch Larkin [Australia] 34.68;  Silver: Benjamin Treffers [Australia] 24.84;  Bronze:  Zac Incerti [Australia] 25.06.

Women’s 50 metre Butterfly Final  [WR  24.43]

GOLD:  Cate Campbell [Australia]  25.59; Silver:  Holly Barratt [Australia]  25.67; Bronze:  Madeline Groves [Australia]  25.69

Men’s 4 x 200 metre Relay Final  [WR: 6.58.55]

GOLD:  AUSTRALIA: 7.05.97 [GR] [Alexander Graham, Kyle Chalmers, Elijah Winnington, and Mack Horton];  Silver: England: 7.08.57;  Bronze: 7.09.89

 

Table Tennis

Women’s Team Semi-finals:  Singapore defeated Australia 3-0; India defeated England 3-0;

Gold/Silver Medal Match:  Singapore defeated India  3-1.

Bronze Medal match: England defeated Australia 3-1 [Australia: Melissa Tapper, Jian Fang Lay, Miao Miao]

 

Weightlifting

Women’s 69 kg Final: [WR: 276]

GOLD: Punam Yudav [India] 222;  Silver: Sarah Davies [England]  217;  Bronze: Apolonia Vaivai [Fiji].  Australia’s Pip Malone finished 5th with lift of 209.

 Men’s 94kg Final.  [WR 417]

GOLD:  Steven Kari [PNG] 216 [CR/GR]; Silver: Boady Santavy [Canada] 369;  Bronze:  Vikas Thakur [India] 351.  No Aussies in the final.

Women’s 75 Kg Final  [WR 296]

GOLD: Emily Godley [England]  222;  Silver: Marie-Eve Beauchemin [Canada] 221;  Bronze: Laura Hughes [Wales].  Australia’s Stephanie Davies finished 5th with 197.

 

At the conclusion of Sunday’s competition, the Podium listing reads as follows  –  G  –  S  – B [Total Medals]

Australia:             31-25-28    [84]

England:             19-19-9      [47]

Canada:               7-15-10      [32]

India:                      7-2-3      [12]

Scotland:               6-7-10      [23]

New Zealand:         4-7-6      [17]

South Africa:          4-1-4       [9]

Wales:                     3-3-3      [9]

 

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast , Part 3:  9-10 April

Day 5 of competition, Monday, 9th April

 

Athletics

Day 2 of the athletics program got underway today with a morning and evening session, and it would include the beginning of the Men’s Decathlon event [described below].

The Men’s Decathlon event

The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin.   Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined by the combined performance in all. Performance is judged on a points system in each event, not by the position achieved in each specific events. The decathlon is contested by male athletes, while female athletes typically compete in the heptathlon, to be decided later in the week.. In the Commonwealth Games, the decathlon is divided into a two-day competition, with the track and field events held in the order below. Traditionally, all decathletes who finish the event, rather than just the winner or medal winning athletes, do a round of honour together after the competition.  Day 1 events are 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres. Day 2 has the 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500 metres. I would describe the decathlon [and heptathlon athletes] as the most genuine all-round athletes of any competition

As indicated there were 5 events held today, with 12 competitors, including two Australians, a relatively small field.

100 metres, divided into 2 heats. Australia’s Kyle Cranston competed in Heat 1, and finished 2nd in 11.16 [earned 825 points]. In Heat 2, Cedric Dubler finished 3rd in 10.69 [931 points]. The best result of the 2 heats was recorded by Damian Warner [Canada] in 10.29 [1025 points].

In the Long Jump competition, the best jump was performed by Cedric Dubler [Australia] with 7.59 [957 points]. Kyle Cranston finished 8th with a jump of  7.18, and 857 points]. Second best result came from the Canadian, Damian Warner, with 7.54 [945 points].

The Shot Put category was won by Lindon Victor of Grenada, with a put of 15.79 [838 pts]. Kyle Cranston finished 7th, 13.59 [703 pts], and Cedric Dubler, 11th with 12.34 [627 pts].

The High Jump competition resulted in Cedric Dubler finishing 3rd, with a jump of 2.01 [813 pts], and Kyle Cranston was 8th, with 1.92 [731 pts]. The leading jump was 2.07, by Pierce Lepage of Canada [868 pts].

The v400 metres, final event for Day 1, was run over two heats.  In Heat 1, the winner was Pierce Lepage [Canada] in a time of 47.81 [918 pts]. Kyle Cranston finished 4th in 49.94 [817 pts]. In Heat 2, the winner was Damian Warnr of Canada in 48.12 [903 pts]. Cedric Dubler finished 2nd, in 48.39 [890 pts].

After 5 events, the top three competitors are 1. Damian Warner [Canada] 4509 pts.  2. Pierce Lepage [Canada] 4380 pts. 3. Lindon Victor [Grenada] 4290 pts. Australia’s Cedric Dubler sits in 4th position on 4218 pts, and Kyle Cranston in 8th position on 3933 pts. There are now only 10 competitors left in the Decathlon after two athletes did not complete today’s events.

 

Men’s High Jump Qualifying event commenced today, divided into two groups.[WR: 2.45]

In Group A,  Australia’s Brandon Starc finished 3rd with a jump of 2.21, while in Group B, Joel Baden finished 8th with 2.15. The best result of the two groups was a leap of 2.21 by 12 athletes, the number required to advance to the Final , including Brandon Starc.

Women’s 400 metres heats were held during the morning session [WR: 47.60]. There were 5 heats, which included 3 Australian girls.  The fastest time recorded in the heats was in Heat 2, won by Stephenie McPherson [Jamaica] in 50.80.   For Australia, Benere Oboya came 6th in Heat 3 [55.62], Anneliese Rubie, 1st in Heat 4 [52.32] and Morgan Mitchell. 5th in Heat 5 [52.81]. Anneliese qualified 10th, and Morgan 16th for the semi-finals.

Men’s 110 metre Hurdles  [WR: 12.80], run over 2 heats, leading to tomorrow’s Final

In Heat 1, Nicholas Hough of Australia [our only competitor] finished 3rd in 13.46, and qualified for the final. The fastest qualifier was Andrew Pozzi of England, in 13.29.

Men’s T54 [Para] 1500 metres ‘Wheelchair’ event.  Two heats were held, for the Final on Tuesday.  In Heat 1,  Jake Lappin of Australia finished 1st in 3.11.72, while Sam Rizzo of Australia finished in 4th place, in a time of 3.12.91. In the 2nd heat, Australia’s Kurt Fearnley OAM,  finished 2nd in 3.06.72. The winner of that heat – Richard Chiassaro [England] – gained the fastest qualifying time of 3.05.76, a new Games record, initially broken by Lappin in the 1at heart.  Both Fearnley and Lappin qualified for the final.  In Fearnley’s words [who won Gold in the 1500 metre event at Delhi in 2010, and Silver at Glasgow in 2014]  “The Games experience is unique and inspiring, as para athletes compete alongside their able-body compatriots in their respective nations’ colours, striving to win gold. You’ll never get a more accurate representation of community within the sporting landscape, and hopefully those who are reading this get to appreciate this as much as I do”.

Women’s F46 Javelin Throw [Para] Final

Gold:  Hollie Arnold [Wales]: 44.43  [this was a new World Record throw in this event];  Silver: Holly Robinson [New Zealand] 43.32;  Bronze: Friana Kwevira [Vanuatu] 24.54.

Men’s T38 [Para] 100 metre Final

GOLD:  Evan O’Hanlon [Australia]  11.09;  Silver:  Dylan Buis [South Africa] 11.33;  Bronze: Charl Du Toit [South Africa] 11.35.  Australia’s Samuel Walker finished 6th in 11.80

Women’s 1500 metres, Round 1, Heats 1 and 2.  [WR. 3.50.07]

Heat 1 was won as expected by South Africa’s somewhat controversial runner, Caster Semenya in 4.05.86.  Australia’s Georgia Griffith finished 2nd in 4.06.41 [ a Personal Best].  Heat 2 was won by Beatrice Chepkoech [Kenya] in 4.08.29, while Australia’s Linden Hall finished 3rd in 4.08.64, and Zoe Buckman, 8th in 4.11.78. All three Australians qualified for Tuesday’s final.

Men’s 400 metres Semi-finals [three of them] saw the following results.[WR: 43.03].

SF1: Australia’s Steven Solomon finished 3rd, in 45.55, behind Isaac Makwala [Botswana] in 45.00.  SF2 was won by Bralon Taplin [Grenada] in 45.44, while SF3 was won by Muhammed Anas Yahiya [India] in 45.44.  Solomon qualified 6th for the final on Tuesday.

Men’s Shotput Final  [WR: 23.12]

GOLD:  Tomas Walsh [New Zealand] 21.41;   Silver: Chukwuebuka Enekwechi [Nigeria] 21.14;  Bronze: Tim Nedow  [Canada] 20.91.  Australia’s Damien Birkinhad finished 5th with 20.77.

Woman’s 10,000 Metres Final  [WR: 20.17.45].  Your writer actually missed this race [due to a timing misjudgement], one of the highlights of an athletics program together with the Men’s equivalent]. Australia had three Australian girls in the starting field of 19 runners.

GOLD: Stella Chesang [Uganda] in 31.45.30.  Silver:  Stacy Ndiwa [Kenya]  31.46.36; Bronze:  Mercyline Chelangat [Uganda]  – African runners dominating the race as in past competitions, with positions 4 – 12 including athletes from Uganda [2], Kenya [1], Tanzania [1] and Rwanda [1]. But there were two Australians amongst that group  –  Celia Sullohern, finished 6th in 31.50.75, and Madelin Hills came 8th in 32.01.04, while Eloise Wellkings finishd in 16th position in 32.51.47.

WOMEN’S 100 METRE FINAL  [WR: 10.49]  – the winner here was expected to be a strong competitor against Jamaica’s Williams, and that would prove to be the case.

1.GOLD:Michelle-Lee Ahye [Trinidad and Tobago] in 11.14;  2.Silver: Christania Williams [Jamaica]  11.21; 3.Bronze:  Gayon Evans [Jamaica]  11.22 followed by 4. Asha Philip [England] 11.28; 5. Natasha Morrison [Jamaica]; 6. Khalifa St. Fort [Trinidad & Tobago] 11.37;  7. Reyare Thomas [Trinidad & Tobagp] 11.51;  and 8.Halitie Hor [Ghana]  11.54.

This was the 5th Commonwealth Games in a row that an athlete from a different nation has won the event, and I believe it is the first Gold Medal to Trinidad & Tobago.

MEN’S 100 METRE FINAL  [WR: 9.58]. This was the first time that athletes from South Africa had featured in the final, and the outcome below was unexpected. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, who for so long had run in the shadow of Usain Bolt, was expected to win the race, But as we see here, he didn’t finish behind Bolt this time, but in fact, behind two South Africans.

1.GOLD:  Akane Simbine [South Africa] in 10.06; 2.Silver:  Henricho Bruintjies [South Africa] 10.17;  3. Bronze: Yohan Blake [Jamaica] 10.19;  4. Seye Ogunlewe [Nigeria] 10.19;  5. Kemar Hyman [Cayman Islands]  10.21;  6. Jason Rogers [St. Kitts & Nevis] 10.24; and 7.Enoch Olaoluwa Adegoke [Nigeria] 10.35. Adam Gemili of England did not start.

Yes, a lengthy report, but a very busy program.

 

Artistic Gymnastics

Today, the final day of this program, saw  Australian success which didn’t really get the recognition on the television coverage, that was deserved. As reported from one source, of which there were few –    “A 147cm-tall pocket rocket who started life in a Filipino orphanage has become Australia’s latest Commonwealth Games hero, snatching a historic gymnastics gold medal. Inspirational Christopher Remkes led a stunning medal charge in the final day finale at Coomera Indoor Sports Centre, grabbing gold on the vault, while teammate Alexandra Eade took home gold in the women’s floor.  Remkes, who was adopted by South Australian couple Mike and Dora Remkes as a two year old, said his background was the force behind his success, in an emotional tribute to his adoptive parents”

Today’s results, which included two Gold, and one Silver for Australia, were as follows.

Men’s Vault Final

GOLD: Christopher Remkes [Australia] 14.799;  Silver: Courtney Tulloch [England] 14.666;  Bronze:  Dominick Cunningham [England] 14.333.

Men’s Parallel Bars Final

GOLD: Marios Georgiou [Cyprus]  14.533;  Silver:  Nile Wilson [England] 14.533;  Bronze:  Frank Baines [Scotland]  14.400

Women’s Balance Beam Final

GOLD: Alice Kinsella [England]  13.700;  Silver:  Georgia-Rose Brown [Australia]  13.066;  Bronze:  Kelly Sim [England] 13.033. Australia’s Emily Whitehead finished in 5th position with a score of 12.500

Men’s Horizontal Bar Final

GOLD:  Nile Wilson [England]  14.533;  Silver: Cory Paterson [Canada] 14.000;  Bronze:  James Hall [England] 14.000.  Australia’s Michal Tone finished 5th with 12.733.

Women’s Floor Exercise Final

GOLD:  Alexandra Eade [Australia] 13.333;  Silver: Latalia Bevan [Wales] 13.300;  Bronze:  Shallon Olsen [Canada] 13.266.  Australia’s Georgia-Rose Brown finished 5th on 13.100.

 

Badminton

The Mixed Teams Medal events were held today.

GOLD/SILVER Match:  India defeated Malaysia   3-1

Bronze Medal match:  England defeated Singapore   3-0

 

Basketball

Both the Australian Men and Women played matches today and were successful.

Women’s Pool A: Australia defeated England 118-55;  Canada defeated Mozambique 85-53;

Men’s Pool A: Australia defeated Nigeria 97-55;  New Zealand defeated Canada 82-60

 

Beach Volleyball

Preliminary round matches continued today  –  Men: Pool A: Australia [McHugh/Schumann] defeated Trinidad & Tobago 2-0  [21-13, 21-16].

 

Boxing

We had three Australians competing in today’s fights for three strong wins, with probably the most outstanding of those being the convincing victory by Caitlin Parker in the Women’s 75 kg category over the hot favourite for that event, and put herself in for a medal. . The Australian results were as follows.

Women’s 75 kg, Quarter-final 2:  Caitlin Parker [Australia] defeated Natasha Gale [England]  5-0.

Men’s 81 kg Round of 16:  Clay Waterman [Australia] defeated Shaun Lazzarini [Scotland]  4-1;

Men’s 60 kg Round of 16:  Harry Garside [Australia] defeated Tryagain Ndevelo [Namibia] 5-0

 

Hockey

Women Pool B:  Australia drew with New Zealand 0-0 [despite the score ?, described by the commentators as a great game of hockey];  Scotland defeated Ghana 5-0;

Women Pool A:  South Africa defeated Wales 2-0;  England defeated Malaysia 3-0.

 

Lawn Bowls

The highlight, for Australia, in today’s extensive program of the Lawn Bowls competition  – a great boost for the sport in Australia [as if it was needed]  – a wonderful win by the Women’s Fours in the final of that category.

The Gold and Bronze Medal matches fell as follows.

Women’s Fours Gold/Silver Medal match:  Australia defeated South Africa 18-16  [the Aussie team consisting of Kelsey Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca van Asch, and Natasha Scott];  Bronze Medal match: Malta defeated Canada 17-8.

Men’s Pairs: Gold Medal match:  Wales defeated Scotland 12-10; Bronze Medal match: Cook Islands defeated Malta 17-11.

Round matches featuring Australia.

Women’s Pairs Round 1: Australia defeated Zambia 24-5;  Men’s B2/B3 Pairs Round 5: Scotland defeated Australia 15-11;  Men’s Singles Round 1: Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Taiki Paniani [Cook Islands] 21-6;  Men’s Fours, Round 1: Australia defeated Botswana 21-5;  Women’s Triples, Round 1: Australia defeated PNG 32-12;    Men’s Singles, Round 2: Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Brendan Aquiilina [Malta] 21-17;  Open B6/B7/B8 Triples, Round 5: Australia defeated New Zealand 16-11;

 

Netball

Women: Pool A:  Australia defeated Fiji 108-23; Jamaica defeated Barbados 76-32;

Women: Pool B:  England defeated Wales 85-31; New Zealand defeated Scotland 60-29.

 

Shooting

Today’s events saw another Medal [Silver] for Australia  – Kerry Bell, fell short in his final shot for the Gold, in the Men’s 10 metre Air Pistol.  Results for the day were as follows.

Men’s 10 metre Air Pistol Final

GOLD:  Jitu Rai [India]: 235.1;  Silver:  Kerry Bell [Australia]  233.5;  Bronze:  Om Mitharval [India]  214.3.  Australia’s Daniel Repacholi finished in 4th place with 193.4.

 

 

Women’s 10 metre Air Rifle Final

GOLD:  Martina Lindsay Veloso [Singapore] 247.2;  Silver: Mehuli Ghosh [India] 247.2; Bronze:  Apurvi Chandela [India]  225.3.  Australia’s Victoria Rossiter finished 7th with 140.2, while Emma Adams finished 16th at the qualification stage.

Men’s Skeet Finals

GOLD: Georgios Achilleos [Cyprus] 57;  Silver:  Ben Llewellin [Wales] 56;  Bronze: Gareth McAuley [Northern Ireland] 45.  Australians James Bolding, and Paul Adams, finished 9th and 10th at the first qualification stage, and 9th and 7th respectively in the 2nd qualification event.

Queen’s Prize Finals Day 1: 3rd: Jim Bailey and Ben Emms [Australia] of 16 pairs.

 

Squash

Women’s Singles:

Gold/Silver Medal ,match:  Joelle King [New Zealand] defeated Sarah-Jane Perry [England]  3-2

Bronze Medal Match:  Tesni Evans [Wales] defeated Nicol David [Malaysia] 3-1.

Men’s Singles

Gold/Silver match: James Willstrop [England] defeated Paul Coll [New Zealand]  3-0

Bronze Medal match:  Nafizwan Adnan [Malaysia] defeated Joel Makin [Wales] 3-2

 

Swimming

For the second last night of the swimming competition, it was a night of 9 finals and a handful of semi-finals, with yet more successes for the Australian team , a few surprises, and another brilliant swim by  Chad Le Clos, the champion South African swimmer.

His win in the final event of the night,  meant he became the most successful swimming medallist in the Commonwealth Games including previous competitions –  having won 7 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze [a total of 16 medals]. He would also be the first swimmer to win the 50m, 100m, and 200m Butterfly events on the same program. An outstanding performance.

The perhaps shock of the night was the victory of Bronte Campbell over her more highly fancied sister, Cate, in the 100 metres freestyle final.  The latter was going for this race after winning in 2014 – only Dawn Fraser had previously won the event twice, which Australia has won on 11 occasions at the Commonwealth Games.

Let’s look at the results as they happened, which saw the Australian swimmers come up to Trifectas in the first two finals!!

Men’s 200 metre Backstroke Final  [WR: 1.51.92]

GOLD:  Mitch Larkin [Australia] 1.56.10;  Silver:  Bradley Woodward [Australia]  1.56.57;  Bronze: Josh Beaver [Australia] 1.57.04

Women’s 800 metres Freestyle Final  [WR:  8.04.79]

GOLD:  Ariarne Titmus [Australia]  8.20.02;  Silver:  Jessica Ashwood [Australia]  8.27.60;  Bronze:  Kiah Melverton  [Australia]  8.28.59

Men’s F7 50 metre Freestyle Final  [WR: 27.35]

GOLD: Matthew Levy [Australia]  28.60;  Silver:  Christian Sadie  [South Africa] 29.65;  Bronze:  Wei SoongToh [Singapore] 29.83.  Australia’s Rohan Bright finished 5th in 30.71, and, Matthew Haanappel was 6th in 30.75.

Women’s S89 100 metres Breaststroke Final  [WR: 1.13.77]

GOLD:  Sophie Pascoe [New Zealand] 1.18.09;  Silver:  Paige Leonhardt [Australia] 1.18.81;  Bronze:  Madeleine Scott [Australia]  1.19.98.  Australia’s Jasmine Greenwood finished in 5th position, in 1.25.23.

Men’s 50 metre Breaststroke Final  [WR: 25.395]

GOLD: Cameron Van Der Burgh [South Africa]  26.58;  Silver: Adam Peaty [England]  26.62;  Bronze:  James Wilby [England]  27.37.  Australia’s Jake Packard finished 4th in 27.53, and James McKechnie finished 5th in 27.59.

Women’s 100 metre Breaststroke Final  [WR: 1.04.13]

GOLD: Tatjana Schoenmaker [South Africa] 1.06.41;  Silver:  Kierra Smith [Canada]  1.07.05;  Bronze:  Georgia Bohl [Australia]  1.07.22. Australia’s Leiston Pickett finished 6th in 1.08.04, and Jessica Hansen was 8th in 1.08.53.

Women’s 200 metre Butterfly Final  [WR: 2.01.81]

GOLD:  Alys Thomas [Wales]  2.05.45 [GR];  Silver:  Laura Taylor [Australia]  2.07.39; Bronze:  Emma McKeon [Australia]  2.08.05.  Australia’s Brianna Throssell finished in 5th place, in 2.08.82.

Women’s 100 metres Freestyle Final  [WR: 51.71]

GOLD:  Bronte Campbell [Australia]  52.27 [GR];  Silver:  Cate Campbell [Australia]  52.69;  Bronze:  Taylor Ruck [Canada] 53.08.  Australia’s Shayna Jack, finished 4th in 53.83.

Men’s 100 metres Butterfly Final  [WR: 49.82]

GOLD:  Chad Le Clos [South Africa]  60.65 [GR];  Silver:  James Guy [England]  51.31;  Bronze:  Grant Irvine [Australia] 51.50.  Australia’s David Morgan finished 4th in 51.94.

Men’s 50 metres Freestyle Semi-finals

In Semi-final 1, Australia’s Janes Roberts, and James Magnussen finished 2nd and 3rd in 22.11 and 22.20 behind South Africa’s Bradley Tandy [21.92]. In Semi-final 2,  Cameron McEvoy finished in 2nd place in 22.00, behind England’s Benjamin Proud [21.30 GR].

Women’s 50 metre Backstroke Semi-finals

Semi-final 1 was won by Georgia Davies [Wales] in 27.86, closely followed by Holly Barratt [Australia] in 28.12. In Semi-final 2, Emily Seebolm of Australia won in 27.89, and Minna Atherton [Australia] finished in 6th place on 28.47

 

Table Tennis

Women’s Team

Gold/Silver Medal match: India defeated Singapore 3-1

Bronze Medal match:  England defeated Australia 3-1  [Melissa Tapper, Jian Fang Lay, & Miao Miao]  [Australia had previously lost the semi-final to Singapore  0-3, and India defeated England 3-0].

 

Weightlifting

A big crowd, and some close exciting results in the four weightlifting finals held today, which saw some great results for the Pacific Island nations, and a Silver Medal for one of our Australian lifters.

Men’s 105 kg Final  [WR: 437]

GOLD:  Sanelo Mao [Samoa]  360; Silver:  Purdeep Singh [India]  352;  Bronze:  Owen Boxall [England]  351.  Australia’s Ridge Barredo finished 8th with 313.

Women’s 90 kg Final  [WR: 283]

GOLD: Eileen Cikamatana [Fiji]  233;  SILVER: Kaity Fassina [Australia]  232;  Bronze: Clementine Meukeugni N [Cameroon] 226.

Women’s +90 kg Final  [WR: 348]

GOLD: Feagaiga Stowers [Samoa]  253; Silver:  Charisma Amoe-Ta [Nauru]  243;  Bronze: Emily Campbell [England] 242. Australia’s Deb Lovely-Acason finished in 4th spot with226.

Men’s +105kg Final [WR: 477]

GOLD:  David Liti [New Zealand]  403;  Silver: Lauititi Lui [Samoa]  400;  Bronze:  Muhammad Nooh Da [Pakistan]  222.  Australia’s Damon Kelly finished 5th with 363.

 

 

Day 6 of competition, Tuesday, 10th April

 

We had another great day of athletics competition, the final day & night of the swimming competition [thankfully], while the Cycling Time Trials on the road took place today at the Currumbin Beachfront.  Many of the team sports moved closer towards and/or well into the medal stages of their events. Four new champions were crowned in the Para Powerlifting [which has been dominated at the past two Games by Nigeria], while at Belmont Shooting Centre, Gold medals were awarded in the Women’s and Men’s events, as well as the coveted Queen’s Prize Pairs.

Any my cyclist of the moment, Cameron Meyer, well he didn’t let us down.  Today I will start with the swimming competition.

 

Swimming

I will admit to being rather relieved that tonight was the final session of swimming. Yes they win a lot of medals for Australia, and draw a lot of publicity,  but finally the television coverage can concentrate a little more on a few other sports  –  although on past form, we will still continue to get constant replays and interviews with the swimmers for the rest of the week! Oh well, I guess that’s what the broad population seems to thrive on!!!

However, let not my opinion detract from some more wonderful performances by our swimmers last night.  Nine Finals, eight Gold Medals to Australia  –  of 50 Swimming Gold Medals available, Australia won 28 of them [compare that with the previous high at the Manchester Games of 27 out of 48. Threw were also a number of individual milestones throughout the course of the meet as well, as indicated as we go along.

After a morning of heats, etc, the evening session brought on the final nine Medal events to complete the program.

Women’s 400 metres Freestyle Final  [WR: 3.56.46]

GOLD: Ariarne Titmus [Australia]: 4.00.93 [GR];  Silver:  Holly Hibbtt [England]  4.05.31;  Bronze:  Eleanor Faulkner [England]  4.07.35.  Australia’s Jessica Ashwood finished 5th in 4.10.32, and Mikkalya Sheridan was 6th in 4.12.05.

Men’s 50 metre Freestyle Final.  [WR: 20.91]

GOLD:  Benjamin Proud [England]  21.35;  Silver:  Bradley Tandy [South Africa] 21.81;  Bronze: Cameron McEvoy [Australia]  21.92.  Australia’s James Magnussen finished 6th in 22.05, and James Roberts, 7th in 22.1.

Women’s 50 metre Backstroke Final:  [WR: 27.06]

GOLD: Emily Seebolm [Australia] 27.78];  Silver:  Kylie Masse [Canada] 27.82;  Bronze:  Georgia Davies [Wales]  27.90.Australia’s Holly Barratt finished 4th in 27.96.  This was Emily’s 14th medal in Commonwealth Games competitions, and her win was in fact Australia’s 300th Commonwealth Gold medal in swimming.

Men’s 200 metre Individual Medley Final.  [WR: 1.54.00]

GOLD:  Mitch Larkin [Australia]  1.57.67 [GR];  Silver: Duncan Scott [Scotland]  1.57.86;  Bronze: Clyde Lewis [Australia] 1.58.18.  Description of Mitch Larkin, at end of swimming program – ‘Larkin’s high five: presented himself as ‘Superman’ of the pool by winning a remarkable five gold medals from five events’.

Women’s S8 [Para] 50 metre Freestyle Final  [WR: 29.73]

GOLD:  Lakeisha Patterson [Australia]  30.14; Silver:  Morgan Bird [Canada]  32.06;  Bronze: Abigail Tripp [Canada]  32.49.  Australia’s Tiffany Thomas-Kane finished 4th in 35.40.

Men’s S9 [Para] 100 metres Backstroke Final [WR: 1.01.75]

GOLD: Brendan Hall [Australia]  1.04.73;  Silver: Timothy Hodge [Australia] 1.04.99; Bronze: Logan Powell [Australia] 1.05.29.

With the inclusion of the Para athletes in the overall Games competition, I found it often quite disturbing, whilst at the same time inspiring, to learn of the background to the specific disabilities faced by these athletes, and of the huge sacrifice, courage and dedication thy have endured and followed, in order to reach the athletic and sporting heights thy have achieved, and in the main, their general attitude to life. Kurt Fearnley demonstrated that in a television interview yesterday, following his heat of the 1500 wheelchair race at the athletics track –  “Life’s great, isn’t it”.  Sadly, so many of those stories were as a consequence of car accidents, or accidents associated with their sport originally.

Men’s 1500 metre Freestyle Final  [WR:  14.31.02]  –  always a popular vent, in which Australia has featured many champion swimmers at both Olympic and Commonwealth Games level. Tonight was no exception, although the winner was not the expected Australian swimmer in this case. At the Commonwealth level, Australia have won 15 of the Gold medals held over the Games’ history.  The newspaper headline next morning –  “Jack dethrones Mack as new 1500m king”.

GOLD:  Jack McLoughlin [Australia]  14.47.09;  Silver:  Daniel Jervis [Wales] 14.48.67;  Bronze:  Mack Horton [Australia, the anticipated winner] 14.51.05.

Women’s 4 x 100 metre Medley Relay Final  [WR: 3.51.55]  –  Australia have won this event on the last 8 occasions.

GOLD: AUSTRALIA  [3.54.36: GR] [in order of swim legs –  Emily Seebolm, Georgia Bohl,  Emma McKeon, and Bronte Campbell – selected ahead of her more successful sister, and a good move, a brilliant swim from behind in the freestyle leg, to get up and  win the vent for the Aussies];    Silver: Canada  [3.55.10], and Bronze:  Wales  [4.00.75]. The medal win for Emily Seebolm, meant she has won 15 medals [of all colours] at Commonwealth Games events, equalling the total won by the wonderful Susie O’Neill during her era of competition.

Men’s 4 x 100 metres Medley Relay Final: [WR: 3.27.28]

GOLD: AUSTRALIA  [3.31.04 GR] [team, in order of swimming –  Mitch Larkin, Jake Packard, Grant Irvine and Kyle Chalmers –  again, the latter had to dig deep, and come from behind his English opponent, in order to snatch victory right at the end];   Silver: England [3.31.13]; Bronze: South Africa [3.34.79].

And so ended the swimming program –   Australia’s results:  28 Gold; 21 Silver; 24 Bronze [a total of 73 swimming medals].

 

 

 

Athletics

The Decathlon event continued today with the final five events

Event 6: 110 metre Hurdles: conducted over 2 heats. The fastest time of the 2 heats was Damian Warner [Canada] in 13.89 [989 pts].  Australia’s Cedric Dubler, came 2nd in that heat in 14.24 [944 pts] while Kyle Cranston finished 5th in 15.12 [835 pts]

Event 7: Discus Throw: with only 10 competitors remaining, this was held as the one group. Best throw was Lindon Victor [Grenada] with 15.32 [919 pts]. The two Australians, not a strong event for them  –  Kyle Cranston finished 7th [730 pts] and Cedric Dubler, 9th [677 pts].

Event 8: Pole Vault:  Cedric Dubler finished on top in Group A with a vault of 5.00 [910 pts], while Kyle Cranston finished Kyle Cranston finished in 2nd place in Group B, with a vault of 4.40 [731 pts]. Dubler had the best result in that competition.

Event 9:Javellin Throw  By this stage, the early leader, the Canadian, Damian Warner had withdrawn from the overall event.   The Javelin saw 1st place go to Lindon Victor [Grenada] with a throw of 71.10 [906 pts]. Australia’s Kyle Cranston finished  3rd with 62.36 [773 pts], and Cedric Dubler, 7th with 54.63 [657 pts]. At this stage there were 8 competitors remaining in the competition from the original 12 starters.

Event 10 [final]:  1500 metres…. The final event of the Decathlon, saw Cedric Dubler a likely medallist. All competitors ran in the one ‘heat’ of the 1500 metres. The result of that race  –  1st: Ben Gregory [Wales] 4.30.57 [741 pts]; 2nd: Gilbert Koech [Kenya] 4.31.82 [733 pts]; and 3rd: Kyle Cranston [Australia] 4.31.91 [732 pts]; 4th: Cedric Dubler [Australia] 4.57.03 [577 pts].

The overall Decathlon result after the completion of the 10 events: [WR: 9045 pts]

GOLD: Lindon Victor [Grenada]  8303 points;

Silver: Pierce LePage [Canada]  8171 points;

Bronze.  Cedric Dubler [Australia]  7983 points.  ….Australia’s Kyle Cranston finished 5th overall with 7734 points.

 

Men’s 800 metres Heats {WR: 1.40.91

Consisted of three heats – in Heat 1,  the Kenyan, Wycliffe Kinyamal won in 1.45.56, with Australia’s Joseph Deng, 3rd in 1.45.72.   Australia’s Luke Mathews finished 2nd in a time of 1.46.53, behind the heat winner, Mijel Amos of Botswana [1.45.12].  The 3rd heat was the slowest of the three – Kenya’s Jonathan Kitilit recording 1.47.27, while ]

]Australia’s Joshua Ralph finished 3rd in 1.47. Deng and Mathews qualified for Thursday’s final.

Men’s 400 metres Hurdles, Heats  [WR:46.78]

Three heats were run today, with the final to be run on Thursday.

Australia’s Ian Dewhurst, ran 3rd in Heat 3 in a time of 49.84. The fastest qualifier was Kyron McMaster [Ivory Coast] on 48.78. Dewhurst missed out on qualifying for the final.

Men’s Long Jump, Qualifying Round.  [WR: 8.95 and GR: 8.30]

The best jump in Group A was by Ruswahl Samaai [South Africa] with a jump of 8.06. Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre jumped 7.76 in 6th position. In Group B, Australia’s Henry Frayne jumped a personal best and created a new Games record of 8.34 metres, to win that group. Chris Mitrevski [Australia] finished in 6th place with 7.82. All three Australians qualified for the final to be held on Wednesday.

Women’s 400 metres Hurdles heats  [WR: 52.34]

This event had just the two heats –   Lauren Wells [Australia] ran 5th in Heat 2, in 53.73, but did not qualify for Thursday final. The fastest time was recorded by Janieve Russell [Jamaica] in 54.01.  The existing Games Records is held by Australia’s Jana Pittman [53.82 in Melbourne, 2006].

Women’s 200 Metres, Round 1: Heats   [WR:  21.34]

There were five heats, with three Australian competitors.   In Heat 2, Maddie Coates finished 3rd in 23.51; in Heat 3, the young Riley Day finished 3rd in 23.71; and in Heat 5, Larissa Pasternsatsky finished 5th in 23.55. The fastest time for the five heats was recorded by Canada’s Crystal in 22.72 [Heat 1].  All three Australian girls qualified to advance to the semi-final stage tomorrow.

Men’s 200 metres, Round 1, Heats  [WR: 19.19]

There were nine heats to be run in this event, which concluded the ‘morning’ session of the athletics program. Australia’s only starter in the event was  Alex Hartman who finished 2nd in the 5th heat, in a time of20.66, which qualified him in 6th for Wednesday’s final. The fastest time of the 9 heats was run by the winner of that heat – Jereem Richards of Trinidad & Tobago, in 20.33 seconds.

The evening program of the athletics included a number of finals, some of which were conducted in driving rain, as a mini-rain storm hit the Gold Coast area during the evening.

Women’s Triple Jump Final   [WR: 15.50]

GOLD:  Kimberley Williams [Jamaica] 14.64;   Silver:  Shanieka Ricketts [Jamaica]  14.52;  Bronze: Thea Lafono [Dominica]  13.92.. There were no Australians in this final, oddly an event that we have featured a great deal in over the years unfortunately.

Men’s 110 Metres Hurdle Final  [WR: 12.80]  :

GOLD:  Ronald Levy [Jamaica]  13.19;  Silver:  Hansle Parchment [Jamaica] 13.22;  Bronze: Nicholas Hough [Australia] 13.38 [PB]. This was a great run by Gough to grab the Bronze by .04 of a second, even if the media next day gave it little recognition.

Women’s T54 [Para] 1500 Metres Final

The first of two very popular events this evening, the Wheelchair 1500 metre races, with the Men’s event featuring Australia’s popular veteran, Kurt Fearnley, preceded by a wonderful Quinella by the Australian girls in the women’s event. GOLD: Madison De Rozario [Australia]  3.34.06; Silver: Angela Ballard [Australia, the defending champion] 3.36.85; Bronze: Diane Roy [Canada] 3.36.97.  Australia’s Eliza Ault-Connell finished in 5th position [3.38.88]. The win for De Rozario was a bit of personal retribution – she flew to the 2014 Glasgow Games and had to withdraw from her event with deep vein thrombosis, needing three days in hospital.

Men’s T54 [Para] 1500 Metres Final

He was the home town favourite, racing for the last time on the track after a highly successful career, from his wheelchair, but in the end, he was unable to chase down  the Canadian winner in this race, by 17 seconds, although in the closing stages, Kurt Fearnley gave it a red hot shot –‘gave his all’ he said. IN his words “The Commonwealth Games is a special event I hold close to my heart. I’ve being in the privileged position over the years as an ambassador to tell my story….” And what an ambassador he has been, to para athletes, and to the sporting fraternity in general. After tonight’s race, he urged all Australians to be more open to providing opportunities for disabled people. He will have his last international race representing Australia in the weekend’s Para Marathon.

GOLD:  Alexandre Dupont [Canada] 3.11.75; Silver: Kurt Fearnley [Australia]  3.11.92; Bronze:  Jake Lappin [Australia] 3.12.60 [the heir apparent to Kurt]. Australia’s young Sam Rizzo finished 6th in 3.14.16

Women’s Hammer Throw Final [WR: 82.98]

A wonderful effort by the Australian girls in the final, picking up the two minor medals. Sydney University student, Alexandra Hulley thrived in her senior debut, to pick up the Silver medal, with the BNronze going to team-mate, Lara Nielsen…………GOLD: Julia Ratcliffe [New Zealand] 69.94;  Alexandra Hulley [Australia]  68.20;  Bronze:  Lara Mielsen [Australia] 65.03. Australia’s Danielle McConnell finished 8th with a throw of 59.60. Much of this event was conducted in heavy rain.

Women’s 400 metres Semi-finals  [WR: 47.60]

We had 5 heats of this event, with three Australian girls running. The fastest time was recorded in Heat 2 by Jamaica’s Stephenie McPherson, in 50.80. The Australian results were – Heat 3: Bendera Oboya, 6th in 55.62; Heat 4: Anneliese Rubie, 1st in 52.32, and in Heat 5,  Mitchell Morgan was 5th in 52.81. Both Rubie and Morgan qualified for Wednesday’s semi-finals.

Men’s 400 Metres Final  [WR: 43.03]

GOLD:  Isaac Makwala [Botswana]  44.35; Silver: Baboloki Thebeb [Botswana]  45.09;  Bronze:  Javon Francis [Jamaica] 45.11.  Australia’s Steven Solomon finished 7th in 45.64.

Women’s 1500 Metres Final  [WR: 3.50.07]

Another of this writer’s favourite track events. South Africa’s controversial track star, Caster Semenya sealed the first of her planned Games’ Gold Medals by winning this event, charging home to win by 15 metres tonight [although the 800 metres is her preferred event and has given her the most success]. There was a 10 minute delay before the start of this race, with the runners at the starting line, with the technical equipment having been affected by the rain. Semenya’s early career controversy related to queries over her sexuality, however she was warmly welcomed on track by the Australian crowd,  and made a point of congratulating and embracing all her opponents [and vice versa] after the race………………GOLD:  Caster Semenya [South Africa] 4.00.71 [GR];  Silver: Beatrice Chepkoech [Kenya] 4.03.09];  Bronze: Melissa Courtney [Wales]  4.03.44. Australia’s Linden Hall, who led the field fort much of the race but was run down in the final straight, finished a credible 4th in 4.03.67, while Georgia Griffith enhanced her reputation with a 5th place and personal best time of 4.04.17.  Our third runner, Zoe Buckman finished in 12th place in 4.06.76. There were 14 starters in the final.

A wonderful night of athletics!!

 

Badminton

We had a big program of Singles and Doubles matches played today, and the results in which Australia was involved are detailed hereunder.

Men’s Singles Round of 64:  Anthony Joe [Australia] defeated Daniel Sam [Ghana]  2-0;

Women’s Singles Round of 64:  Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen [Australia] defeated Eyram Migbodzi [Ghana]  2-0;

Men’s Doubles, Round of 32: Australia defeated Pakistan 2-0 [21-12, 21-17],  and England defeated Australia 2-0 [21-10,21-18].

 

Basketball

There were four qualifying matches today, Australian teams had the day off.

Men qualifying Final:  Canada defeated England 97-79;    Scotland defeated Nigeria 66-61;

Women’s qualifying Final:  New Zealand defeated Mozambique 79-63;   England defeated Jamaica 62-40.

 

Beach Volleyball

Today, we saw the quarter-final matches being played in this competition, and results were as follows.

Men’s Quarter-finals:  Canada defeated Cyprus 2-0; England defeated Scotland 2-0;  New Zealand defeated Trinidad & Tobago 2-0;   Australia defeated Sierra Leone 2-0 [21-12, 21-14]

Women’s Quarter-finals:  Vanuatu defeated England 2-1; Australia defeated Rwanda  2-0 [21-9,21-8]; Cyprus defeated New Zealand 2-0;  Canada defeated Scotland 2-0.

 

Boxing

We had five Australians featuring in Boxing Quarter-final bouts today, of whom two made it through to the medal stages.

Men’s +91 kg Quarter-final 3:  Frazer Clarke [England defeated Toese Vou Stutu [Australia] 5-0;

Men’s 69 kg Quarter-final 3:  Manoj Kumar [India] defeated Terry Nickolas [Australia] 4-1;

Men’s 91 kg Quarter-final 2:  Jason Whateley [Australia] defeated Damien Sullivan [Northern Ireland] 4-1;

Men’s 64 kg Quarter-final 4: Luke McCormack [England] defeated Liam Wilson [Australia] 5-0;

And finally, my highlight of the boxing day,

Women’s 57 kg Quarter-final 3:  Skye Nicholson [Australia] defeated Christelle Aurore Ndiang [Cameroon] 5-0  –  Skye is the youingersister of former Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games boxer, Jamie Nicholson, who along with his brother, was killed in a car accident in 1994, the year before Skye was born. His career and her family’s long-time involvement in the sport were the inspiration for her to take it up.

 

 

Cycling, Road events

Today, the Men’s and Women’s Time Trials were held, and as with day One of the competition, it was a duel success for our Australian cyclists.  My highlight was Cameron Myer’s success in the Men’s event  –  he has been a wonderful competitor for many years now, and competes in a variety of events throughout the world, including this week’s track events.  From Reece Homfray [Herald Sun] “After missing the medals in the Points race on Sunday night, Meyer refocused and stormed to gold on the road at Currumbin…[he] crushed the field that had started before him on the 38.5 km course……..It was Meyer’s fourth Commonwealth Games Gold Medal after he won three on the track in Delhi in 2010”..  And we should not overlook the courageous ride by Australia’s Katrin Garfoot in the Women’s event. Full results were as follows.

Men’s Individual Time Trial.

GOLD: Cameron Myer [Australia] 48.13.04; Silver: Harry Tanfield [England]  48.43.30;  Bronze: Hamish Bond [New Zealand] 48.45.45. Australia’s Callum Scotson finished 4th in 49.35.65.  There were 54 starters, of whom only one rider failed to complete the course.

Women’s Individual Time Trial;

GOLD:  Gatrin Garfoot [Australia] 35.08.09;  Silver: Linda Villumsen [New Zealand] 36.03.01; Bronze:  Hayley Simmonds [England] 36.22.09.  Katrin was the only Australian amongst the 19 competitors in this race, held over the shorter distance to the Men’s event.

 

Hockey

Men Pool A: Australia defeated Canada 4-0; New Zealand defeated Scotland 5-2;

Men: Pool B:  India defeated Malaysia 2-1; England defeated Wales 3-2;

Women Pool A:  India defeated South Africa 1-0;

Women Pool B: Australia defeated Scotland 2-0

 

Lawn Bowls

It was another huge day on the bowling greens with a multitude of matches in progress. Australian results were as follows.

Women’s Pairs, Round 2: Australia defeated Niue  35-11

Men’s Singles Round 3: Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Phillip Jones [Norfolk Island] 21-18;

Women’s Pairs, Round 3: Australia defeated Malta 18-14;

Men’s Singles Round 4:  Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Petrus Breitenbarh [South Africa] 21-6;

Mixed B2/B3 [Para] Pairs Semi-final: Australia defeatd Scotland 14-8;

Women’s Triples Round 3: Australia defeated India 20-11; Round 4: Australia defeated Canada 20-13;

Men’s Singles Round 5: Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Daniel Salmon [Wales] 21-16

 

Netball

No Australian teams played today. Match results were:

Women Pool A:  Northern Ireland defeated Barbados 49-39;  South Africa defeated Fiji 92-28;

Women Pool B:  Uganda defeated Wales 76-40;  Malawi defeated Scotland 51-50  – the giant killers continue on their way after a rare win over New Zealand a couple of days ago, although Scotland had two opportunities in the closing seconds from fouls to equal the score, and a last gasp throw for goal, each chance missed to give Malawi the narrow win.

 

Para Powerlifting

The Para Power Lifting competition took place today, and as anticipated, the four medal events were dominated by the Nigerians.

Men’s Lightweight Final: GOLD: Roland Ezuruike [Nigeria]; Silver: Paul Kehinde [Nigeria];  Bronze:  Ali Jawad [England];

Women’s Lightweight Final:  GOLD: Esther Oyema [Nigeria] ;Lucy Ejike [Nigeria];  Bronze: Zoe Newson [England]

Women’s Heavyweight Final:  GOLD: Ndidi Nwosu [Nigeria];  Silver:  Louise Sugde3n [England]. No Bronze awarded.

Men’s Heavyweight Final:  GOLD: Abdulazeez Ibrahim [Nigrria];  Silver:: Yee Khia Jong [Malaysia]; Bronze: Sachin Chaudhary [India]

 

Shooting

Another Silver medal success for the Australian shooting team today, amongst the three finals decided.

Queen’s Prize: Pairs Finals [Day 2]:  GOLD: England [581-61V];  Silver: Wales [582-58V];  Bronze: Scotland [582-49V].  The Australian Pair of Jim Bailey & Ben Emms finished [580.54V]

Men’s 50 metre Rifle Prone Final:  GOLD:  David Phelps [Wales]  248.8;  Silver: Neil Stirton [Scotland] 247.7;  Bronze:  Kenneth Parr [England]  226.6.  Australia’s James Daly finished 6th, with 161.2.

Women’s 25 metre Pistol Final:  GOLD: Heena Sidhu [India] 38, GR;  Silver:  Elena Galiabovittch [Australia] 35; Bronze:  Alia Sazana Azahari [Malaysia] 26.  Australia’s Lalita Yauhleuskaya finished in 8th position [7]

 

Squash

Round matches in doubles competitions predominated throughout today’s competition.

Men’s Doubles, Pool E:  Australia defeated Cayman Islands 2-0;

Men’s Doubles, Pool A: Australia defeated Fiji  2-0;  Pool F: Australia defeated Malaysia 2-0;

Women’s Doubles, Pool D:  Australia defeated Cayman Islands 2-0; Australia defeated Canada 2-1;

Mixed Doubles, Pool D: Australia defeated Guyana  2-0;

 

Table Tennis

Another day of Singles early round matches in the Table Tennis competition.  A look at the Australian results, few among many.

Women’s TT5-10[Para] Singles, Group 2: Faith Obazuaye [Nigeria] defeated Andrea McDonnell [Australia]   3-0;

Men’s TT6-10 [Para] Singles Group 2: Ross Wilson [England] defeated Barak Mizrachi [Australia]  3-0;

Women’s TT6-10 [Para] Singles, Group 1: Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Maitreyee Sarkar [India] 3-0;

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast , Part 5:  11-12 April

Day 7 of competition, Wednesday, 11th April

 

Things are moving along quickly at the Gold Coast [although I guess anyone not interested in sport, or the Games specially, might not agree  J  – so be it!!]. However we did have another day of world-class competition, which includes the start of the  Rhythmic Gymnastics [not exactly my preferred choice of viewing, but seems to be popular with TV audiences], while  the Diving competition started today with three Gold Medals to be contested including the women’s Synchronised 3 metre Springboard and Synchronised 10m Platform, plus the men’s 1m Springboard. In the 10m event, Melbourne 2006 medallists, Australia’s Melissa Wu and Canada’s Meaghan Benefeito, return to the platform to dive for another Games medal.

Beach Volleyball enters the semi-final stage, the Boxing action continued and Hockey and Netball teams played their final preliminary round matches. Meanwhile, the Carrara Stadium [normally the home of the Gold Coast AFL football team]  hosted a blockbuster evening of medal action, with Finals  including the men’s high jump, long jump, and F38 shot put, as well as the women’s T35 100m,  together with the regular 400m, 3000m steeplechase and javelin throw  Meanwhile, with rivalries, upsets and close matches galore, Hockey has been a highlight of the Games and today, it was the teams’ last chances to qualify for the classification and semi-final matches.

And today, we see the Semi-Final matches in  Beach Volleyball.

 

I’m going to begin today’s report, by looking at the Shooting competition.  Whilst waiting for a tradie to turn up this morning, I had the opportunity to watch a complete event, without any breaks in the telecast [a rare event, which prompted the following brief comment on my Face Book status.

“Not the mass excitement of some more popular events,but great to watch a Gold winning shooter. Daniel Repacholi. In a full uninterrupted coverage of the event , no adverts, on channel 72, wouldn’t have happened on the main 7 channel, would have had at least 3 ad breaks at a minimum. My constant frustration with that mob and why I watch very little on the 7 network!! Great coverage, and learning curve of a very interesting shooting event!!”

So that’s where we start.

 

Shooting

We had three Medal events decided today, and the one that gave the writer the most pleasure was Daniel Repacholi’s event, the 2nd on th day’s program.  He had previously won two Gold Medals – at Melbourne in 2006, and in Glasgow in 2014, and had indicated he would retire from competition after these Games. His event, the Men’s 50m Pistol. Daniel began slowly, 3rd after the first 5 shots, dropped to 5th, after 10 shots, and then as the elimination process began, his shooting improved considerably as he wavered between 1st and 2nd position, until by the stage that the three medallists  had been determined, barring a disaster, it was clear our man would win

Men’s 50m Pistol Final:

GOLD: Daniel Repocholi [Australia] 227.2; Silver:  Shakil Ahmed [Bangladesh]  220.5;  Bronze: Om Mitharval [India]  201.10.  Australia’s Bruce Quick finished 11th at the Qualification stage.

Women’s Double Trap Finals  –  more success for Australia, with a Silver medal

GOLD:  Shreyasi Singh [India] 96+2;  Silver: Emma Cox [Australia]  96+1;  Bronze:  Linda Pearson [Scotland] 87.  Australia’s Gaye Shale finished in 7th position with a score of 80.

Men’s Double Trap Finals  –  Australia’s James Willett competing in this competition.

GOLD: David McMath [Scotland]  74;  Silver:  Tim Kneale [Isle of Man] 70;  Bronze: Ankur Mittal [India] 53.Australia’s Tim Willtt finished 6th with a score of 23.

Queen’s Prize: Individual, Day 1:

After Day 1 [of 2] in this event, Australia’s Jim Bailey leads the field of 33 competitors, with Ben Emms of Australia sitting in 5th position,

 

Athletics

Just the evening session of athletics today, and a smorgasbord of events, and a nice collection of medals for Australia, something the athletics team doesn’t often experience  – tonight, four Gold, three Silver and on Bronze, no cause for complaint [almost at the swimming level], just a pity the coverage had to be on the main Seven network, constant interruptions [as always] test my blood pressure levels!!

Women’s Long Jump, Qualifying  [WR: 7.52]

We had the three girls in these qualifying groups, and they would all succeed in progressing to the final. The best qualifying jump of the night went to England’s Shara Proctor [6.89]. The three Australians finished in the following order.  Brooke Stratton, 3rd [6.73], Lauren Wells 6th [3.46], and Naa Anang, 7th [6.46]. The final will be Thursday night.

 

Women’s Javelin Throw Final   [WR: 72.28]

A wonderful outcome for Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell, in hr 4th attempt at a Commonwealth Games medal –  her last three tries saw her reach 6th, 5th and 4th, persistence over the years, in an event that Australia have won 9 of the 19 holdings of the Javelin throw. Australia had two competitors in the final,  and they gained two of the medals.

GOLD: Kathryn Mitchell [Australia] 68.92 [a Games record, the longest ever  javelin throw in Australia, which she managed in her first attempt].  Silver:  Kelsey-Lee Roberts [Australia]  63.89; Bronze:  Sunette Viljoen [South Africa] 62.08.

Women’s 3,000 Metres Steeplechase Final  [WR: 8.52.78]

This event included two Australians, and three Kenyans in the starting list of 10 runners –  Genevieve Lacaze [who was in with an outside chance of a medal], and Victoria Mitchell [only a short time out of medical and injury concerns]. Surprisingly, the Kenyans were outrun in the end, with the Jamaican competitor coming over the top of them in the closing stages, seemingly with little effort.

GOLD: Aisha Praught [Jamaica]  9.21.00;  Silver:  Celliphine Chepteek Chespol [Kenya]  9.22.61;  Bronze: Purity Cherotich Kirui [Kenya] 9.25.74. Genevieve Legaze finished 5th in 9.42.69, and Victoria Mitchell was 9th in 10.12.59 [a game effort by the latter under the circumstances of her lad up to the Games].

Men’s High Jump Final   [WR: 2.45]

This event for Australia could be described as the highlight of the night, as it was perhaps the least expected to achieve the ultimate success. We had just the one competitor –  Brandon Starc, who is in fact the brother of present day Australian Test Cricketer, Mitchell Starc. His performance tonight should go a way to reversing the ‘star’ status of the two brothers. He finished 8th in the Glasgow Games [2014] and 15th in the Rio Olympic Games. He put those results behind him tonight.

GOLD:  Brandon Starc [Australia] 2.32;  Silver: Jamal Wilson [Bahamas] 2.30;  Bronze:  Django Lovett [Canada]  2.30.  Australia’s Joel Baden finished in 8th place in the Group B qualifying stage of the event [2.15]

Women’s 200 Metres Semi-finals [WR:  21.34]

We had three semi-finals tonight, with three young Aussie girls running for glory. The first two place getters in each race plus the next two fastest times would progress to the final. The fastest time of the three semi-finals was run by Shericka Jackson [Jamaica] in 22.28 in Semi-final 1. That event saw Australia’s Maddie Coates finish in 4th position in 23.43. The 2nd Semi-final featured Australia’s [not yet 18 years old] Riley Day, who ran a promising race, finishing 4th in 23.24 secs [0.01 secs behind the 3rd placegetter  –  in Day’s words later “One hundredth of a second…it’s a frickin’ kicker…a punch in the guts’ as she missed out on the final by a whisker, after drawing the strongest semi-final]. The winning time in that race was 22.48, and in the 3rd semi-final the best time was 22.87, which also featured Australia’s Larissa Pasternatsky, who finished 5th in 23.64. With only the top 8 going into the final, our girls all missed out –  Riley Day in 0th position, 0.01 of a second outside of the 8th position,  Maddie Coates in 12th position, and Larissa Pasternatsky, in 16th position overall.

Men’s Long Jump Final  [WR: 8.95]

The final field of 12 starters included the three Australians.  In his qualifying jump earlier in the week, Henry Frayne broke the existing Games Record, so came into this event with good prospects. He was however, up against the existing World Champion, but late in the competition, Frayne had taken the lead with a jump of 2.33.   However, the South African champion exceeded that with an 8.35, and then a final Gold winning jump of 8.41 which Frayne was unable to reach. This was the longest ever jump in Commonwealth Games competition.

GOLD: Luvo Manyonga [South Africa]  8.41 [new GR];  Silver: Henry Frayne [Australia]8.33; Bronze: Ruswahl Samaai [South Africa] 8.22.  Australia’s Chris Mitrevski finished in  6th position [7.90], and Fabrice Lapierre was 12th [7.56].

Men’s F38 [Para] Shot Put Final

We saw another Quinella is this event, with the three Australians finishing in the first four places

GOLD:  Cameron Crombie [Australia] 15.74; Silver: Marty Jackson [Australia] 13.74; Bronze: Reinhardt Hamman [South Africa] 13.15.  Australia’s Jordan Sawyer finished 4th on 12.40.

Men’s 200 Metres Semi-finals  [WR: 19.19]

The fastest time in the three semi-finals was gained by Aaron Brown [Canada] in 20.18. Australia’s Alex Hartman, finished 3rd in the 2nd semi-final in a time of 20.76. Unfortunately, his time was 12th in the overall result, and he did not qualify for tomorrow’s final.

Women’s T35 [Para] 100 Metres Final

This race saw two more medals to the Australian team including the current World Champion and record holder, Isis Holt [described as the ‘bolt’] just 16 years old  – and she did indeed ‘bolt’ away from the rest of the field to win by over a second.

GOLD: Isis Bolt [Australia]  13.58; Silver:  Maria Lyle [Scotland] 15.14;  Bronze:  Brianna Coop [Australia]  15.63.  In 4th place was Australia’s Carly Salmon, in 16.39.

Women’s 400 Metres Final  [WR: 47.60]

The final vent of the evening, included Australia’s Anneliese Rubie, who had performed well in winning her heat, followed by a third placing in her semi-final. However, despite a brave effort tonight, she was outclassed in the final.

GOLD: Amantle Montsho [Botswana] 50.15;  Silver: Anastasia Le-Roy [Jamaica] 50.57;  Bronze:  Stephenie McPherson [Jamaica] 50.93.  Anneliese finished in 7th position in 52.03.

 

Badminton

Australian results in the Round of 32 matches today were:

Men’s Singles: Joe Anthony [Australia] defeated Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti [Pakistan] 2-0 [22-20, 21-18];

Women’s Doubles:  Singapore defeated Australia 25-1  [22-20, 16-21, 21-18]

Women’s Singles:  HsuanYu Wendy Chen [Australia] defeated Zoe Morris [Falkland Islands] 2-0  [21-3,21-2]

Mixed Doubles: Australia defeated Jamaica 2-0  [ 21-17,21-4 ] [Sawan Serasinghe & Styana Mapasa];

 

Beach Volleyball

Men’s Semi-finals: Australia defeated England 2-0  [21-12, 21-16];   Canada defeated New Zealand 2-0;.

Women’s Semi-finals:  Canada defeated Cyprus 2-0;   Australia defeated Vanuatu 2-1  [ 21-19, 16-21, 15-9] [Artachodel Solar & Clancy].  Our women volleyballers survived a major scare in this last match, with the expected underdogs taking the Australians for a third set for the first time in these Games. Despite that, the Australians felt good about their upcoming Gold Medal match against Canada – ‘We know our best can beat anyone, Cabada are a very experienced team, we’re a new team, and we want to get to where they are….Australia loves an underdog”.

 

Boxing

The boxing competition is getting close to the pointy end of the various categories. We had four Australians fighting today for three winners, all of whom will earn a medal of some colour.

Women’s 60 kg Quarter-Final 1:  Anja Stridesman [Australia] defeated Sarita Devi [India]  5-0;

Women’s 69 kg Semi-Final: Rose Eccles [Wales] defeated Kaye Scott [Australia] 4-1;

Men’s 60kg Quarter-Final 3:  Harry Garside [Australia] defeated Nathaniel Collins [Scotland] 5-0;

Men’s 81 kg Quarter-Final 2: Clay Waterman [Australia] defeated Mbachi Kaonga [Zambia] 4-1. This win by Waterman prompted, according to reports, a ‘meltdown’ by his beaten opponent, who launched a verbal attack against the judges of hometown bias, convinced he had won the fight. From memory this kind of accusation is not uncommon in international boxing tournaments. Waterman’s reaction –  ‘I don’t know how you can call it bulls…when he pretty much ran away the whole fight”.

 

Diving Competition

The first day of Diving competition produced some exciting results for our Australian divers.

Women’s Synchronised 3m Springboard Final

GOLD:  Australia [Esther Qin & Georgia Sheehan] 284.10;   Silver:  England  276.9;    Bronze:  Malaysia  264.9. The Australian pair of Maddison Keeney & Anabelle Smith finished 7th [224.31]. Sheehan and Esther were regarded as the country’s second team, , but hit the lead with their final dive after fellow Australians Keeney and Smith registered a ‘no dive’ when Keeney lost her bearings during a twisting move and landed on her back.

Men’s 1m Springboard Final

Three Australians qualified through to the Final of 12 starters –  Matthew Carter [5th], James Connor [6th] and Kurtis Mathews [12th]

GOLD: Jack Laugher [England] 438 pts; Silver:  James Connor [Australia]  412.45 pts;  Bronze: James Heatly [Scotland]  399.25 pts. Australia’s Matthew Carter, finished 8th [36.30 pts], and Kurtis Mathews, was 9th with 367.60 pts.

Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final

We had two Australian pairs in the final, but they were unable to get into the medals.

GOLD: Malaysia  [328.08];  Silver: Canada [312.12]; Bronze: Malaysia [308.16]. The Australian duo of Teju Williamson and Melissa Wu finished in 4th position, with 307.80 pts, and Annarose Keating & Brittany O’Brien, finished 6th with 273.15 pts.  Williamson had been called into the team at the last minute, after the shock retirement, due to a medical warning, of Wu’s partner, Taneka Kovchenko

 

Hockey

Men: Pool A: Australia defeated New Zealand 2-14;   South Africa defeated Canada 2-0;;

Men: Pool B:  Malaysia drew with  Pakistan 1-1;   India defeated England 4-3;

Women: Pool A:  Malaysia defeated Wales 1-0;

Women: Pool B: Canada defeated Ghana 5-1;

 

Lawn Bowls

The highlight of today’s extensive bowls competition, was a Gold Medal to the Para Mixed B2/B3 team

Mixed B2/B3 [Para] Pairs

GOLD Medal:  Australia defeated South Africa 12-9 [Australia: Lynne Seymour, Bob Seymour, Jake Fehlberg, & Grant Fehlberg]; Bronze Medal:  Wales defeated Scotland 13-12;

Women’s Pairs, Round 4: Australia defeated PNG 29-7; Round 5:  Australia defeated England:20-14;

Open B6/B7/B8/ [Para] Triples Semi-Final: Australia defeated South Africa 15-7;

Women’s Triples, Round 5: Australia defeated Fiji 24-9;  Quarter-Final:  Australia defeated Northern Island 30-5;

Men’s Fours, Round 3: India defeated Australia 19-15;

Men’s Fours, Round 4: Australia defeated Norfolk Island 24-10;

 

Netball

Today’s games.

Women Pool A: Australia defeated Jamaica 72-51; South Africa defeated Barbados 85-25;  Northern Ireland defeated Fiji 73-46;

Women Pool B:  England defeated New Zealand 54-45;   Uganda defeated Scotland 57-37;  Malawi defeated  Wales 68-53;

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Tam Final and Individual Qualification Subdicision 2, Rotation 4

The Australian girls in Subdivision 2 were   – Enid Sung, Danielle Prince [Australia’s first female gymnast to compete in three Commonwealth Games], and Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva [16 year-old Melbourne schoolgirl]. They combined to gain a Bronze Medal.

GOLD: Cyprus  [130.625]; Silver: Malaysia [127.95]; Bronze: Australia [120.80].

Our girl’s individual overall scores were: Enid Sung  7th [47.450], Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva 8th [47.450] and Danielle Prince 10th  [47.200]

 

Squash

Women’s Doubles Pool A: New Zealand defeated Australia 2-0 [11-8, 11-6] [Sarah Cardwell & Christine Nunn];  Malaysia defeated Australia [Sarah Cardwell & Christine Nunn] 2-1 [10-11, 11-6, 11-5];

Men’s Doubles, Pool E:  Australia defeated Jamaica 2-0  [11-7,  11-5]  [Zac Alexander & David Palmer];

Mixed Doubles, Pool D: Australia defeated Pakistan  2-0 [ 11-3,  1-6]  [Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley]

Mixed Doubles, Pool F:  Australia [Rachel Grinham & Tyan Cuskelly] defeated Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 [11-0, 11-4];

Women’s Doubles, Pool D:  Australia [Donna Urquhart & Rachel Grinham] defeated Guyana 2-0 [11-2,11-2];

Men’s Doubles, Pool A:  Australia [Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley] defeated Trinidasd & Tobago 2-0  [11-0, 11-2];

 

Table Tennis

Australian results in today’s Table Tennis competition were as follows.

Mixed Doubles, Round of 64: Australia [David Powell & Miao Miao] defeated Uganda 2-0 [11-6,11-4,11-6];

Women’s TT6-10 [Para] Singles Group 1: Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Felicity Pickard [England] 3-0 [11-6,11-2,11-1];

Men’s TT6-10[Para] Group 2: Barak Mizrachi [Australia defeatedTemitope Ogunsanya [Nigeria] 3-0[11-9,11-4,11-4];

Men’s Doubles, Round of 32: Singapore defeated Australia [David Powell & Kane Townshend]  3-0 [11-3,11-8,11-7]  Australia [Hu Heming & Yan Xin] defeated Barbados 3-0 [11-6,11-6,11-6];

Mixed Doubles Round of 32:  Australia [Yan Xin & Jian Fang Lay] defeated Ghana 3-0 [11-2,11-1,11-3]; Australia [Hu Heming & Melissa Tapper] defeated Vanuatu 3-0 [11-5,11-9,11-9];  Australia [Trent Carter & Tracey Feng] defeated Guyana 3-0 [11-4,11-8,11-9];

Women’s Singles, Round of 32: Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Karen Lyne [Malaysia] 4-1 [13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8];  Tracey Feng [Australia] defeated Chloe Thomas [Wales] 4-0 [11-6,11-6,11-9,11-5];  Jing Fang Lay [Australia] defeated Priscilla Tommy [Vanuatu] 4-0 [11-4, 12-10, 11-3, 12-10];

Men’s Singles, Round of 32:  Muhamad Rizal [Malaysia] defeated David Powell [Australia] 4-1 [11-9,9-11,11-6,11-9,11-5];  Heming Hu [Australia] defeated Bernard Sam [Ghana] 4-0 [11-2,11-8,11-6,11-4]; Chee Feng Leong [Malaysia] defeated Xin Yan [Australia] 4-1 [11-2,11-5,13-11,9-11,11-8];

 

 

Day 8 of competition, Thursday, 12th April

 

We have a couple of new events commencing today  – the Mountain Bikers take to the Nerang Mountain Bike Trails,   Wrestling began [that competition began with 6 weight classes to be contested as the Commonwealth’s best face off across a 12m by 12m mat. Today, the men’s 57kg and 74kg champions were crowned, as well as the women’s 53kg and 75kg categories].  Meanwhile, history was made when Beach Volleyball Commonwealth Games champions were determined for the first time.  In Badminton it was non-stop action at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, with the final day of preliminary rounds in the men’s and women’s singles and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles competition before the quarterfinals starting on Friday.

And we had another wonderful at the athletics track and field competition.  We will begin today’s summary with a look at the athletics program.

 

Athletics

 

Men’s Discus Throw, Qualifying, Groups A and B

Group A qualifying has 7 starters, including Australia’s Ben Harradine, who finished the group in 2nd position with a throw of 61.64, behind Fedrick Dacres of Jamaica [66.20]

Group B included Matty Denny and Mitchell Cooper.

 

Women’s Heptathlon Competition

The competition, to be run over two days, began with 13 starters, a small field, which included two Australians  – Alysha Burnett, and Celeste Mucci. The wimn compete over six events  –  On Day One, 100metre Hurdles, High Jump, 200 metres, and on Day Two, the Long Jump, Jsavelin, and 800 metres.  Today’s events tevealed the following progressive outcome.

Heptathlon 100 Metres Hurdles, Heats 1 and 2

Heat 1 was won by Elizabeth Dadzie [Ghana] in 13.49 [1052 pts]. Australia’s Alysha Burnett finished 3rd in 14.32 [934 pts]. Heat 2 went to Australia’s Celeste Mucci in the time of 13.19, earning her 1096 pts.

Following the hurdles event,  the leadr is Australia’s Celeste Mucci with 1096 pts, while Alysha is in 9th position on 934 pts, five more  events to be completed

Heptathlon High Jump

In this competition, the two Australian competitors finished in 2nd and 6th position. The leading jump was shared by Katarina Johnson-Thompson [England] with 1.87 [1067 pts], and Australia’s Alysha Burnett with th same height and points. Celeste Mucci finished in 6th position, 1.75 [916 pts].

At this stage, the progressive leading scores are 1. Katarina Johnson-Thompson [England] 2111 pts;  2.. Nina Schultz [Canada], 2084 pts; 3. Celeste Mucci [Australia], 2012 pts, and 4. Alysha Burnett [Australia], with 2001 pts.

Heptathlon Shot Put

In this third event of the Heptathlon, the two Australian girls finished in 2nd and third place, and collected valuable points in the overall competition.  Best throw came from Canada’s Niki Oudenaarden with 13.85.  Australia’s Alysha Burnett threw 13.62 [769]  and Celeste Mucci 12.22 [676 pts]. This event catapulted Alysha Burnett into the competition lead, at least temporarily, with a total score of 2870 points, ahead of Nina Schultz [2754 pts] and  Katarina Johnson-Thompson [2742 pts]

Heptathlon 200 metres, Heats1 and 2

That situation changed with the 200 metres heats.

In Heat 1, the winner was Niamh Emersen [England] in 24.83, while Alysha Burnett [not her strong event] came in 4th, in 26.76 [732 pts]. Nina Schultz earned 885 pts for her 25.02 time.

In Heat 2,  Katerina Johnson-Thompson won in 23.56 [1023 pts], and Celeste Mucci finished a strong 2nd in 24.59 [925 pts].

In summary, after Day 1’s four events, the leader is England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson [3675 pts], followed by Nina Schultz [Canada] [3639 pts] and in the Bronze medal position at present, Celeste Mucci [3613 pts]. Alysha Burnett is now in 5th place on 3502 pts. The Heptathlon concludes tomorrow.

 

Men’s Triple Jump Qualifying, Groups A and B  [WR: 18.29]

There was one Australian representative in this event –  Emmanuel Fakiye, who jumped in Group A, finishing back in 8th position with a distance of  15.70.The leading jump in that group was 16.75 by Yordanys Duranona Garcia [Dominica]. The Group B lading jump was completed by Arpinder Singh of India with 16.39. The Australian finished 15th overall, and did not qualify for Saturday’s final.

Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles, Heats 1 and 2  [WR: 12.20]

This has been Sally Pearson’s race, who was forced to withdraw on this occasion due to injury. There were two enthusiastic Australian girls to step up for her  –  Brianna Beahan and Michelle Jenneke.

Brianna ran in Heat 1, and finished in 2nd place in a time of 13.02 behind the winner, Oluwatobiloba Amusan [Nigeria] in 12.73.  In Heat 2, the winner was Danielle Williams of Jamaica in a time of 12.69, and Michelle Jenneke finished a close 4th by a whisker in 12.99.

In the overall classification, both Australian girls qualified for Friday’s final – Michelle [5th] and Brianna [6th].

Men’s T12 [Para] 100 Metres Heats 1 and 2, and Final

There were only 8 athletes competing for these medals, and surprisingly, no Australians.  The best time recorded was Ndodomzi Ntutu [South Africa] in 10.80 , with the final to be run in the evening. That result was:

GOLD: Ndodomzi Ntutu [South Africa] 11.02;    Silver:  Hilton Langenhoven [South Africa]  11.27:                                  Bronze: Muhamad Afiq Mohamad Ali Hanafiah [Malaysia] 11.28.

 

 

Women’s Shot Put Qualifying Groups A and B

I was disappointed to discover that we had no Australian women entered in this event for 2018. This morning, it was conducted in two groups of seven competitors, with the 12 best throws to qualify for the final on Friday.

Leading throwers  were: Group A: Brittany Crew [Canada] 17.50,  and Group B, Dame Valerie Adams [New Zealand] 18.52.

Women’s 800 Metres, Heats 1-3  [1.53.28]

This event was raced over 3 heats, leading up the Final on Friday.

In Heat 1, the South African champion, Caster Semenya had an early run in the early stages, and won in effortless fashion, in a time of 1.59.26. She has not been beaten in this event since September, 2015.  Australia’s 16 year-old Keely Small got out to a fast start, and in finishing in 6th position, she ran a personal best time of 2.00.81, a promising prospect for the future of Australian middle distance running.

Heat 2, also saw Australia’s Brittany McGovern go out fast, then get held up by the slow pace in the middle stages, before getting a fast finishing 4th place in 2.01.07, behind the heat winner, Margaret Wambui of  Kenya [2.00.60], in a slower heat, with the first two in each heat automatically going through to the final.

Australia’s Georgia Griffith ran in Heat 3, and was our hope for at least a minor medal.. She was up with the leaders in the first lap, then seemed to get trapped in a tight pack of runners early in the 2nd lap, dropped back and seemed out of it, but a wonderful finish saw Georgia just mussed the 2nd placing by 0.04 of a second [her time 2.00.73, a personal best]. The winner was Emily Teui [Kenya] in 2.00.58.

In the overall classification for the final, all three Australians failed to qualify, with Georgia Griffiths, 9th [one place out by that 0.04 of a second; Keely Small, 11th; and Brittany McGovern, 13th.

 

The evening session of today’s athletics program included three wonderful field events with some spectacular performances by our Australian athletes [two Gold and one Silver medal] – in the Men’s Pole Vault, Women’s Long Jump, and Women’s Discus. Let’s examine them.

Men’s Pole Vault Final    [6.16]

This is an event that Australia has had some success in over the years at both Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth level [including Steve Hooker, who currently still holds the Games record of 5.80], and tonight would possibly see the emergence of a new young star to carry on that success.  In the end, the competition proved to be a battle for the Gold between aa 20 year old Australian [Marschall] and a Canadaian [Barber], an exciting contest, after a slow start by both vaulters to get over the specified heights. In the end, it was a wonderful win for the young Australian.

GOLD: Kurtis Marschall [Australia]  5.70;  Silver:  Shawnacy Barber [Canada] 5.65; Bronze: Luke Cutts [England] 5.45.  The Australian, after he had won the Gold, made three [unsuccessful] attempts at a new Games record. Australia’s Angus Armstrong also competed in the final – he finished in 5th place with a height of 5.35.

Women’s 400 Metres Hurdles Final [WR: 52.34].

No Australians in this final but there three Jamaican runners.  Australia’s Jana Pitman holds the Games record for this event, which she recorded in Melbourne at the 2006 Commonwealth Games

GOLD: Janieve Russell [Jamaica] 54.33; Silver:  Eilidh Doyle [Scotland]  54.80; Bronze: Wenda Nel [South Africa] 54.96. Australia’s Lauren Wells finished 4thin her heat but did not qualify for the final.

Men’s 400 Metres Hurdles Final [WR: 46.78]

A bit of history in this race, with victory going to a country which had never won a Gold Medal previously, although he went into the race as the favourite.

GOLD:  Kyron McMaster [British Virgin Islands]  48.25;  Silver:  Jeffery Gibson [Bahamas] 49.10; Bronze:  Jaheel Hyde [Jamaica]  49.16.   Australia’s Ian Dewhurst had finished 3rd in his heat of this race, but didn’t make the final list.

Women’s Long Jump Final  [WR:7.52]We had three Australians in this event, with Brooke Stratton in particular hoping for a good result  – her obvious disappointment [though followed by a quick recovery] at missing the Gold was evidence of her early anticipation. The final result ended as follows……………GOLD: Christobel Netty [England] 6.84; Silver: Brooke Stratton [Australia] 6.77; Bronze:Shara Proctor [England] 6.75;   Australia’s Naa Anang finished 9th with 6.22, and Lauren Wells cane 11th in 6.16.

Women’s T38 [Para] 100 Metres Final

Three young Australian girls in this Para event  – the winner  was the predictable Sophie Hahn of England, who went in as favourite for the race.

GOLD: Sophie Hahn [England] 12.46; Silver: Rhiannon Clarke [Australia  – a very excited 15 year-old] 13.17;  Bronze: Olivia Breen [Wales] 13.35. Australia’s Ella Pardy finished 4th in 13.48, and Erin Cleaver was 5th in 14.43.

Women’s Discus Final  [WR: 76.80]

Australia’s veteran discus thrower, Dani Stevens, had a wonderful night in this event tonight, and together with her two fellow Australian competitors, they finished in the top six of the field of 13 throwers. Stevens went in as the favourite and did not disappointed the Gold Coast crowd, as each of her throws gradually added to her distance for the night – until she ended with a new Games record, destroying the existing GR of 65.92 in winning the Gold Medal………….GOLD: Dani Stevens [Australia] 68.26 [GR]; Silver: Seema Punia [India] 60.41; Bronze: Navjeet Dhillon [India]57.43.  The other two Australians –  Taryn Gollshewsky was 5th with 55.47, and Kimberley Mullhall, 6th, 54.93.

Women’s 200 Metres Final  [WR: 21.34]

As would be expected with a field of strong Caribbean runners in this race, a hectic finish took place, with the winner gaining clear ground, only in the closing stages.  Jamaica continued it’s run in these Games as not dominating results as much as in the past  [the absence of Usain Bolt for eg, has not helped in that respect, though I would imagine that as a team, they will be strong in both the Men’s and Women’s relays this weekend.

GOLD: Shaunae Miller-Uibo [Bahamas]22.09 [GR];  Silver:  Shericka Jackson [Jamaica] 22.18; Bronze:  Dina Asher-Smith [England] 22.29. Othr positions  – 4. Elaine Thompson [Jamaica] 22.30; 5. Crystal Emmanuel [Canada] 22.70;  6. Bianca Williams [England] 23.06; 7. Semoy Hackett [Trinidad & Tobago] 23.16. Shashalee Forbes [Jamaica] was disqualified.

Men’s 200 Metres Final  [19.19]

Well, this race proved to be a bit of a sensation, with the  Trinidad & Tobago runner [Jereem Richards], seemingly with the race in his grip, when a brilliant finishing sprint  over the last 10-15 metres or so, by  England’s Zharnel Hughes, pipped him on the finishing line, even though both men were initially given the same time.  However, it appeared as though in the dash for the line, Hughes had moved out of his lane, and inadvertently ‘interfered’ with the line of Richards,   A protest followed, while in the meantime,  Hughes, presumably unaware of what was happening, proceeded with his lap of honour, which seemed to continue for some time, after it had been indicated that the protest had been upheld,  and he had been disqualified

There would be a subsequent appeal by  Hughes, but in the meantime, the result stood as follows.

GOLD: Jereem Richards [Trinidad & Tobago] 20.12;  Silver: Aaroon Brown [Canada] 20.34;  Bronze:  Leon Reid [Northern Ireland] 20.55;  4. Clarence Munyai [South Africa] 20.58;  5. Sydney Ziame [Zambia] 20.62;  6. Kyle Greaux [Trinidad & Tobago] 20.63;  7. Warrn Weir [Jamaica] 20.71; Zharnel Hughes [England], disqualified.

The following subsequent report summarises this incident.

“The Commonwealth Games men’s 200m final ended in controversy with England’s Zharnel Hughes stripped of his gold medal for impeding runner-up Jereem Richards.  The English camp lodged an appeal against the disqualification, which saw the Trinidad and Tobago runner promoted to the gold medal position, but it was rejected late on Thursday night. Both men clocked 20.12 seconds but Hughes was originally declared the winner in a photo finish.  However, officials disqualified the Englishman soon after, ruling he impeded Richards in the home straight as the pair made contact in the sprint for the line.

It appeared Hughes deliberately flung his arm into Richards after the pair made accidental contact as a result of the frontrunner staying on the inside of his lane.  The crazy finish only happened after Hughes slowed considerably in the final metres with some commentators declaring he appeared to think he was safely home. Replays showed Hughes clearly crossed into Richard’s lane, forcing his rival to change his line. There was also arm contact between the two as Richards made a desperate late lunge 10m before the line. “I was coming up on him strongly and the hit threw me off my rhythm,” Richards said.  “I had to slow down.”

Channel 7’s Bruce McAvaney was stunned by the incident.  “It’s unbelievably close, it is just crazy what happened in the last 10 meters,” McAvaney said. “Not sure exactly how it played out, how does it finish? Wow, what a race.

“It was almost like they were going to fall over. “I would be fascinated to see the front angle and I can only conclude they just collided. Actually when he crossed the line, Hughes grabbed his hand.”

English athletics champion Lord Sebastian Coe said it was obvious there would be a protest to Hughes’ run after watching the front-on angle.  There was no need for a protest with officials taking the decision to disqualify Hughes several minutes after the event finished. He had no idea, blindsides as he did a lap of honour with the English flag draped across his back.

“Hughes didn’t know and that is remarkable,” McAvaney said. “On the board, he has done a lap of honour and now there is disbelief for the young man. I am sure England will do everything they can do to get him reinstated.”” [from news.com.ai]

Men’s 800 Metres Final [WR:  1.40.91]

The final track event for the night – and for the first time since the Brisbane Commonwealth Games of 1982, Australia had two runners in the 800 metres final, Luke Mathews and Joseph Deng. Mathews began well, and maintained a good position amongst the leaders in the first lap, before gradually falling back towards the rear of the field, where Deng had remained for most of the race to that stage.  From an Australian point of view, a dramatic change came over the race in the final 15-20 metres, with Mathews coming from 3rd last, to streak into the Bronze medal position.  A very excited young man, who may have risked a penalty, when he took his shirt [soccer style] off as he began to celebrate with supporters at the side of the track, which h quickly replaced, upon the advice of one of supporters!!  A nice finish to the night on the track for the Australian crowd.

GOLD: Wyecliffe Kinyamal [Kenya]  1.45.11;  Silver: Kyle Langford [England]  1.45.16; Bronze: Luke Mathews [Australia] 1.45.60. Australia’s 2nd runner, Joseph Deng finished in 7th position in 1.47.20.

 

Badminton

Today’s results which featured Australians as follows.

Women’s Doubles, Round of 16: Setyana Mapasa & Gronya Somerville [Australia] defeated Fiji 2-0 [21-3,21-6]

Men’s Singles, Round of 16: H.S. Prannoy [India] defeated Anthony Joe [Australia] 2-0  [21-18,21-11]

Women’s Singles, Round of 16: Venkata Pusarla [[India] defeated Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen [Aust] 2-0 [21-15,21-9];

Mixed Doubles, Round of 16:  Australia [Sawan Serainghe & Setyana Mapasa] defeated Canada 2-0 [21-14,21-18];

Men’s Doubles, Round of 16: Singapore defeated Australia [Matthew Chau & Sawan Serainghe]  2-1 [23-21, 16-21, 21-14];

 

Beach Volleyball

The matches for the Gold/Silver, and Bronze medals took place this evening, with Australia playing Canada in both of the Gold Medal matches.  I think the Women’s team were expected to win,. While the Men faced the much higher ranked and experienced opposition.  The outcomes were not quite along those lines, with both matches proving to very tight matches, with the outcome uncertain until the final points

For Gold/Silver Medals:  Men: Australia [McHugh/Schumann] defeated Canada 2-1  [21-18, 18-21, 18-16];   Women:  Canada defeated Australia [Artacho del Solar/Clancy] 2-0  [21-19,22-20]

For Bronze Medal:   Men: New Zealand defeated England 2-0  [21-13; 21-15];  Women:  Vanuatu defeated Cyprus 2-0 [21-14, 21-10].

 

 

Cycling – Mountain Bikes

In the Mountain Bike races, after a mass start, competitors complete a specified number of laps of the course, which involves a variety of terrains from fire roads to forest tracks, rocky sections and single tracks, with plenty of climbing and descending. Obviously, the gold medal is awarded to the first rider to cross the finish line.

 

Women’s Cross Country

As with the Men’s event, this was held at the Nerang Mountain Bik Trails venue  – 13 starters including Rebecca McConnell of Australia started out on the 6 lap course. Rebecca, formerly Rebecca Henderson, and now married to Men’s mountain bike competition, Daniel McConnell, got off to a difficult start where she lost considerable ground in the stages, and despite improving her position as the race went on,  was  never in the running for the medals.  This race has been one by the Canadian girls over the last three Games, however, the English riders had some revenge on this occasion. There were 13 starters in the race.

GOLD: Annie Last [England] came ‘first’ in 1.18.02;  Silver: Evie Richards [England] 1.18.50;  Bronze:  Haley Smith [Canada] 1.20.26.  Australia’s Rebecca McConnell finished in 6th position in 1.22.32.

Men’s Cross Country

The men had 22 starters in their race including Daniel McConnell of Australia [our sole rider, and husband of Rebecca from the women’s race], of which 6 riders were lapped during the course of the race. An interesting outcome this race  –  the result of the 2014 event was exactly reversed.  At Glasgow,  Anton Cooper defeated Samuel Gaze by 3 seconds in a tight finish [both New Zealanders]. The same two riders battled it out for the Gold Medal today, with this time Gaze getting up by, well, a whisker, because they were recorded with the same time. Though they were both New Zealanders, it was rather obvious that there was no love lost between them!!!

As for our man –  he had similar luck or bad luck as his wife, in the earlier race, fell back early, and was unable to make up sufficient ground to be a challenge for any medals. The final result:

GOLD:  Samuel Gaze [New Zealand]  1.17.36; Silver: Anton Cooper [New Zealand]: 1.17.36;  Bronze:  Alan Hatherly [South Africa] 1.17.56.  Australia’s Daniel McConnell finished in 7th place in a time of 1.19.59

 

Diving

Two medal events scheduled for today’s  competition

Men’s 3m Springboard

After the preliminary rounds, in which there were 17 divers,, two of Australia’s three competitor’s qualified for the evening final.  The leading qualifier was Philippe Gagne [Canada] with 448.40 pts.  Australia’s Matthew Carter qualified 2nd with 436.25 pts, James Connor qualified 8th with 389.55 pts, while Kurtis Mathews finished in 17th place with 286.35 pts, and did not qualify to proceed to the final.

In the final, the Australians finished in 3rd and 6th position.

GOLD: Jack Laugher [England]  519.40 pts; Silver: Phillipe Gagne [Canada] 452.70 pts;  Bronze: James Connor [Australia] 438.50 pts.  Australia’s Matthew Carter finished in 6th position with 409 points.

Women’s 10m Platform

The preliminary rounds resulted in a best score of 339 pts by Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg.  Australia’s ‘young’ veteran,  Melissa Wu, finished in 3rd position with 327.20 pts, while Brittany O’Brien was 7th [304.75] and Teju Williamson, 8th [293.80]. There were 12 competitors, and all 12 qualified for the final later in the evening.

The medal event was a wonderful result for Australia  with the ‘veteran’ of the team, Melissa Wu  winning Gold with her final dive. From memory, I think Melissa was as young as 13 years when she first competed at Melbourne in 2006, and her wins have generally come as part of a duo, so this individual victory was particularly sweet.

GOLD: Melissa Wu [Australia] 360.40 pts;  Silver: Meaghan Benfeito [Canada] 359.75;  Bronze:  Lois Toulson [England] 344.20. Australia’s Brittany O’Brien finished 7th [322.50] and Teju Williamson, 11th [276.35]

 

 

Hockey

Four matches played tonight in the Women’s section as we close in on the medal matches

Women’s Placing 9-10:  Wales drew with Ghana 1-1;

Women’s Placing 7-8: Scotland defeated Malaysia 4-2;

Women’s Semi-final: England drew with  New Zealand 0-0

Women’s Semi-final: Australia defeated  India  1-0

At the time of writing, I’m uncertain as to the treatment applied to the two drawn matches

 

Lawn Bowls

Today’s events, saw Australia play in two Gold Medal matches –  for Women’s Triples, and the Open B6/B7/B8 [Para] Triples.

Women’s Triples Semi-final:  Australia [Carla Krinzanic, Natasha Scott & Rebecca van Asch] defeated England 16-13;   Gold Medal Match:  Australia defeated Scotland  21-12.  Bronze Medal Match: Eng defeated land defeated Canada 20-12;

Open B6/B7/B8 [Para] TriplesGold Medal Match:  Australia [Josh Thornton, Tony Bonnell, & Ken Hansen] defeated New Zealand 14-13; Bronze Medal Match:  South Africa defeated England 16-13;

Men’s Singles Quarter-final:  Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Gary Kelly [Northern Ireland] 21-9 ;

Women’s Pairs Quarter final: Scotland defeated Australia [Lelsey Cottrell & Karen Murphy]  16-15;

 

Men’s Fours:  , Round 5:  Australia [Barrie Lester, Brett Wilkie, Nathan Rice & Aron Sherriff] defeated South Africa 27-6;.      Quarter Final: Australia [Barrie Lester, Brett Wilkie, Nathan Rice & Aron Sherriff] defeated Northern Ireland 13-9;   Semi-finals:  Australia defeated Wales 15-5;  Scotland defeated England 18-10;

 

 

Netball

There were four netball matches this afternoon as the non-medal contenders attempted to assert their authority in the general rankings below 1-4.

Women’s placing 5-6:  South Africa defeated Uganda  53-42;

Women’s placing 7-8:  Malawi defeated  Northern Ireland 60-52;

Women’s placing 9-10: Scotland defeated Barbados 50-48;

Women’s placing 11-12: Wales defeated Fiji 81-32;

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics

All Round Individual Finals

I can’t admit to having any specific viewing interest in this ‘sport’, but it was interesting to see that the Australian competitors performed well, though outside of the medals.

GOLD:  Diamanto Evripidou [Cyprus]  55.750 pts;  Silver:  Katherine Uchida [Canada]  52.650; Bronze:  Kwan Dict Weng [Malaysia] 51.500.   Australia’s Enid Sung finished in 4th place, just outside of the medals, with 50.725. Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva finished 10th with 46.100

 

Shooting

Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Qualification, Stage 1

We had 13 competitors in this first qualification stage, with the leading score created by Neeraj Kumar of India, with 291-7. Australia’s Sergie Evglevski was in 5th position [285-7], and David Chapman, 8th [279-4]  The 2nd stage, and the Final take place tomorrow.

Queen’s Prize Individual Finals Day 2

A big field of 33 shooters, with today’s competition ending with the leading contender Australia’s Jim Bailey with a score of 255-7. Ben Emms [Australia] was in 12th position [252-29]. The event will be concluded on Saturday.

Women’s 50m Rifle Prone Finals

Our Australian women finished down the list here, as the event was taken out by the shooter from Singapore.

GOLD:  Martina Lindsay Veloso [Singapore] 621.0 GR;  Silver: Tejaswini Sawant [India] 618.9;  Bronze: Seonaid McIntosh [Scotland]  618.1. Australia’s Robyn Ridley finished in 8th position with 612.5, and Susannah Smith, 13th, with score of 606.7

 

Squash

Mixed Doubles: Round of 16: Australia[Donna Urquhart/Cameron Pilley] defeated Cayman Island 2-0[11-7,11-5]; Australia [Rachael Grinham & Ryan Cluskelly] defeated Pakistan 2-0 [11-3,11-1];    Quarter Final: Australia vs Australia  [Donna Urquhart/Cameron Pilley] defeated Australia [Rachael Grinham & Ryan Cluskelly] 2-0 [11-6,11-9]

Men’s Doubles Round of 16: Australia [Cameron Pilley & Ryan Cluskelly] defeated Guyuna 2-0 [11-9,11-7];  Australia [Zac Alexander & David Palmer] defeated Wales 2-0 [11-1,11-6];

 

Table Tennis

Women’s Doubles, Round of 16: Australia [Jian Fang Lay & Miao Miao] defeated Singapore 3-2 [12-10,4-11,2-11,11-6,11-8];  Australia [Michelle Bromley & Melissa Tapper] defeated Malaysia 3-1 [11-2,12-10,9-11,11-7];

Women’s Doubles Quarter Final:  Malaysia defeated Australia [Jian Fang Lay & Miao Miao] 3-1 [9-11,13-11,11-9,11-9];

Men’s Doubles, Round of 16:  Australia [Heming Hu & Xin Yan] defeated Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 [11-2,12-10,11-9];

MTT 6-10 [Para] Singles:  Theo Gogill [South Africa] defeated Barak Mizrachi [Australia] 3-0 [11-4,11-3,11-6]; Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Vera Nime [PNG] 3-0 [11-2,11-5,11-3];  Andrea McDonald [Australia] defeated Vaishnavi Sutar [India] 3-0 [11-3,11-3,11-1];

Mixed Doubles Round of 16: Australia [Jian Fang Lay & Xin Yan] defeated Singapore 3-2  [11-8,6-11,11-6,5-11,11-3];  England defeated Australia [Trent Carter & Tracy Feng] 3-1 [11-6,5-11,11-5,11-9];  Singapore defeated Australia [Hu Hemming & Melissa Tapper] 3-2 [11-7,11-4,9-11,9-11,11-9];

Women’s Singles Round of 16: Manika Batra [India] defeated Tracy Feng [Australia] 4-1 [11-6, 11-6,9-11,11-9,11-7];  Tianwei Feng [Singapore] defeated Melissa Tapper [Australia] 4-0 [11-5,11-2,11-9,11-7]; Jian Fang Lay [Australia] defeated Ying Ho [Malaysia] 4-1 [8-11,11-5,11-7,11-2,11-5];

Men’s Singles Round of 16: Sharath Achanta [India] defeated Heming Hu [Australia] 4-1 [11-8,12-10,8-11,11-6,11-5];

 

Wrestling Competition

These contests take place on a 12×12 metre mat. The competition features men’s and women’s freestyle Wrestling across six weight categories in each. A match consists of two periods of three minutes, with a 30 second break in between.  A pin is awarded when a wrestler pins their opponent’s shoulder to the mat. Wrestlers also score points for takedowns, turns and throws. The winner is declared by the addition of points scored in both period. If at any point, a wrestler gains a 10-point advantage, the match ends automatically.

Medals were awarded today in the categories of Men’s Freestyle 57kg, and 74kg; and Women’s 76kg. There were a large number of preliminary bouts held, leading up to the medal stages. One Gold, one Silver, and two Bronze medals are awarded in each case.

Men’s Freestyle 57 kg event

GOLD/SILVER: Rahul Aware [India] defeated Steven Takahashi [Canada] 15-7;

Bronze Medal 1: Ebikewenimo Welson [Nigeria] defeated Jan Combrinck [South Africa] 5-2;

Bronze Medal 2: Muhammad Bilal [Pakistan] defeated George Ramm [England]  6-2

In the 1/8 Final, Australia’s Thomas Cicchini defeated Lowe Bingham [Nauru] 9-6;  ;  in the ¼ final, Rahul Aware [India] defeated Thomas Cicchini [Australia] 10-0;  in Reperchage Round 2, George Ramm [England] defeated Thomas Cicchini [Australia] 11-0;

Women’s Freestyle 76 kg event

GOLD/SILVER:  Erica Wiebe [Canada] defeated Blessing Onyebuchi [Nigrria] 4-2, victory by fall.

Bronze Medal 1: Georgina Nelthorpe [England] defeated Hajaratu Kamara [Sierra Leone] 10-0;

Bronze Medal 2: Kiran [India] defeated Katouskia Pariadhaven [Mauritius]  10-0;

In the ¼ final, Georgina Nelthorpe [England] defeated Naomi de Bruine [Australia] 8-4;

Men’s Freestyle 74 kg event

GOLD/SILVER:  Kumar Sushil [India] defeated Johannes Botha [South Africa] 10-0;

Bronze Medal 1:  Curtis Dodge [Wales] defeated Ebimienfaghe Assizecourt [Nigeria] 11-9;

Bronze Medal 2:  Jevon Balfour [Canada] defeated Connor Evans [Australia] 14-4

In the 1/8 final, Connor Evans [Australia] defeated Sean Wrinkle [Bahamas] 4-0; In the ¼ final, Connor Evans [Australia] defeated Akash Khullar [New Zealand] 6-0;  in the Semi-final, Kumar Sushil [India] defeated Connor Evans [Australia] 4-0;

Other results involving Australian wrestlers were as follows:

Women’s 53kg Freestyle Nordic:  Deepika Dilhani [Sri Lanka] defeated Carissa Holland [Australia] 10-2;  Diana Weicker  [Canada] defeated Carissa Holland [Australia] 10-0;  Bose Samuel [Nigeria] defeated Carissa Holland [Australia] 10-0;  Babita Kumari [India] defeated Carissa Holland [Australia] 4-0;

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games: Part 6:  13th April

Day 8 of competition,  Friday, 13th April

 

It’s another promise of a wonderful day ahead at various venues, including the athletics track where we will see heats of the Relays, the Men’s 1500 metres and the conclusion of the Heptathlon competition, while this evening’s program includes the Men’s 10,000 metres final. Always a highlight of my athletics viewing.

In shooting, the reigning champion Laetisha Scanlan will be defending her title in the Women’s Trap event today at Belmont Shooting Centre. Win or lose, the GC2018 Shooting Ambassador will still have something to celebrate when she opens fire on her Games campaign, it is her birthday today!

Boxing will be a day full of punch and high drama at Oxenford Studios as 28 semi-final bouts determine who advances to the gold medal fight. Scotland’s Reece McFadden has taken the first step to better his podium finish four years ago and GC2018 Ambassador Skye Nicolson has matched her late brother’s bronze medal.

In Hockey -World No.1 Australia will meet England, while India will play New Zealand in the semi-finals of the men’s Hockey competition. Australia heads into the semi-finals undefeated and looking to continue their form to give Captain and GC2018 Hockey Ambassador Mark Knowles a perfect send-off.

The basketball semi-finals come to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on day eight of GC2018 competitions, while the Canadian and South African women’s teams will make history when they compete in the first ever Rugby Sevens match at a Commonwealth Games.

Those events, and so much else to look forward to.

 

We commence at the athletics track, with a summary of today’s track and field vents.

 

Athletics

 

It was Day 2 of the Heptathlon competition, and e left yesterday, with Australia’s Celeste Mucci sitting in third place on 3613 points behind the leader, England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s progressive score of 3675 points. There were three more events to b completed today.

Heptathlon Long Jump

The winner of the Long Jump was the English girl, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, with a jump of 6.50 which earned her a further 1007 points. Australia’s Celeste Mucci finished in 3rd place, with 6.10 and 880 points. Alysha Burnett finished in 8th position, 5.82 [795 points] . After that event, Mucci remains in 3rd place although she has lost ground behind the leader [now down by 29 pts] and 2nd place-getter, Nina Schultz

Heptathlon – Javelin Throw

Australia’s Alysha Burnett performed beautifully in this event with a leading throw of 46.56, earning her 794 points. Celeste Mucci finished in 6th position with a throw of 43.03 [726 pts].

With just the 800 metres heats to be run in the evening session,  the leader of the competition remains as Katerinaze  Johnson-Thompson [5448], from Nina Schultz [5274], with Celeste Mucci in the potential Bronx medal position with 5219 pts [55 pts behind the leader]

Heptathlon – 800 metres [2 heats]

As we went into this event, in which both Australians will run in the 2nd heat], we find that the athlete with the best personal time over 800 metres is the current Heptathlon leader, some 22 seconds better than Celeste Mucci, and 20 seconds better than Burnett  –  Mucci needs a marathon effort to make up ground and hope that both of the two leaders run poor 800 metres!! Unfortunately for both our girls, this run would prove to be their Achilles heel of the competition, and would knock Mucci in particular out of her medal hopes.

Run over two heats, Holly McArthur [Scotland] won the 1st heat in 2.13.04 [921 pts].  The remaining six competitors took their place in Heat 2, which saw Niamh Henderson [England] win in n2.12.18 [933 pts], from Nina Schultz, 2.17.40 [859 pts] with Katerina Johnson-Thompson 4th in 2.21.24 [807 pts].Mucci finished 5th in 2.29.73 [696 pts], and Burnett, 6th in 2.43.14 [537 pts]. The 800 metre run propelled Emersen into the bronze medal position ahead of Australia’s athlete.

GOLD:  Kstarina Johnson-Thompson [England], 6,255 points;  Silver: Nina Schultz [Canada], 6,133 points [PB]; Bronze: Niamh Emerson [England],6,043 points [PB]. Australia’s Celeste Mucci ginished in 4th place on 5,915 points [also a personal best], while Alysha Burnett, finished 9th, with 5,628 points. Of the 13 original starters, 12 completed the program

 

Men’s Javelin Throw Qualifying, Groups A and B  [WR: 98.48]

Australia’s Luke Cann was amongst 12 throwers in Group A, where he finished in 4th spot with a throw of 77.43. The best throw was by Anderson Peters of Grenada, with a throw of 80.44.  In Group B, Australia’s Hamish Peacock led the 12 competitors in this group with a best throw of 81.22.

Both Australians have qualified for Saturday’s Final  –  Peacock qualified 1st, while Cann qualified in 8th position.

Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Heats  [WR: 36.84 Jamaica]

Heat 1 saw the Australian foursome compete with an excellent effort to be just overrun in the closing metres by the South African runner  – the Australians [Trae Williams, Rohan Browning, Jack Hale & Josh Clarke] led at each change of the baton, and as indicated, just overtaken before the finishing line. Placings were: 1. South Africa: [38.71]. 2. Australia [38.78]; 3. Sri Lanka [39.47]. The Gambia also qualified for the final, while Trinidad and Tobago were disqualified.  In Heat 2,  England won [38.15] from Jamaica [38.44] and Nigeria [38.52]. Also qualified were Barbadas, Malaysia and Singapore, with Canada disqualified.  England’s disqualified from last night, ran a brilliant lap to bring his team home.

The final of this relay will be run on Saturday afternoon.

Men’s 1500 Metres Semi-finals [WR:  3.26.00: El Guerrouj]

We had two Australian runners in the 1st heat – Ryan Gregson, and  backing up from last night’s bronze medal win, Luke Mathews.  Mathews pushed forward early, with Gregson at the rear in a tight bunched group of runners, although by the 2nd lap, while still at the rear, he was looking comfortable. With a lap to go, Gregson starts to move through the field, and draws up to the leader in the straight, and in a mature piece of running doesn’t actually try and take the lead over the Kenyan. Mathews found the pace too hot in the end. The Heat result saw Timothy Cheruiyot [Kenya] first in 3.42.95 followed by Ryan Gregson [Australia] in 3.43.06, and 3rd, Kumari Taki [Kenya] 3.43.93.Luke Mathews finished in 7th place in a time of 3.47.08.

The 2nd Heat was won by Kenya’s Elijah Motonei Manangoi in 3.46.82. Australia’s Jordan Williamsz finished 5th in a close battle for the 4th position [1st four in each heat qualify plus the next best 4] in 3.47.75. He is Ryan Gregson’s training partner, and after pushing forward early in the race, but by the lap had dropped back towards the rear of the field, so with a lap to go, he had work to do – finished strongly to just miss 4rg but would qualify on his recorded time.

In fact, all three Australians qualified for Saturday afternoon’s Final –  Gregson [2nd], Mathews [9th] and Williamsz [12th]

Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Semi-finals  [WR: 2.54.29, USA]

The 1st Heat featured just 5 teams. During the first leg, the English runner collapsed after 60metres with apparently a hamstring injury, and with Nigeria subsequently disqualified, the remaining teams of Botswana, Kenya and Fiji made up the three placegetters, the winning time being 3.05.01.

The 2nd Heat featured the Australian quartet of Murray Goodman, Daniel Mowen, Joshua Ralph and Steven Solomon –  these four had only run together on three previous occasions, and it was a pleasant opportunity for our champion, Steven Solomon to have a group of capable athletes to team with. Australia were in 4th place after the first and second change, and had moved into 3rd place as Josh Ralph passed the baton to Steven Solomon.   It was a powerful run by Solomon to get the team into automatic qualification into 3rd place.  However  –  on the last change, it seems that Ralph passed the baton in an incorrect position, handicapping the runner from Trinidad and Tobago. For some considerable time, this was being discussed by the judges and officials, with the TV commentators convinced that the Australian team on the basis of what they saw, would be disqualified. It was then announced that all was okay, and Trinidad & Tobago had qualified in any case.  However [take two] it was later announced that Australia had in fact being disqualified. An appeal was allowable, but a favourable outcome highly unlikely, so after a great team effort, it was all for nought!!  The resultant placings went to Jamaica, India and The Bahamas.  This was one of the big disappointments of the athletics competition.

Reported the following day –  [after the appeal had been dismissed] –  “Australia has blamed an official for the botched changeover…..[where]…Steve Solomon lined up in the wrong position for the final baton change. As third-leg runner Josh Ralph was fifth at the 200m, Solomon should have taken that spot at the hangover. But he stood in the fourth position, forcing Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon to run wide before passing his baton to Machel Cedenio”…..Ralph later made it clear which official was in error, tweeting ‘it takes a real man to admit he made a mistake, today’s official was not one of those men’!!  Whatever the cause or mistake, we move on!!

 

After a somewhat dramatic morning, the evening session began another great night of track and field events with the Women’s Pole Vault. Men’s Discus and the  Women’s Shotput, accompanied by the spectacle of track races, the Men’s 10,000 metres race!!   What more could an athletics enthusiast ask for?

Women’s Pole Vault Final  [WR: 5.06]

This is one of the longest running field events – nearly two and half hours in duration –  Australia had three women in contention including one ‘relative’ veteran with the future of Australian women’s pole vaulting. The vaulter from Canada would upset the Olympic Gold medallist at Rio, from New Zealand, with a Games Record gold medal performance, although both were closely challenged at times by Australia’s young Nina Kennedy, a girl on the rise,  with some spectacular heights over the bar. In the end however, from an original field of 14 starters, the outcome

was as follows.

GOLD: Alysha Newman [Canada] 4.75 [GR]; Silver: Eliza McCartney [New Zealand] 4.70;  Bronze: Nina Kennedy [Australia] 4.60.  Australia’s Liz Parnov finished equal 5th with 4.40, and Lisa Campbell in 11th position with a vault of 4.00 [she had shown early promise at the beginning of the event]

Men’s 3,000 metres Steeplechase Final  [WR: 7.53.63]

.A smallish field of 11 in this race, including one Australian [James Nipperess] and three Kenyans, who would be expected to dominate the race.  It was a big ask to expect much from the Aussie who was stepping up to a group of athletes well beyond his best time, but he was happy to be in the field. As always, a wonderful spectacle. As reported elsewhere, ‘Kenyan Kipruto, the reigning Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion, completed his collection of of championship crowns with the easiest win of the Gold Coast meeting’. Interestingly, with the Kenyans having finished 1,2 and 3 in the last five Commonwealth events of this discipline, they wanted a 6th successive sweep of the medals –  but Matthew Hughes of Canada, the one white man amongst the leading group for much of the race threatened to spoil their party  –  Kipruto, winning as he liked, was talking incessantly to his teammates, encouraging them, especially the 4th placed runner at that stage, to keep up with him. It just worked, with the unfortunate Canadian falling over the finish line as the third Kenyan passed, and Kenya, once again, collected all three medals. Australia’s James Nipperess finished back in 9th position in a time of 8.58.16 [his previous best time had been 8.32.59]……………….GOLD:  Conseslus Kipruto [Kenya] 8.10.08;  Silver:  Abraham Kibiwott [Kenya]  8.10.62;  Bronze:  8.12.24. The Canadian who finished 4th, 0.09 seconds behind.

Men’s Discus Throw Final  [WR: 24.08]

Our three Australians in this event all qualified for the final, finishing in the three spots outside the medals. One of those was Benn Harradine, who competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Harradine made the final of the discus at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where he finished eighth. He went on to win the 2010 Commonwealth title. His 5th place finish at the 2011 World Championships is the best ever finish by an Australian man in the event. He has broken the Australian record three times, his current personal best being 68.20 metres thrown in Townsville in May 2013.  He is a proud indigenous athlete from the Wotjobaluk tribe in the Wimmera district of Victoria. He cites land rights activist Vincent Lingiar as one of the people he admires. He is recognized in the Australian Olympic Committee list of Australian Indigenous Olympians. This would be his competition before retiring from the sport, and there were some emotional scenes with his family and supporters at the conclusion of tonight’s competition.

The gold and silver medals went to the Jamaican athletes.

GOLD: Federick Dacres [Jamaica] 68.20 [GR];  Silver: Traves Smikle [Jamaica] 63.98;  Bronze:  Apostolos Parellis [Cyprus].  For Australia, Matty Denny finished 4th [62.53], Mitchell Cooper, 5th [60.40], and Benn Harradine, 6th [59.92]

Men’s T47 [Para]  100 metres Final 

There were 6 starters in this race, no Australian representative. GOLD: Suwaibidu Galadina [Nigeria] 11.04; Silver:  James Arnott [England] 11.30;  Bronze:  Tevaughan Thomas [Jamaica]  11.63.

Women’s Shotput Final  [WR: 22.63; CG: 20.47 Dame Valerie Adams]

The existing champion from New Zealand, was Dame Valerie Adams, who was going for her 4th successive win in these Games and this event [a few months after giving birth to her first child], – no other Games athlete had won their event more than three times.  She is a four-time World champion, three time World Indoor champion, two-time Olympic and three-time Commonwealth champion. She currently holds the New Zealand, Oceanian, Commonwealth,  and equal  World Championship records with a personal best throw of 21.24 metres.  Adams won a silver medal at Rio de Janeiro with a distance of 20.42 m behind US athlete Michelle Carter.

Today however, she would not achieve her desired milestone, being thwarted by the powerful shot-putter from Jamaica. While Australia had good representation in this vent in the past, we were without a representative on this occasion.

GOLD: Danniel Thomas-Dodd [Jamaica] 19.36;  Silver:  Dame Valerie Adams [New Zealand] 18.70;  Bronze:  Brittany Crew [Canada]  18.32.

Women’s 800 metre Final.  [WR: 1.53.28; GR: 1.56.68, Caster Semenya]

Caster Semnya went into this final [after winning the 1500 metres earlier in the week] with a vice-like grip on the title, it was difficult to see who could beat her. In the end, she was far too strong, no one came near her in the end. As Paul Malone would report in Saturday’s Herald Sun “Caster Semenya raced effortlessly into Commonwealth Games history last night, leaving athletics bosses with the tough decision about how much further they will allow her to run. The Court of Arbitration for sport has given world athletics governing body, the IAAF, until July to explain how it intends to implement its hyper-androgenism regulations. The handful of women’s events it has scrutinised  most notably include Semenya’s”.  Speaking after the race, the athlete herself said “I’ve had to learn how to manage it myself, how to face the world. It’s not about what other people think of me, it’s about how I think of myself. I’m here to inspire the world, nothing else”.  From one bio of the runner  –  “Future Olympic champion Caster Semenya was a teenage runner from a small village in South Africa when she became the centre of an international brouhaha about her gender in 2009’.  That outcome of that is for others to judge – as on other occasions, her win the 800 metres was powerful and convincing.

GOLD: Caster Semenya [South Africa] 1.56.68 [new GR];  Silver: Margaret Nyairera Wambui [Kenya] 1.58.07;  Bronze:  Natoye Goule [Jamaica] 1.58.82. The starting field included two other Kenyans, two Ugandans and one English runner, no Australian.

Men’s 10,000 metres Final.  [WR: 26.17.53]

One of the classic vents of any athletics program,  this event attracted a relatively small field of 14 starters, including two Australian competitors – Patrick Tiernan and Stewart McSweyn.  In recent times, the Ugandan runners have begun to exert their dominance in this race, with the starting list including 3 Ugandans and 3 Kenyans, who were expected to control the running to some degree. Throughout the duration of the race, after staying in touch with the leading group early in the race, the two Australians gradually fell back and would generally remain in around 10th and 11th position, and at the 5000 metre mark, were some 40 metres off the pace. At about the 20 minute mark, the New Zealander [Jake Robertson] took over the lead for a brief time from the African runners, although they would not allow that to remain that way for long. In the end, the Ugandan champion would break the Games record in a convincing final lap, in which he almost ‘teased’ his opposition to catch him!!….GOLD: Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei [Uganda] 27.19.62 [GR]:  Silver: Mohammad Ahmed [Canada, of African heritage] 27.20.56; Bronze:  Rodgers Kwemoi [Kenya]  27.28.66.  Australia’s Stewart McSweyn finished in 11th position in 28.58.22, while Patrick Tiernan was disqualified – the reason for which I am unaware.

Women’s 100 metres Hurdles Final  [WR: 12.20]

In a night that was supposed to be Sally Pearson’s return, two Australian girls stepped up to try and take her plce –  Michelle Jenneke and Brianna Beahan. Jenneke would improve on her Glashow 4th place, and early in the race looked as though she might be a challenge for the medals, still in front at the halfway mark – until the Nigerian runner ‘scooted’ away!!  GOLD: Oluwatobiloba Amusan [Nigeria] 12.68;  Silver:  Danielle Williams [Jamaica] 12.78; Bronze:  Yanique Thompson [Jamaica] 12.97.  Australia’s Michelle Jenneke finished 4th in 13.07, while Brianna Beahan finished 5th in 13.11.

 

Badminton

A day of quarter-final matches in the badminton competition, and those games in which Australian were involved resulted as follows.

Women’s Doubles Quarter-final:  Australia [Setyana Mapasa & Gronya Somerville] defeated Malaysia 2-0  [21-15,21-16];

Mixed Doubles Quarter-final:  England [Gabrielle & Chris Laycock] defeated Australia [Sawan Serasinghe & Setyana Mapasa] 2-0 [21-10,21-14];

 

.Basketball

The basketball competition resumes today with the women’s semi-finals.

Semi-final 1: England defeated Canada  65-53;;

Semi-final 2: Australia defeated New Zealand 109-50.

 

Boxing

It was semi-final day in the Boxing competition, and Australian had a number of  fighters in contention, with some considerable success, with their results are detailed below. Two bronze medals are awarded in each division, in addition to the gold and silver awards.

Women’s 51 kg Semi-final 1:  Lisa Whiteside [England] defeated Taylah Robertson [Australia] 3-2;

Women’s 60 kg Semi-final 1:  Anja Stridsman [Australia] defeated Troy Garton [New Zealand] 5-0;

Men’s 50 kg, Semi-final 2: Harry Garside [Australia] defeated Michael McDonagh [Wales] 3-2;

Men’s 91 kg, Semi-final 1: Jason Whateley [Australia] defeated Naman Tanwar [Ondia]  4-0;

Women’s 57 kg, Semi-final 2:  Skye Nicholson [Australia] defeated  Sabrina Aubin-Boucher [Canada] 4-1, a very popular winner, sister of former Olympic and Commonwealth Gams boxer, Jamie Nicholson

Women’s 75 kg, Semi-final 1:  Caitlin Parker [Australia] defeated Millicent Agboegbulem [Nigeria] 5-0;

Men’s 81 kg, Semi-final 1:  Sammy Lee [Wales] defeated Clay Waterman [Australia] 4-1;

 

Diving

Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final

The Australian pair collected the Bronze in this competition, with the two duos from England winning the major medals……………GOLD:  Thomas Daley & Daniel Goodfellow [England]  405.81 pts;  Silver:  Matthew Dixon & Noah Williams [England]  399.99;  Bronze: Dominic Bedggood & Declan Stacey [Australia] 397.92.

In the Final tonight,  the English diver, Jack Laugher successfully won his third Gold of the tournament.

GOLD:  Jack Laugher & Chris Mears [England] 436.17;  Silver: Phillipe Gagne & Francois Imbeau-Dulac [Canada] 415.23; Bronze: Dominic Bedggood & Matthew Carter [Australia] 408.12.  The 2nd Australian duo of James Connor & Kurtis Mathews finished in 6th position with 370.17

 

Women’s 1m Springboard Final

The preliminary round of this event saw the Australian girls finish 1 and 2 in the qualifying stage  –  Esther Qin [273.80 pts] and Georgia Sheehan [ 263.75 pts]. South Africa’s Julia Vincent was 3rd with 260.95.

In the final, held this evening  –  the two Aussie girls picked up the minor medals, behind an excellent display of diving by the girl from Scotland………………GOLD: Grace Reid [Scotland]  275.30;  Silver: Gorgia Sheehan [Australia]  264.00;  Bronze:  Esther Qin [Australia]  252.95.

 

Hockey

Today’s matches include the two men’s semi-finals, men’s placings 5-10, and the women’s 5-6 placing match.

Men’s Semi-final 1: New Zealand defeated India: 3-2;

Men’s Semi-final 2: Australia defeated England 2-1;

Men’s Placing 5-6: Malaysia defeated Scotland 2-1;

Men’s Placing 7-8: Pakistan defeated Canada 3-1’;

Men’s Placing 9-10: Wales defeated South Africa 3-2;

Women’s Placing 5-6:  Canada defeated South Africa 3-1.

 

Lawn Bowls

Women’s Pairs Finals

GOLD/Silver Medals:  Malaysia defeated South Africa 15-14;

Bronze Medal match:  Scotland defeated Canada 18-10.

Men’s Singles Finals

Semi-Finals: Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Robert Paxton [England] 21-16; Ryan Bester [Canada] defeated Darren Burnett [Scotland] 21-19;

GOLD/Silver Medal:  Aaron Wilson [Australia] defeated Ryan Bester [Canada] 21-14  –  someone suggested that watching Wilson play ‘was worth the price of admission alone’ [an exciting player to watch], in fact the final was a fascinating event to watch. With the result depending on the first bowler to reach a score of 21, Wilson came from behind in the middle period of Ends, took a powerful lead, but then had to withstand a determined fight back by the Canadian, which created an exciting and tense final few ends.  From the 10th to the 22nd Ends, the scores went as follows [with Wilson’s score shown first, in the brackets]  –  10  [6-8], 12 [8-8], 13 [11-8], 14 [14-8]. 15 [16-8], 16 [16-9], 17 [16-10], 18 [18-10], 19 [18-13], 20 [19-13], 21 [19-14], and 22 [21-14] ……………probably not so attractive to some, were the victory celebrations of Wilson, running across the green with his shirt off!!

Bronze Medal:  Robert Paxton [England] defeated Darren Burnett [Scotland] 21-14

Men’s Fours Finals

GOLD/Silver Medals: Scotland [Ronald Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster, Alexandra Marshall]  defeated Australia [Barrie Lester, Brett Wilkie, Nathan Rice, Aron Sherriff]  15-13

Bronze Medal match:  England defeated Wales 15-9;

Men’s Singles Gold Medal Match:  Aaron Wilson [Australia] vs Ryan Bester [Canada]

Men’s Singles Bronze Medal Match: Robert Paxton [England] vs Darren Burnett [Scotland]

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics

The individual apparatus finals were held today, with an Australian girl winning the one bronze medal

Hoop Final

GOLD: Diamanta Evripidou [Cyprus] 14.850;  Silver: Laura Halford [Wales] 14.000; Bronze: Kwam Dict Weng [Malaysia] 13.550.  Australia’s Enid Sung finished in 4th position with 13.400

Ball Final.

GOLD: Diamanta Evripidou [Cyprus] 13.800; Silver: Sei Yan Koi [Malaysia] 13.400; Bronze:  Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva [Australia] 13.250.  Australia’s Danieele Prince finished in 8th position [7.600].

Clubs Final

GOLD: Sophie Crane ;Canada] 13.950;  Silver: Sei Yan Koi [Malaysia] 13.850;  Bronze: Diamanta Evripidou [Cyprus] 13.550.  Australia’s Enid Sung finished 8th [9.850].

Ribbon Final

GOLD: Kwam Dict Weng [Malaysia] 13.200;  Silver: Diamanta Evripidou [Cyprus] 12.900;  Bronze: Sei Yan Koi [Malaysia] 12.000.  Australia’s Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva finished 5th with 11.350, and Enid Sung, 6th [10.200]

 

Rugby Sevens

Women’s Pool matches began this competition today  –

Pool A:  Canada defeated South Africa 29-0;   New Zealand defeated Kenya 45-0;; Canada defeated Kenya 24-12;  New Zealand defeated South Africa 41-0;

Pool B: England defeated Fiji 17-5;   Australia defeated Wales 34-5;  Fiji defeated Wales 29-7;   Australia defeated England 29-12;

 

Shooting

More shooting success at the Belmont Shooting Centre for Australian comptitors.

Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions Finals

GOLD: Tejaswini Sawant [India]   457.9 [GR];  Silver:  AnjumMoudgil [India] 455.7;  Bronze:  Seonaid McIntosh [Scotland] 444.60.  Australia’s Robyn Ridley finished 8th [398.2].  Emma Adams finished in 15th position inj the preliminary round.

Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Finals

A brilliant effort by 15 year old Anish of India with four perfect scores from 8 attempts [and one inexplicable score of 1/5 in his 4th round]. Another success  for an Australian shooter in this event with a silver medal.

GOLD::  Anish [India]   30 [GR]; Silver: Sergei Evgleski [Australia] 28;  Bronze:  Sam Gowin [England] 17.    David Chapman of Australia finished in 4th place with a score of 15.

Women’s Trap Finals.

A great result for Australia’s Laetisha Scanlan, to help celebrate her birthday – a Gold medal. She had initially finished in 6th place at the qualification stage of the event earlier in the day.

GOLD: Laetisha Scanlan [Australia] 38 [GR];  Silver: Kirsty Barr [Northern Ireland] 37; Bronze: Sarah Wixey [Wales] 28.  Catherine Skinner of Australia finished 8th in those preliminaries.

Men’s Trap Qualification, Day 1:

With a big filed of 40 shooters, our two Australian competitors finished in the top five qualified scores  –  Michael Iles-Crevatin, 3rd with a score of 47, and Thomas Grice, 5th with46 pts. The leading score was Brian Galea of Malta, with a Games Record of 48. Qualification Day 2, and the Finals will be held tomorrow.

 

Squash

Doubles quarter-finals dominated today’s program, and results are as follows.

Women’s Doubles Quarter-finals:  New Zealand defeated England[1] 2-0;  India defeated Canada 2-1; England [2] defeated Malaysia 2-1;  Australia [Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart] defeated Wales 2-1 [9-11, 11-10, 11-3];

Men’s Doubles Quarter-finals: England defeated India 2-1; Scotland defeated Malaysia 2-1;  England defeated Australia [1] [Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley] 2-1 [9-11,11-8,11-10];  Australia [2] [Zac Alexander & David Palmer] defeated New Zealand 2-1 [11-9, 6-11, 11-7];

Mixed Doubles Semi-finals: India defeated New Zealand 2-1;  Australia [Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley] defeated England 2-1 [10-11, 11-7, 11-7];

 

Table Tennis

Men’s Doubles Quarter-finals:   India [1] defeated England[1] 3-1; Singapore[1] defeated Nigeria 3-1;  England [2] defeated Singapore[2] 3-2;   India [2] defeated Australia [Heming Hu & Xin Yan] 3-1 [11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8];

Men’s TT6-10 [Para] Singles Semi-finals:  England [Kim Daybell] defeated South Africa [Theo Coghill] 3-2; England [Ross Wilson] defeated Wales [Joshua Stacey] 3-1

Mixed Doubles Quarter-finals: Singapore[1] defeated England[1] 3-0;  India[1] defeated Canada 3-1;  England [2] defeated India [2] 3-1;   India[3] defeated Singapore[2] 3-0

Women’s TT 6-10 [Para] Singles Semi-finals: Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Andrea McDonell [Australia] 3-1 [6-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-1]; and Faith Obazuaye [Nigeria] defeated Felicity Pickard [England]3-0;

Women’s Doubles Semi-finals:  Singapore defeated India[1]  3-0;  and, India[2] defeated Malaysia 3-0;

Men’s Singles Quarter-finals:  Nigeria defeated India[1] 4-0;  India[2] defeated England[1] 4-2; Singapore defeated Canada 4-1;  and  England [2] defeated India[3] 4-0;

Women’s Singles Quarter-final:  Mo Zhang [Canada] defeat Jian Fang Lay [Australia] 4-0 [11-2,11-2,11-2,11-6];

Men’s Doubles Semi-finals:  India[1] defeated Singapore 3-1; and England defeated India[2] 3-0;

Women’s Doubles GOLD/Silver Medal match:  Singapore defeated India[1] 3-0;

Women’s Doubled Bronze Medal match: Malaysia defeated India[2]  3-1.

 

Wrestling

There were medal events completed today.

Men’s Freestyle 65 kg:

For Gold Medal: Balrang [India] defeated Kane Charig [Wales]10-0;

For Bronze medals [2]: Charlie Bowling [England] defeated Jean Guyliane Bandou [Mauritius] 10-0; and Amas Daniel [Nigeria] defeated Vincent de Marinis [Canada] 3-1;

Women’s Freestyle 57 kg

For Gold Medal:  Odunayo Adekuoroye [Nigeria] defeated Pooja Dhandi [India] 7-5;

For Bronze Medal:  Emily Schaefer [Canada] defeated Joseph Essombe Tiako [Cameroon] 13-3;

Women’s Freestyle 68 kg.

For Gold Medal:  Blessing Oborududu [Nigeria] defeated Danielle Lapage [Canada] 4-3

For Bronze Medal: Divya Kakran [India] defeated Sherin Sultana [Bangladesh] 4-0;

Men’s Freestyle  97 kg

For Gold Medal: Martin Erasmus [South Africa] defeated Mausam Khatri [India] 12.2

For Bronze Medals [2]:  Alexios Kaouslidis [Cyprus] defeated Soso Tamarau [Nigeria]  2-1; and Jordan Steen [Canada] defeated Samuel Belkin [New Zealand] 10-0;

Preliminary results with Australian involvement.

Men’s Freestyle 97 kg 1-8 Finals: Nicolaas Verreynne [Australia] defeated Joe Henry [Scotland] 5-0; Quarter-final:  Martin Erasmus [South Africa] defeated Nicolaas Verreynne [Australia] 12-1;  Reperchage Round 2: Samuel Belkin [New Zealand] defeated Nicolaas Verreynne [Australia] 7-3;

Men’s Freestyle 65 kg 1-8 finals:  Vincent de Marinis [Canada] defeated Mehrdad Tarasah [Australia] – 12-1;

 

 

 

 

The 21st Commonwealth Games: Part 7:  14-15 April

 

This is our final report, which covers the last two days of the Games, the weekend of the 14th and 15th April. As indicated at the outset, I have prepared this from an Australian supporters point of view, though hopefully , have also been inclusive of other athletes and nations.

 

Day 9 of competition,  Saturday, 14th April

The penultimate day in the Games – a day of highs and lows for so many of our athletes, and those from other nations, some wonderful sporting  contests.

And a day which this writer enjoyed sharing with Australia’s current greatest racehorse  –  Winx, this afternoon, won her 25th consecutive race ,or as I described it in another venue  –  ‘It’s Winx day again – win no. 25 maybe, in a row, and Group 1 No. 18 – last with 600 to go, yet still gets up, what a horse (even if I backed the 2ND placed Weir horse), magnificent, equals Black Caviar’s record J’

But back to the Commonwealth Games, and as I’ve done on previous days, we will go through the various sports, event by event, beginning with the athletics spectacle.

 

Athletics

Final day on the track today –  with the drama and tension of the men’s and women’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 499 relays being the highlight, with Jamaica, Botswana and Trinidad & Tobago the teams to beat. Another highlight  – the Men’s 1500 metres Final, together with the women’s high jump, and the men’s triple jump & javelin events.

 

Women’s High Jump Final [WR:  2.09]

Two Australians in the start list  – Nicola McDermott and Cassie Purdon – in a starting list of 11 jumpers

Nicola performed very well to finish in 3rd position in this event

GOLD:  Levern Spencer [Saint Lucia]  1.95;  Silver:  Morgan Lake [England]  1.93;  Bronze: Nicola McDermott [Australia] 1.91 [ a personal best jump].Australia’s Cassie Purdon finished in 6th position on 1.84.

 

Men’s Javelin Final [WR:  98.48]

Australia’s representatives were Luke Cann and Hamish Peacock, among 12 starters in the Final. It proved to be another successful outcome for our Australian competitors behind a superior Indian thrower, named, Chopra who left the rest of the field behind very early in the competition, though still well below the existing World and Games records.

GOLD: Neeraj Chopra [India] 86.47; Silver: Hamish Peacock [Australia] 82.59;  Bronze: Anderson Peters [Grenada] 82.20. Australia’s Luke Cann finished in 6th position with a throw of 76.99.

 

Men’s 4 x 100 Metres Relay Final [WR: 36.84: Jamaica]
Australia’s young, and relatively inexperienced relay quartet  –   Trae Williams; Rohan Browning; Jack Hale; Josh Clarke.  Other teams were Barbados, Jamaica, Malaysia, South Africa, England, Nigeria & Sri Lanka.  England have won the event 7 times previously, Jamaica three times, and Australia twice, the most recent in 1974.

A magnificent first three legs by the Aussies with Jack Hale just in front at the last change –  Josh Clarke for the last leg, well he had top class athletes to hold off in that last 100 meetings, couldn’t do it.  Nigeria dropped the baton at the second change, but all other teams got through.

GOLD: England: 38.13 [the team of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Reuben Arthur, Zharnel Hughes, and Richard Kilty];  Silver: South Africa: 37.24; Bronze:  Jamaica: 38.35;  4th: Australia: 38.58;  5th: Barbados: 39.04;  6th: Sri Lanka: 39.08;  7th: Malaysia: 39.37; Nigeria: Disqualified.

 

Women’s 4 x 100 Metres Relay Final

The Australian quarter, a young & enthusiastic team –  Brianna Beahan, Maddie Coates, Riley Day, Melissa Breen – our young team of girls went into this race confident of a good showing against some experienced and strong opposition.

Unfortunately, disaster struck for our girls – with Brianna, Maddie and Riley having run competent legs of the race, and as Riley prepared to pass the baton to our last runner, Melissa Breen appeared to stumble as she moved off, and fell to the track, the Australian’s race was over!!  In the post-race interview with the girls, while disappointed, all seemed fairly up-brat and accepting of the outcome, although I felt for young Riley Day,  who was obviously deeply disappointed [she had been one of the TV network’s promotional ambassadors throughout the Games.

It was later revealed that Australia would have been disqualified in any case, after the lead-off runner, Brianna Beahan ran out of her lane before her exchange with Maddie Coates.  Some lessons for the young team.

However,  the race still had a winner, a very powerful English team again  – Finette Agyapong, Dina Asher-Smith, Anyika Onuora, and Asha Philip – winning the GOLD in 42.46. Silver went to Jamaica [42.52], and Bronze to Nigeria 42.75.  4th was Trinidad & Tobago [43.50], 5th: Ghana [43.64], 6th Cameroon [45.24], while Australia were disqualified, and the Bahamas team did not start.

 

Men’s Triple Jump Final  [WR: 18.29]

This event saw the three medals go to nations that have not figured largely in medal ceremonies throughout the Games, which was great to see.  No Australians featured in the final field of jumpers  [Emmanuel Fakiye had finished 8th in his group with a throw of 15.70, finishing 15th overall in the qualifying rankings].

GOLD:  Troy Doris [Guyana]  16.88;  Silver: Yordanys Duranona Gatcia [Dominica] 16.86;  Bronze: Marcel Mayack II [Cameroon] 16.80.

 

Women’s 5000 Metres Final  [WR:  14.11.15]

Another of the popular events as these competitions, this race attracted a field of 18 starters, including 3 Kenyans, 2 Ugandans and 3 Aussies  –  Celia Sulloherrn, Eloise Wellings [in her 4th Games attempt, having finished in the top 5 placings on each previous occasion] and Madeline Hills. Actually two of the Aussies set out early in the race, basically leading but setting a rather slow pace, which the rest of a tightly packed field accepted – for a while.  With four laps to go,  Celia and Eloise were still running around 3rd and 4th, and with a lap to go, with two Kenyan runners clearly in the lead, the battle was on for the Bronze medal between a tiring Uganda runner, Australia’s gutsy running Celia Sullohern, and the fast finishing English favourite, Laura Weightman, who had been expected to challenge for the medals, and as far as the Bronze was concerned, appeared to have timed her race perfectly. Such was the case – in that last lap, there were two races going on – between the Kenyans for 1st and 2nd, and the afore-mentioned race for Bronze. Weightman proved too strong in the closing stages, but it had been a brave effort by the Australian girl.

GOLD:  Hellen Obiri [Kenya]  15.13.11;  Silver:  Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi [Kenya] 15.15.28;  Bronze:  Laura Weightman [England] 15.25.84.  Australia’s  Celia Sullohern finished 5th in 15.34.73 [9 seconds behind the 3rd placegetter]; Eloise Wellings was 8th in 15.39.02, and Madeline Hills, 10th in 15.46.92.

 

Men’s 1500 metres Final  [WR: 3.26:  El Guerrouj]

Australia’s Ryan Gregson might have felt this was to be his turn, after promising much in recent years, and certainly in this event he went out hard in the early stages. Thre were 12 starters, which included Gregson and two other Australians – Luke Mathews and Jordan Williamsz, together with 3 Kenyans, and 2 Scots.

Over the years we have witnessed many wonderful 1500 metre races at the international level, in particular the efforts over recent years of the current world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj, spectacular to watch, and probably today’s field was likely not up to those standards, though obviously the two Kenyans who finished 1 and 2 today might disagree!!

With a lap to go, one felt that Gregson was in with a show, being well placed near the front, but as he admitted himself afterwards, he just didn’t have the ‘kick’ in that final hectic lap which saw the Kenyans run away with it, those the man from Scotland a real chance for the Silver at one stage.

GOLD:  Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Kenya]  3.34.78;  Silver: Timothy Cheruitot [Kenya] 3.35.17; Bronze:  Jake Wightman [Scotland] 3.35.97.  Australia’s Ryan Gregson fell back in that last lap to finish in 9th position in a time of  3.39.24.  Jordan Williamsz finished strongly to come in 6th in 3.38.34, while Luke Mathews after his Bronze win earlier in the meet, finished 12th [last] in 3.47.04. All three Aussies had run faster times in their career.

 

Women’s 4 x 400 metres Relay Final  [WR: 3.15.17; GR: Jamaica3.23.2]

It was great to have another women’s Australian quartet in this race, a mix of the new and then experienced. The Australian girls in order of running were Anneliese Rubie, Caitlin Sargent-Jones, Lauren Wells and Morgan Mitchell, once again, lining up against strong and experienced teams from Jamaica, Botswana, England, etc.

By the end of the second 400 metres, the Australian team was in 3rd position after good laps from Anneliese and Caitlin, but dropped to around 4th position after the 3rd leg  –  when our Indigenous runner, Morgan took off with the baton. She got up into 3rd position, but was overtaken at the start of the final straight by the athletes from Botawana and England – at which stage, you might have expected her to ‘give it away’, but she stayed with them to the finishing line [perhaps just in case there were disqualifications ahead of her].  Thankfully in this race, all teams got around the course successfully.

GOLD:  Jamaica: 3.24.00;  Siolver: Nigeria:  3.25.29;  Bronze: Botawana: 3.26.86.  4th: England: 3.27.21; 5th: Australia: 3.27.43;  6th: Scotland: 3.29.18;  7th: India: 3.33.61;  8th: Uganda: 3.35.03

 

Men’s 4 x 400 metres Relay Final  [WR: 2.54.29 USA; GR: Jamaica:2.59.03]

We had no Australian team in this race [following that disqualification in the heat], and another relay not without controversey, with  India failing to finished, and the Kenya team disqualified for an incorrect change through the race. Despite that, it was a wonderful vent to finish the track competition with a strong win in the closing stags to the team from Botswana.

GOLD:  Botswana: 3.01.78;  Silver: The Bahamas: 3.01.92; Bronze: Jamaica: 3.01.97;  4th: Trinidad & Tobago: 3.02.85: 5th: Fiji: 3.15.10;  6th: Turks and Caicos Islands: 3.1.39

 

With those relays representing the end of the Track & Field part of the athletics program, I’d like to quote part of a piece which would appear in Sunday’s media, written by Scott Gullan [and headed ‘Performances restore faith in track and field’]………….”Four years ago Australia’s track-and-field was in disarray, with the coach sent home in disgrace, after a shambolic Commonwealth Games. As the curtain fell on the athletics program of the Gold Coast Games last night, with only marathons to come this morning, the status of the team couldn’t be more different. The head coach has a spring in his step, the medal haul has almost doubled, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics can’t come around quickly enough. ‘There is excitement back in our sport again,’ said Craig, ‘We haven’t being this well-placed two years out from an Olympic Games for a long while’………….The quality of the performance is what excites Hilliard. ‘The two biggest things for me is performing when it counts, coming out and actually delivering,’ he said.”

 

Badminton

We had singles and doubles semi-finals in the badminton today, with Australians only participating in two matches.  Results of the day’s matches were as follows.

Women’s Doubles Semi-finals: England [1] defeated Australia [Setyana Mapasa & Granya Somerville] 2-0 [21-15,21-15]; England [2] defeated Malaysia 2-1;

Men’s Doubles Semi-finals: India defeated Sri Lanka  2-0;  England defeated Malaysia 2-1;

Men’s Singles Semi-finals: Srikanth Kidambi [India] defeated Rajiv Ouseph [England] 2-0; Chong Wei Lee [Malaysia] defeated H.S Prannoy [India] 2-1;

Women’s Singles Semi-finals: Saina Nehwal [India] defeated Kirsty Gilmour [Scotland] 2-1;  Venkata Pusarla [India] defeated Michelle Li [Canada] 2-0;

Mixed Doubles Semi-finals:  England [1] defeated Malaysia 2-0;  England [2] defeated India 2-1;

Men’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match: Malaysia defeated  Sri Lanka 2-0;

Women’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match: India defeated Australia [Setyana Mapasa & Granya Somerville] 2-0;

Women’s Singles Bronze Medal Match: Kirsty Gilmour [Scotland] defeated Michelle Li [Canada] 2-0 ;

Men’s Singles Bronze Medal Match:   Rajiv Ouseph [England] defeated H.S Prannoy [India] 2-1;

Mixed Doubles Bronze Medal Match:  Malaysia defeated India 2-0 ,

 

Basketball

Men’s Semi-final Match:  Australia defeated Scotland 103-46 [halftime:28-18];

Men’s Semi-final Match:  Canada defeated New Zealand 88-86,

 

Women’s Bronze Medal Match: New Zealand defeated  Canada 74-58;

Women’s GOLD Medal Match:  Australia defeated England 99-55;

In this match, Australia overcame the shock 2nd quarter ejection of star Liz Cambage to achieve that win. Accortding to one report  “Cambage had a running battle with the whistle-happy referees through the first two quarters when she struck foul trouble, lost her cool, allegedly swore at a referee and was thrown out of the game”.

 

Boxing

It was all about gold medals at the Oxenford Studios today,  with Boxing’s 16 gold medal bouts, a great day’s entertainment, and some reward for an Australian squad that has performed so well with five Australians going for gold medals.

Of particular note, were the wins of Skye Nicholson, who dedicated her win to her brothers Jamie [a Barcelona Olympian and Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist, and 10 year old Gavin, who were killed in a car accident in 1994 – born in 1995, Skye never met her brothers]. Unfortunately, her opponent in the 57 kg bout was not so accepting of the result  –  “I don’t really know how I lost that fight. I don’t even think it was close” she said. “But she’s the face of the Games, and sometimes that’s the way it is”.

Meanwhile, Melbourne plumber Harry Garside caused a huge upset by winning a 3-2 split decision over Indian hot favourite Manish Kaushik in the men’s 60 kg division.  Another brave effort came in the 60 kg Division for women, when Anja Stridsman overcame a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in a fight in Poland last year, to win the Gold in her event.

Two of our gold medal fight entrants were not so lucky, with Jason Whateley [91 kg] and Caitlin Parker [75 kg] both failing but collecting Silver medals for their efforts.

 

Women’s 45-48 kg Final Bout:  McMery Kom [India] defeated Kristine O’Hara [Northern Ireland] 5-0;

Women’s 51 kg Final Bout:  Lisa Whiteside [England] defeated  Carly McNaul [Northern Ireland] 5-0;

Women’s 60kg Final Bout:  Anja Stridesman [Australia] defeated Paige Murney [England] 5-0;

Men’s 46-49 kg Final Bout:  Galal Yadai [England] defeated Amit [India]  3-1;

Men’s 52 kg Final Bout:  Gaurav Solanko [India] defeated Brendan Irvine [Northern Ireland] 4-1;

Men’s 60kg Final Bout:  Harry Garside [Australia] defeated Manish Kaushik [India] 3-2;

Men’s 64 kg Final Bout:  Jonas Jonas [Namibia] defeated Thomas Blumenfeld [Canada] 5-0;

Men’s 91 kg Final Bout:  David Nyaka [New Zealand] defeated Jason Whateley [Australia] 5-0;

Women’s 57 kg Final Bout: Skye Nicholson [Australia] defeated Michaela Walsh [Northern Ireland] 3-2;

Women’s 69 kg Final Bout: Sandy Ryan [England] defeated Rosie Eccles [Wales] 3-2;

Women’s 75 kg Final Bout:  Lauren Price [Wales] defeated Caitlin Parker [Australia] 4-1;

Men’s 56 kg Final Bout:  Peter McGrail [England] defeated Kurt Walker [Northern Ireland] 4-1;

Men’s 69 kg Final Bout:  Pat McCormack [England] defeated Aiden Walsh [Northern Ireland] 5-0;

Men’s 75 kg Final Bout:  Vikas Krishan [India] defeated Dieudonne Wilfried Seyintsengue [Cameroon] 5-0;

Men’s 81 kg Final Bout: Sammy Lee [Wales] defeated Ato Plodzicki-Floagali [Samoa] 5-0;

Men’s +91 kg Final Bout:  Frazer Clarke [England] defeated Satish Kumar [India] 5-0;

 

 Cycling, Road Races

Starting and finishing at the stunning Currumbin Beachfront, today’s Cycling Road Races took cycling action to the streets once again, and it turned out to be a beautiful omen for the Australian cyclists.

It would prove to be another brilliant day on the bikes for our Australian riders in both vents. Although, as the winner of the women’s event noted,  “I wish all six girls could have it [gold] on their CV. Road cycling is such a cruel sport in that sense, and I wouldn’t have won today without those girls, and I’m so grateful”,

Anyway, we’ll take the victories, as recorded below, for both our Men and Women on this occasion

Women’s Road Race

There were 48 starters, of whom  33 managed to finish the course.

GOLD:  Chloe Hosking [Australia] 3.02.18, won the race in a group sprint to the finish, hence the same times given to the first five finishers;  Silver: Georgia Williams [New Zealand]  3.02.18; Bronze: Danielle Rowe [Wales]. Australia’s other competitors, who assisted in Chloe’s win as a team, were Sarah Roy finished 5th [3.02.18], Tiffany Cromwell was 6th in 3.02.21;  Katrin Garfoot, 13th, in 3.02.47.; Gracie Elvin, 22nd in 3.03.32;  and Shannon Malseed, 24th in 3.05.40

Chloe was apparently told seven months ago that she wasn’t good enough to represent Australia at theworld championships. She is only the fourth Australian woman to have won the road race

Men’s Road Race

Another inspirational ride by an Australian cyclist to pick up the double Gold this morning, another tight sprint finish, so typical of these long distance bike races. There were 50 competitors who completed the course, of the 115 cyclists who actually began the race, a massive drop-out rate.

GOLD: Steele Von Hoff [Australia] 3.57.01;  Silver: Jonathan Mould [Wales]  3.57.01;  Bronze: Clint Hendriks [South Africa] 3.57.01. Australia’s other competitors and team members were Cameron Meyer, 9th [3.57.01], Mathew Hayman, 25th [3.58.07], Mitchell Docker, 43rd [3.59.39]; Alexander Edmondson, 46th, [4.06.36]. Callum Scotson, 47th [4.06.36],    This was an especially courageous win for Steel, who won it just seven weeks after breaking six vertebrae in his neck and back.

 

Diving

Two medal events to complete the diving competition, which again saw medal successes to the Australian divers, shared over the two events, with Maddison Keeney so close to the winning score in her event.

Women’s 3 Metre Springboard Final

GOLD: Jennifer Abel [Canada] 366.95;  Silver:  Maddison Keeney [Australia]  366.55;  Bronze:  Annabelle Smith [Australia] 336.90. Australia’s Esther Qin who had qualified in first place for the final, finished in 5th position with 294.60.

Men’s 10 Metre Platform Final

We saw winning dives in this event to Dominic Bedggood in this final event of the competition.

GOLD:  Dominic Bedggood [Australia]  451.15;  Silver:  Matthew Dixon [England] 449.55;  Bronze:  Vincent Riendieu [Canada] 425.40.  Australia’s Declan Stacey finished 7th with 393.20, and Matthew Barnard, was 10th, 350.35

 

Hockey

Well I guess Australian hocley enthusiasts would have been anticipating two Gold Medals today, but certainly in the women’s event, our neighbours across the ditch had different ideas, with a New Zealand team dominant for much of the match for Gold and Silver against the Hockeyroos.

Women’s Bronze Medal Match: England defeated India  6-0;

Women’s GOLD Medal Match:   New Zealand defeated Australia  4-1  [Halftime 1-0]

In the men’s competition, the Kookaburras were able to reverse that result with a convincing win in this evening’s Gold Medal match.  Quarter by quarter scores in that game were:  Australia/New Zealand: 0-0; 2-0,2-0,2-0

Men’s Bronze Medal Match: England defeated  India 2-1;

Men’s GOLD Medal Match: Australia defeated New Zealand 2-0

This men’s match was the last game for Australian captain, Mark Knowles [the Australian flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony], after an admirable career with the Kookaburras. He commented before the game, that he didn’t want a win for himself [in his last game before retirement] but for those team members who had not experienced such a win.  This win would be Australia’s 6th successive Gold Medal in the Commonwealth Games Men’s Hocky competition.

 

Netball

There were the two semi-final matches played today, which included a dramatic last second win by England over Jamaica [the expected finalists] and followed by emotional scenes of joy by the English team members and supporters.  Today’s results wrre:

Women’s Semi-final Match:  England defeated Jamaica  5-55;

Women’s Semi-final Match:  Australia defeated New Zealand 65-44.

 

Rugby Sevens

Preliminary matches continued throughout the day, with the Australian teams having a share of successs.

Men: Pool A: Scotland defeated PNG 27-0;  South Africa defeated Malaysia 43-0; Scotland defeated Malaysia 41-0;  South Africa defeated PNG 52-0;  PNG defeated Malaysia 31-5; South Africa defeated Scotland 2-5;

Men: Pool B: Australia defeated Samoa 24-7;  England defeated Jamaica 38-5; Australia defeated Jamaica 32-5; England defeated Samoa 32-0;  Damoa defeated Jamaica 36-7;

Men, Pool C:  Kenya defeated Canada 26-10; New Zealand defeated Zambia 54-0;  Canada defeated Zambia 47-0;  New Zealand defeated Kenya 40-7;  Kenya defeated Zambia 47-0;  New Zealand defeated Canada 33-7;

Men Pool D:  Wales defeated Uganda 31-5; Fiji defeated Sri Lanka 53-5;    Wales defeated Sri Lanka 42-12;  Fiji defeated Uganda 53-0; Uganda defeated Sri Lanka 33-10; Fiji defeated Wales 21-17;

Women’s Pool A:    Kenya defeated South Africa 19-10;  New Zealand defeated Canada 24-7;

Women’s Pool B:  England defeated Wales 45-0;  Australia defeated Fiji 17-10

 

Shooting

Three finals held to end the shooting competition today, with one minor medal going to an Aussie shooter.

Queen’s Prize Individual Finals Day 3 [GR: 401.42v]

GOLD:  David Luckman [England]  404.49v;  Silver:  Jim Bailey [Australia]403.50v;  Bronze:  Patag Patel [England] 403.45v.  Australia’s Ben Emms finished in 9th position with 399.48v;

Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions Final 

GOLD: Sanjeev Rajput [India]  454.5 [GR];  Silver:  Grzegorz Sych [Canada] 448.4;  Bronze:  Dean Bale [England] 441.2. Australia’s Dane Sampson finished in 7th position on 397.1.  William Godwood, in the preliminary round, finished in 12th position, and did not proceed to the final.

Men’s Trap Finals

GOLD:  Michael Wixey [Wales]  46;  Silver: Aaron Heading [England] 43;  Bronze:  Brian Galea [Malta]  36. Australia’s Michael Iles-Crevatin finished in 5th position on a score of 22.

 

Squash

Today’s finals saw a Gold medal winning Australian duo in the Mixed Doubles competition, a wonderful effort.  Today’s results were as follows, with two other Australian pairs in line for medal matches tomorrow

Men’s Doubles Semi-finals:

England [1] defeated England [2] 2-1;   Australia [Zac Alexander & David Palmer] defeated Scotland 2-0 [11-8,11-5];

Women’s Doubles semi-finals:

India defeated England 2-0;  New Zealand defeated Australia [Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart] 2-0 [11-9,11-5];

Mixed Doubles Bronze Medak Match

New Zealand [Joelle King & Paul Coll]  defeated England [Alison Waters & Daryl Selby] 2-0 [11-6,11-6];

Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Match:

AUSTRALIA  [Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley] defeated India [Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal]  2-0 [11-8,11-10]

 

Table Tennis

Mixed Doubles Semi-finals:  Singapore defeated India[1]  3-2; and,  England defeated India [2] 3-2;

Women’s Singles Semi-finals:  Manika Batra [India] defeated Tianwei Feng [Singapore] 4-3; and Mengyu Yu [Singapore] defeated Mo Zhang [Canada] 4-1;

Women’s Singles Bronze Medal Match

Tianwei Feng [Singapore] defeated Mo Zhang [Canada] 4-2 [11-2,11-7,5-11,8-11,11-7,11-3]

Women’s Singles Gold Medal Match

Mamika Batra [India] defeated Mengyu Yu [Singapore] 4-0 [11-7,11-6,11-2,11-7]

Women’s TT 6-19\0 {para] Singles Bronze Medal Match:

Andrea McDonnell [Australia] defeated Felicity Pickard [England] 3-0 [11-2,11-6,11-3];

Women’s TT 6-10 [Para] Singles Gold Medal Match:

Melissa Tapper [Australia] defeated Faith Obazuaye [Nigeria] 3-1  [7-1,11-2,11-6,11-3];

Men’s TT 6-10 [Para] Singles Bronze Medal Match

Joshua Stacey [Wales] defeated Theo Coghill [South Africa] 3-2;

Men’s TT 6-10 [Para] Singles Gold Medal Match

Ross Wilson [England] defeated Kim Daybell [England]  3-1

Men’s Singles Semi-finals:  Quadri Aruna [Nigeria] defeated Sharath Achanta [India] 4-0; and Ning Gao [Singapore] defeated Samuel Walker [England] 4-0’

Men’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match

India [Harmeet Desai & Shanil Sankar Shetty] defeated Singapore [Yew On Koen Pang & Shao Feng Ethan Poh] 3-0 [ 11-5, 11-6,12-10]

Men’s Doubles Gold Medal Match:

England [Paul Drinkhall & Liam Pitchford] defeated India [Sharath Achanta & Sathiyan Gnanasekaran]  3-2 [11-5,12-10,11-9,6-11,8-11]

 

Wrestling

It was the final day of the Wrestling competition, with one medal event and a number of other preliminary, a couple of which involved Australian wrestlers.

Men’s Freestyle 86 kg 1/8 Final:  Mahammad Inam [Pakistan] defeated Jayden Lawrence [Australia] 14-4;

Men’s Freestyle 86 kg Repechage Round 2:   Somveer [India] defeated Jayden Lawrence [Australia] 7-0;

Men’s Freestyle, 86 kg Bronze Finals [2]:  Syerus Eslami [England] defeated David Conteh [Sierra Leone] 11-0;  and, Somveer [India] defeated Alexander Moore [Canada] 7-3;

Men’s Freestyle 86 kg Gold Final:  Muhammad Iman [Pakistan] defeated Melvin Bibo [Nigeria]  6-0

Women’s Freestyle 50 kg Nordic:  Jessica McDpnald [Canada] defeated Repinder Kaur [Australia] 10-0;  Vinesh Binesh [India] defeated Repinder Kaur [Australia] 10-0;  Miesinnei Genesis [Nigeria] defeated Repinder Kaur [Australia] 10-0;

 

 

 

Day 10 of competition,  Sunday, 15th April

While it may have been the  final day of the Commonwealth Games,  there was still plenty of action before the Cllosing Ceremony.  There were17 gold medals up for grabs across seven sports on the last day of the GC2018 competition  –  Athletics: 4 | Badminton: 5 | Basketball: 1 | Netball: 1 | Rugby Sevens: 2 | Squash: 2 | Table Tennis: 2

The Marathon, Basketball, Netball and Rugby Sevens taking centre stage. In the Netball, the final will see England take on Australia, after that winning goal in the final second of a thrilling semi-final against Jamaica yesterday.

 

Sunday’s men’s T54 Marathon was to be the final time GC2018 Ambassador Kurt Fearnley will compete in the green and gold and on home soil.

 

Athletics

Men’s T54 [Para] Marathon Final 

Our inspirational wheelchair bound athlete, Kurt Fearnley clearly led this race for its duration, it being his last run in the ‘green and gold’ colours for Australia.   The race [which began with nine competitors] for the two minor medals was between three runners, also for a large part of the race, which sadly one of them was going to miss out on a medal  –  the closeness of their race indicated by the fact that the time for 2nd to 4th  was recorded at the same time.

GOLD: Kurt Fearnley [Australia]  1.30.26 [Games Record]

Silver: John Smith [England] 1.31.44; Silver:  Simon Lawson [England]  1.31.44;  4rh: Tristan Smyth [Canada] 1.31.44. Australia’s Jake Lappin finished in 6th 1.37.34.

Women’s T54 [Para] Marathon Final 

Completing the ‘golden’ start to a early Sunday morning [the men’s T54 event had begun at 6am on the Gold Coast],  our women para athletes in the Marathon completed the Quinella in this event, which began a short time after the men’s event, which only had the 7 starters, including the two Australians.

GOLD: Madison de Rozario [Australia] 1.44.00;  Silver:  Eliza Ault-Connell [Australia] 1.44.13;  Bronze: Jade Jones [England] 1.44.20.

Women’s Marathon Final  [WR: 2.17.01; GR: Lisa Martin, Australia: 2.25.28]

There were three Australian girls in this event of 17 competitors –  Lisa Weightman, Jessica Trengove and Virginia Maloney.

GOLD:  Helalia Johannes [Namibia]  2.32.40;  Silver: Lisa Weightman [Australia] 2.33.23;  Bronze:  Jessica Trengove [Australia] 2.34.09. Australia’s Virginia Maloney finished in 16th position in 2.58.54.

Lisa Weightman – ‘I can’t be disappointed, I came here to win gold, but I got silver, I’m very happy’ [and exhausted, as she came over the line] – ‘can’t be sad about a silver medal.

 

Men’s Marathon Final   [WR:   2.02.57; GR: 2.09.12]

The Men’s Marathon saw a perhaps unexpected win to one of our Australian competitors, which for the morning’s efforts over the four marathons gave Australia a very encouraging haul of 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze.   There were 24 starters for the race, of whom 7 did not complete the course..

Mind you, the win in this final event came at a considerable cost to one of the Scottish runners. Callum Hawkins had a clear lead in the marathon with just a few kilometres to go – when he obviously appeared to be struggling, before collapsing on the roadside. He would get up after a minute or so, and struggle onwards, though clearly unsteady and staggering from time to time.  I must admit that scene when he fell a second time , virtually into the fence barrier before collapsing onto the roadside again, left us viewers feeling quite distressed [not just the commentators and crowd at the scene and end of the race, as all this was being projected onto the main screens there – and distressing for his family and friends watching in Scotland  –  particularly so because it would be almost 5 minutes if not more, before any kind of assistance, let alone medical assistance was offered to him.  I understand that under the rules that if help was offered he would automatically be considered out of the race, and presumably he was conscious enough to refuse any offers of help. However, I was personally offended to see spectators leaning over the fence to take photos on their phones!!  Irrespective of the rules, and judging by the state he was in [unable to stand up for example] I felt that any decision about receiving assistance should have been taken out of his hands, and provided much more quickly than it eventually was.

Nevertheless, the marathon continued, and eventuated in a Gold medal to the Australian who had been some distance behind Hawkins when he collapsed.

GOLD: Michael Shelley [Australia] 2.16.46;  Silver:  Munyo Solomon Mutai [Uganda] 2.19.02;  Bronze:  2.19.36.  Australia’s Liam Adams finished in 5th position [2.21.08].

 

 

 

Badminton

Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Match

Gabrielle & Chris Adcock [England] defeated Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith {England] 2-1 [19-21,21-17,21-16]

Women’s Singles Gold Medal Match

Saina Newell [India] defeated Venkarta Pursala [India] 2-0 [21-18,23-21]

Men’s Singles Gold Medal Match

Chong Wei Lee [Malaysia] defeated Srikanth Kidambi [India] 2-1 [19-21,21-14,21-14]

Women’s Doubles Gold Medal Match

Mei Kuan Chow & Vivian Hoo [Malaysia] defeated Lauren Smith & Sarah Walker [England] 2-0 [21-12,21-12]

Men’s Doubles Gold Medal Match

Marcus Ellis & Chris Langridge [England] defeated Satwik Rankreddy & Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty [India] 2-0 [21-13,21-16].

 

Basketball

A success in the Basketball competition for Australia’s team – the ‘Boomers’, following on from the women’s team victory last night, and much savoured by supporters. This would make up for a couple of  ‘team’ defeats later in the afternoon. Prior to the match, the team felt that ‘Australia’s date with destiny had arrived’.

Men’s Bronze Medal Game

New Zealand defeated Scotland 79-69

Men’s Gold Medal Game

Australia defeated Canada 87-47

Despite the loss, Canada are essentially a young team, and their performance throughout the tournament showed potential of future success. Their score today was their lowest for the competition.

The quarter by quarter scores in this match were [Australia/Canada] – 20-10,  45-19,  63-29, 87-47]

 

Netball

The Australian ‘Diamonds’ netball team went into today’s gold medal match as red hot favourites. Yesterday, England had ‘scraped’ into the final after a thrilling one point win semi-final win, and really had nothing to lose in this game. England had never played in a Commonwealth Games Gold medal match, and were really not expected to win today. But nobody counted on the value of team’s enthusiasm and ‘never lie down’ attitude.. As with their victory on the final siren yesterday, England would win the Gold Medal match with a penalty shot at goal as the final second ticked over to end the match.   Unlike last night’s losing Canadian team in the Women’s basketball final [who seemed quite happy with their Silver medal] I think the Diamonds were as excited about that fact today]as a very disappointed team left the court prior to the medal ceremonies. As for the English, who could begrudge their spectacular performances over the past week or so.

Women’s Bronze Medal Match

Jamaica defeated New Zealand 60-55

Women’s Gold Medal Match

England defeated Australia 52-51………………As the quarter by quarter scores indicate, there was very little between the two teams throughout the game, and whenever Australia got away to a lad of 3-4 points, the  English ‘Roses’ came back at them.  England/Australia:  13-14, 25-25, 36-38, 52-51

 

Rugby Sevens

This was yet another disappointing team loss for Australian women,  and while a win could not have been considered a clear outcome, the Australian girls, following their Gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, could have been considered favourites.

The Gold medal match was forced into extra time through an unusual and inexplicable error of judgement by one of the Australian players, when the Aussies had control of the ball at the end of the match with scores level, when she kicked the ball into touch [presumably wrongly thinking that Australia was in front]. In any case, that caused extra time to be played, with a sudden death outcome – first score wins the match, which New Zealand managed to achieve,

There were numerous errors by both teams in that extra time, sadly for the Aussies, they made one too many.  The results of today’s final matches were as follows.

Women’s Placings 5-8:  Fiji defeated South Africa 40-12;  Kenya defeated Wales 14-12;

Men’s Placings 5-8:  Australia defeated Kenya 33-5;  Scotland defeated Wales 19-12;

Women’s Semi-finals: Australia defeated 33-7;  New Zealand defeated England 26-5;

Men’s Semi-finals:  New Zealand defeated England 17-12;  and, Fiji defeated South Africa 24-19;

Women’s Placing 7-8: Wales defeated South Africa 17-14;

Women’s Placing 5-6;  Fiji dfeated Kenya 40-5;

Men’s Placing 7-8: Wales defeated Kenya 28-24;

Men’s Placing 5-6;  Australia defeated Scotland 26-0

 

Women’s Bronze Medal Match:  England defeated Canada 24-19

Men’s Bronze Medal Match: England defeated South Africa 21-14

Women’s Gold Medal Match:  Australia vs New Zealand defeated Australia 17.12 [leading 12-0 at half-time, and 12-12 at normal full-time]

Men’s Gold Medal Match: New Zealand defeated Fiji 14-0

 

 

Squash

Final day of the Squash  – and  a women’s Bronze medal, and a men’s Gold in the doubles finals

Women’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match:

Australia [Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart] defeated [England] Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry] 2-0 [11-6,11-8]

Women’ Doubles GOLD Medal Match: 

New Zealand [Joelle King & Amanda Sanders-Murphy] defeated India [Joshna Chinappa & Dipija Pallikal Karthik]  2-0 [ 11-9,11-8]

Men’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match:

England [Declan James & James Willstrop] defeated Alan Clyne & Greg Lobbab [Scotland] 2-0 [11-9,11-9];

Men’s GOLD Medal Match:

Australia [Zac Alexander & David Palmer] defeated England [Darryl Selby & Adrian Waller] 2-1 [11-9,3-11,11-6].

 

Table Tennis

The Mixed Doubles, and Men’s Singles finals completed the table tennis competition today.

Mixed Doubles Bronze Medal Match

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran & Manika Batra [India] defeated Charath Ashanta & Mourna Das [India] 3-0 [11-6,11-2,11-4];

Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Match:

Ning Gao & Mengyu Yu [Singapore] defeated Liam Pitchford & Tin-Tin Ho [England] 3-0 [12-10,12-10,11-9]

Men’s Singles Bronze Medal Match

Sharath Achanta [India] defeated Samuel Walker [England] 4-1 [11-7,11-9,9-11-6,12-10]

Men’s Singles Gold Medal Match

Ning Gao [Singapore] defeat Quadri Aruna [Nigeria]  4-2  [ 11-7,11-8,5-11,3-11,11-9,11-5]

 

And that is it:  all that is to follow is the Closing Ceremony [which turned out to be a disappointment, even to the TV network], but I might leave that to others to summarise! [other than that it was great that Archie Roach performed!!]!

Except, maybe a brief look at  the final medal tally of the top five countries – I haven’t referred to the medal tally very much  throughout this project, although the media [and the TV commentary] continue to place far too much emphasise on that aspect  – to myself, the important aspect is the individual and team performances throughout the Games, and while I have concentrated, without apology, on reporting from an Australian point of view, I have tried to compile results from all participating athletes, especially in relation to ‘Finals’.

As for the Medal Tally [top 10 countries, with apologies to those below 10]

 

GOLD:  SILVER: BRONZE:              [TOTAL]]

AUSTRALIA:                            80            59             59                        198

ENGLAND                              45            45             46                        136

INDIA                                       26           20              20                         66

CANADA                                  15           40              27                         82

NEW ZEALAND                      15           16             15                         46

SOUTH AFRICA                      13            11             13                         37

WALES                                      10           12              14                        36

SCOTLAND                               9            13              22                        44

NIGERIA                                   9              9               6                         24

CYPRUS                                     8              1               5                         14

The Following countries also won Gold Medals  –  Jamaica 7; Malaysia 7; Singapore 5;  Kenya 4;  Uganda, Botswana [3 each]; Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Namibia [2 each]; The Bahamas, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Pakistan, Grenada, Bermuda, Guyuna, British Virgin Islands, Saint Lucia [ 1 each]

 

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THE WORLD ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017  –  FROM AN AUSTRALIAN {CURRENT} PERSPECTIVE

In London over the past week or so, we have seen the World Athletics Championships in Track and Field conducted.   Now in Australia generally, there is not an abundance of interest in athletics, except maybe around the times of the Olympic or Commonwealth Games, when some of us suddenly realise there are athletes competing for Australia, who in the main, we hear little of in-between those events!  Hence the purpose of this article, which aims to at least bring to the attention of readers [here in Australia at the very least] some of the names which are likely to appear on our radars in April. 2018, at the Gold Coast, where the next Commonwealth Games are to be held.

The 2017 IAAF World Championships was the 16th edition of this event, held from 4 to 13 August 2017 in London, United Kingdom,  that city being officially awarded the Championships by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), in Monaco, on 11 November 2011  The championships were held in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London  [where the 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted], a stadium which has a capacity of 60,000.  Even the earlier sessions of the 10 day event saw the stadium almost filled to capacity, sadly something that would not occur consistently here, except on those occasions when special individual events were taking place, for example,  the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted some huge crowds on most days of  the 2006 Commonwealth Games athletic events that year. Similarly, in Sydney at the 2000 Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium was often at capacity, though admittedly at those times, Australia had a more successful team of athletes than has been the case recently, and, as it turned out, on this occasion..

For the London event, Australia had a relatively small team of competitors, and while over the ten days, they did not, with a couple of exceptions, achieve any significant results [apart from two significant results, and personal improvements which is never a bad thing],  I intend to highlight their individual performances, good or bad, and basically introduce their names to my readers, hopefully to generate some interest in those Australian athletes likely to be  participating at the Gold Coast next year.  I have basically gone through the program in chronological order. A full listing of the Medal results has been placed at the end of the narrative.

Day One  –  Friday 4 August

The program  this afternoon,  included one Medal event, and it was great see a capacity crowd at the London stadium for what was essentially a two and half hour session covering three Field events, two Track event heats, and the Men’s 10,000 metres Final.

In the men’s Long Jump qualifying round, Australia had two competitors –  Henry Frayne, who finished in 14th position with a jump of 7.88 metres, and Fabrice Lapierre, who qualified for the Final, in 12th position, with a jump of  7.91 metres. Fabrice jumped conservatively, which possibly cost him some distance. The best qualifying jump was  8.24 by Radek Juska of the Czech Republic.

The Men’s Discus qualifying round saw Australia  represented by Ben Harradine [finished in 21st position with a throw of 60.95 metres] and Mitchell Cooper [28th with 57.26 metres]. Neither progressed to the Final [held on Day 2 with the Long Jump],  Sweden’s Daniel Stahl had the best qualifying throw with a distance of 67.64 metres].

The Women’s Pole Vault qualifying saw Australia’s Liz Parnov vault 4.35 metres to finish in 15th place, which meant she’d not progress any further. The leading vault was 4.55 metres by Sandi Morris of the USA, that Final to be held on Sunday night.

In the Women’s 1500 metres, three  Heats were conducted, and we had three girls attempting [unsuccessfully]  to qualify for the next round.  Zoe Buckman finished 9th in Heat 1 [in 4.05.44] and 17th position overall [she qualified for the semi-finals].  Georgia Griffith finished 11th in Heat 3 [4.08.99] and 27th overall. Linden Hall came 9th in Heat 2  [4.10.51] and was 33rd overall.  The fastest Heat time was 4.02.62 by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba.

The first round of the Men’s 100 metres took place during this session. There were no Australian competitors. The fastest qualifier from the heats  –  Julian Forte [Jamaica] in 9.99 secs. Usain Bolt, ran 10.07 secs in winning his heat but a number of others bettered that time. The semi-finals and Final were scheduled for Saturday night.

The Men’s 10,000 metres Final was for this writer, the highlight of the session. Of the 24 starters, 21 of them had been born in Africa, though some of them now run for other nations. Australia’s representative was Patrick Tiernan. The field included the legendary Mo Farah [now competing for Great Britain, and quite clearly, the crowd favourite and hero], a truly amazing athlete.  IN the early stages of the race, Patrick stayed close to Farah who was content to remain near the rear of the field and was in no ‘hurry’ or concerned about moving up to the leaders. It was only with about 16 laps of the 25 lap race to go, and the Kenyans and Ugandan runners setting the pace, that we see Farah begin to make his move towards the leading group, ‘show-boating’ a little as he waves to the crowd [also did that in the first lap]. He was still in 12th position at the 5000 metre stage, and it was here that Patrick Tiernan lost touch with Farah, and the field in general. At 6000 metres, Farah is in 6th position as the East African runners continue to alternate the lead. by now Patrick, while at the front of the second group of runners, is well behind the leaders, and in fact, with two laps to go, and Farah having taken the lead in the race, after alternating between 1st and 3rd for a few laps, Patrick is lapped by Farah.

Here we see the example of the ‘true athlete’  as after running almost 10 kilometres, four African born competitors, sprint for the last 150 metres, but in the end it is a commanding performance by Britain’s Mo Farah to win in a time of 26.49.51 from Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda. The next eight placings went to Kenya, Kenya, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Canada, USA and Ethiopia [all African born]..

Day Two  –  Saturday 5 August

Two sessions today – a morning session, followed by an afternoon/evening session.

The Women’s Heptathlon event commenced today – a multiple event which sees the ladies compete for points over two days and seven events. Sadly, no Australian girls apparently met the standard to compete on this occasion though we have had Heptathlon success in the past.

The seven disciplines in this event are the 100 metres Hurdles, the High Jump, Shot Put, 200 metres [today’s events], and  the Long Jump, Javelin throw and the 800 metres. Points are allocated on the basis of times, distances, etc.  At the end of the first day’s competition, with 31 original starters, the leader was Carolin Schafer [Germany] on 4036 points, followed by Nafissatou Thiam [Belgium] on 4014 points, Yorgelis Rodriguez [3905 points] and Katarina Johnson-Thompson [Great Britain] 3838 points. Thiam is the current Olympic champion in this event.

The Men’s Shot Put qualifying rounds saw the appearance of Damien Birkenhead for Australia, He would finish 20th overall with a throw of 19.90 metres, and not qualify for the final.The best qualifying throw was by New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh with 22.14 metres. That final was on Sunday.

The Women’s Hammer-throw qualifying – no Australian competitor, and the best qualifying throw was by Malwina Kopron [Poland] 74.97 metres,

The Men’s 400 Metres had four heats today  – Stevin Solomon of Australia ran in Heat 2, he finished 7th in 46.27 secs, and was placed 38th overall in the event. The fastest heat time was by Isaac Makwala of Botswana in 44.55 secs. The semi-finals took place on Sunday.

The Women’s Triple Jump qualifying – again. No Australian representative –  the day’s best jump was by Olga Rypakova [Kaz] of 14.57 metres.

The Women’s 100 metre Heats  –  no Australian women sprinters [very sad]  – the fastest qualifying time was by Germany’s Gina Luckenkemper in 10.95 secs.  The final to be run on Sunday evening.

Men’s 800 metre heats followed, with the best 24 runners to proceed   –  Australia represented by Peter Bol in Heat 4. He finished in 7th position, in a time of 1.49.65, and eventually classified into 38th position overall. The fastest qualifying 800 metres was by Thijmen Kupers [Nederlands] in 1.45.53.

The Women’s 1500 metres semi-finals saw Australia’s Zoe Buckman run in the first heat where she finished 8th in 4.05.93, an overall position of 14th in the event.

The Men’s Discus Final saw the Gold Medal go to Andrius Gudzuis [Lithuania] with a throw of 69.21 metres, from Daniel Stahl [Sweden] and Mason Finlay [USA].

The Men’s Long Jump Final saw Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre finish with a jump of 7.93 metres in 11th position.  The event was won by Luva Manyonga [Rep of Sth Africa]  with a leap of 8.48 metres, from  Jarrion Lawson [USA] and Ruswahl Samaai [RSA].

The Women’s 10,000 Metres Final proved to be another outstanding long distance race, and again, with African born athletes dominating proceedings. Due to the television cameras concentrating on the Men’s Long Jump and Discus events, we didn’t see a great deal of this race until the latter stages.

We had two Australian girls competing amongst the 33 starters  – Eloise Wellings [finished in 22nd position in 32.26.31] and Madeleine Hills [finished 26th in 32.48.57] – must admit that we didn’t see much of either of the girls, until they were lapped by the eventual winner!!  That winner was Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia [who was also the current Olympic Games titleholder] – she would go the lead quite early in the race [a sharp contrast to the Men’s event], and by the last third of the race, was literally destroying the rest of the field as she began to lap other runners, running an average of 69 seconds a lap, or 3.05 mins per kilometre. Simply commanding, in a class of her own, an unbelievable performance, even sprinting over the final 100 metres or so to win by over 300 metres, another lap and she would most likely have lapped the 2nd and 3rd place-getters [Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, and Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya]. A pure example of ‘front running’ at it’s very best for the bulk of the race.

The Men’s 100 Metres Final followed, after earlier in the day, we’d witnessed the semi-finals of that event. The fast semi-final time had been recorded by Christian Coleman [USA} in 9.97 secs, ahead of Usain Bolt [Jamaica] in 9.98 secs. Justin Gatlin of the USA was 6th fastest in 10.09 secs.

The Final was a different story. This was to be Bolt’s last individual race. Writing from London before the finals, Scott Gullan said  “Scary is probably the best way to describe life without Usain Bolt. For almost a decade he’s been athletics’  safety blanket. The shadow of doping has loomed over the sport’s most famous event, the 100 metres, in particular, ever since a steroid-fuelled Ben Johnson burnt up the track in Seoul in 1988.Britain’s Linford Christie was Olympic champion four years later, but he too would get busted for drugs. Then in 2004 American Justin Gatlin won in Athens and two years later was kicked out of the sport for his second doping infringement – only to return four years later after his ban was halved. At the 2007 world championships Tyson Gay won the sprint double – beating Bolt in the 200 metres – and six years later was banned for taking steroids. But then bolt emerged and saved everything………………….After all the scandals, which continued with Russia banned from the Rio Olympics, how could anyone watch track and field …and think it was clean? Well, they did still watch and in a large part it was because of Bolt. They like him and trusted him, so when he shrugged off Gatlin’s challenge for his titles, everyone felt warm and fuzzy again……”

Well, on each appearance at these London championships, Gatlin was roundly booed by the crowd [partially I believe he never showed any contrition for ‘crimes’ committed], while Bolt, as he had been for years, was lauded as the crowd’s favourite and a sure winner today.

Usain Bolt didn’t win  –  in a shock outcome, the Men’s 100 Metres Final saw Bolt beaten into 3rd place by his two American rivals in the race  –  won by none other than Justin Gatlin [9.92 secs] from Christian Coleman [93.94 secs] and Usain Bolt [9.95 secs]. As some of the headlines in the following day’s media would highlight –  Bolt bows out as drug cheat upsets Usain’s fairytale ending  – or as Scott Gullan again puts it –  “It doesn’t get much worse than his. The greatest athlete the world has seen not only fails to win his final race but is beaten by a two-time drug cheat who epitomises everything that is bad with track and field”.  From a more competitive practical point of view  –  Scott also writes  –  “Finally Usain made to pay for slow start….Usain Bolt has been a poor starter for all of his career but through freak natural ability has managed tro deal with it. That was until his final race…”

After the race, as to be expected, Usain Bolt was gracious in defeat, and Gatlin knelt down in front of the champion to acknowledge his greatness.

 Day Three  –  Sunday 6 August

The Men’s 3000 metres Steeplechase began today’s program began with three heats, 47 athletes in total, including Australia’s Stewart McSweyn.  The first three in each heat automatically qualified, with the next fastest up to a total of 15 in the final.  McSweyn ran in the 3rd heat [of 15 runners] –  not a promising  start which saw him at the rear of the field, where he would basically remain for most of the race, until the last 100 metres when a determined effort to at least beat one runner home as successful –  he finished in 14th position ion a time of  8.47.53.  The fastest qualifier for the final was Evan Jager [USA] in 8.20.36

The Women’s Heptathlon concluded today, with the last three of the seven scheduled disciplines – today, the Long Jump, Javelin Throw, and finally, the 800 metres [which was the third last event on the Day  3 program] – the 800 metres was  conducted over three heats, with the lower ranked performers up until that stage competing in the first heat, the middle ranked girls second up, while the medal chances ran in the third heat.

I think of all athletes [track and field], one should particularly admire those men and women who compete in these multiple discipline events, i.e, the Heptathlon for the ladies, and the 10 discipline Decathlon event for the men. While most of these competitors would not have personal world standard times and/or distances arising from their respective competitions, their all-round ability at a number of different track and field disciplines gives them special recognition in my eyes.  Anyway, after a tough Long Jump competition [won by Anouk Vetter of the Nederlands [6.32metres], and the Javelin throw [also won by Anouk Vetter with a throw of 58.41 metres],  the girls fronted up for the gruelling final deciding in their two day competition –  while the fastest 800 metres went to the Hungarian competitor, Xenia Krizsan in 2.07.17, the overall Heptathlon result saw the Gold go to the Olympic champion, Nafissatou Thiam [Belgian] with an overall total of 6784 points, ahead of Carolin Schafer [Germany] on 6696 points, and Anouk Vetter [Nederlands] 6636 points. The winner’s best scoring events were the Hurdles, High Jump and Long Jump

The Men’s Marathon [always this writer’s favourite viewing event] took place Sunday evening [AEST]  –  but gone are the days when the marathons were a stand-alone event on at times when there were no other competitions underway, and TV fans would get a complete coverage of the complete race – now it is shared [painfully at times] with other events on in conjunction, today no exception. Nevertheless, I enjoyed today’s coverage – the race began and finished on the Tower Bridge in London, and was more or less a circuit course of approximately 10 kilometres for each leg. The commentators suggested a starting list of 100 runners, of whom eventually, just 71 would finish the course.

Of the three Australians who entered race, one of them was a non-finisher, that being Josh Harris. The other two Australians  – Jack Colreavy finished 45th in 2.21.44, while Brad Milosevic finished 60th in 2.25.14. Mind you, Australia has a fairly successful history of marathon runners [male or female] in major events, but of recent years, that success has dwindled.  The first World Marathon championship, back in 1983,  was of course won by our own Robert de Castello.  Meanwhile, in 2017, after the first hour of the race, there was no sign of the Australians in the leading group, and they were basically not sited until they finished. At that stage, it was clear that the East African runners were once again setting the tempo of the marathon, and by an hour and 52 minutes into the race, the eventual winner had got right away from any opposition, and would go on to a comfortable win. The winner was Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui [Kenya] in 2.08.27, ahead of Jamirat Tola [Ethiopia] and Alphonce Felix Simbu [Tanzania]. A strong finish by Great Britain’s Callum Hawkins, saw him just miss out on the Bronze Medal by 26 seconds after coming from a fair way back in the closing stages.

The Women’s Marathon was also run today, but as far as I’m aware there was little recognition or coverage of it [in Australia anyway] which was a pity. The race was won by Rose Chelimo of Bahrain in 2.27.11, followed by Edna Mgeringwong Kiplagat [Kenya] and Amy Cragg [USA]. Australia had three competitors again, another reason that coverage of the race out here would have been welcome. All three achieved excellent results. Jessica Trengove  finished in 9th position with a time of 2.28.59, while the  other Australian girls were Sinead Diver [20th in 2.33.26] and Milly Clark [24th in 2.35.27].  This event had 92 starters, of whom 78 completed the course.

The Men’s 400 metre Hurdles were run with 5 heats. There were no Australians entered. The fastest time from the heats went to Yasmani Copello of Turkey, in 49.13 secs.

The Women’s 400 Metres event was of interest to Australia with the inclusion of young budding Indigenous  star, Morgan Mitchell. Today, there were 5 heats with the first three in each heat and the next 6 fastest going through to the next round. Morgan had made it through to the semi-finals at the Rio Olympics, but sadly couldn’t repeat that feat on this occasion. She ran in the 5th heat, and finished 5th in 52.22 secs, and was classified 26th overall. The best qualifying time came from Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Nasar in 50.57 secs, while the slowest qualifying time was 52.01 secs, so Morgan missed out by 0.21 sccs.

The Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles heats followed, with the first 4 in each of the 5 heats through to the semi-finals. Nicholas Hough ran in the 5th heat for Australia – he was 5th in 13.61 secs, after a slow start and a powerful finish, but not enough, with the last qualified time recorded as 13.58 secs.  The fastest qualifier was Aries Merritt of the USA in 13.16 secs  – a courageous runner, having returned to competition after having had a kidney transport!

The Women’s Pole Vault Final was completed today  – this saw a wonderful performance by the Greek competitor, Ekaterini Stefanidi with a vault of 4.91 metres. She won over the USA’s Sandi Morris, and Venezuela’s Robeilys Peinado.  Australia’s Liz Parnov finished in 15th position with 4.35 metres.

The Women’s Javelin qualifying event saw two Australian girls represented.  Kelsey-Lee Roberts qualified for the final with a throw of 63.70 metres [7th best overall], while Kathryn Mitchell finished in 25th position with a throw of 57.42 metres. The best qualification thrown came from China’s Huihui Lyu [67.59 metres].

The next three events had no Australian representation.

The Men’s 400 metre Semi-finals with the first two in each of the three semi finals plus the next fastest times to  through to the final  – the best qualifying time was recorded by Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas in 43.89 secs ahead of Jamaica’s Nathen Allen, and South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk.

Similarly, the Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles semi-finals, three events looking for 8 finalists –  the best time came from Omar McLeod of Jamaica in 13.10 secs, ahead of Garfield Darien [France] and Sergey Shubenkov [ANA – Russian runner competing independently because of current bans on that country].

The Men’s Shot Put Final produced a tense and close finish, and of local interest, the Gold eventually went to New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh with a distanced of 22.03 metres, from Joe Kovacs [USA] and Stipe Zunic [Croatia]. Australian Damien Birkenhead, who finished in 20th position [19.90] did not qualify for the final.

The Men’s 800 Metre semi-finals saw the best time go to Kipyegon Bett [Kenya] in 1.45.02, ahead of  Mohammad Aman [Ethiopia] and Brandon McBride [Canada].

Day 3 ended with the Final of the Women’s 100 Metres. Earlier in the day, the three semi-finals of the event were run with the fastest time going to Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in 10.84 secs, in front of the Ivory Coast runner, Ta Lou.  Thompson  was probably rightfully regarded as a favourite for the final [as per Usain Bolt], but it was not to be  –  in fact, she would finish in 5th position [10.98]. The sprint winner was Tori Bowie of the USA, in 10.85 secs, just shading out Maree-Josee Ta Lou [Ivory Coast] and Dafne Schippers [Nederlands].

Day Four –  Monday 7 August

We had just the one session today [early Tuesday here in Australia] with four finals to be decided [two Track, and two Field events].  As usual, detailed final results [Gold, Silver & Bronze, together with Australian performances] in all events, will be posted at the conclusion of this report of the ten days of competition.  Monday night in England, saw another almost packed house at the London stadium, for a wonderful sporting occasion.

The Men’s 200 metre heats got the program underway.  Again, no Australian representation – where are all our sprinters these days?  There were 7 heats of this event, with the fastest qualifier of the day going to Jereem Richards [from Trinidad & Tobago] in 20.05 secs, with Great Britain’s Nethaniel Mitchell-Blake not far behind in 20.08 secs.

The Qualifying round of the Men’s Triple Jump was the first field event of the day, with the best distances from the two groups being Chris Benard [USA] with a jump of 17.20 metres, and Cristian Napoles [Cuba] leaping 17.06 metres. There was no Australian participant in this event.

The Women’s Hammer Throw Final saw a trio if very happy ladies at the end of a tough competition, with the Chines competitor squeezed between two Polish girls on the victory podium at the competition. That was won by Anita Wlodarczyk [Poland] with a throw of 77.90 metres, ahead of Zheng Wang [China] and Malwina Kopron [Poland]

The Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles heats saw Australia’s Lauren Wells compete –  she appeared in Heat 1 of what is traditionally a gruelling event on the track. Sadly, Lauren did not progress any further, finishing 7th [last] in her heat in a time of 56.49 secs, and overall, would be placed 25th in the competition.  Lauren has previously competed at the Commonwealth Games in the 400 metre hurdles event and the 2012 and 2016 London & Rio Summer Olympics in that event, and is also a 400 metre runner and long jumper.  The fastest heat today was run by the USA’s Dalilah Muhammad in 54.59 seconds [in Lauren’s heat], with Jamaica’s Ristananna Tracey running 54.92 secs in Heat 3.

The Men’s 400 metre Hurdle semi-finals followed, with the first two in each heat to the Final plus the next best two times.  The three semi-final winners were Kerron Clement [USA} in 48.35 secs; T J Holmes [USA} in 49.12 secs, and Abderrahaman Samba [Qatar] in 48.75 secs.

The Women’s Triple Jump Final proved very popular, especially with the crowds on the opposite of the stadium to the main straight, where the event was conducted, and resulted in a close tussle between two South American competitors with the lead changing on a number of occasions.  The result would have been a rare piece of good news for the politically and economically embattled nation of Venezuela  –  their competitor, Yulimar Rojas won the Gold Medal with a jump of 14.91 metres, ahead of Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen [14.89] and Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan [14.77].

The Women’s 400 Metre semi-finals [aka Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Olympics triumph at Sydney] consisted of three heats, in which we saw the fastest time go to Salwa Eid Nasaer [Bahrain] in 50.08, just shading out the hot favourite [and winner of six Olympic Gold Medals], Allyson Felix of the USA in 5.12 secs.  The World Record in this event currently stands at 47.60 secs.  The final will be held early Thursday morning, AEST.

Well, we had two thrilling track finals to finish up the program on Day 4.

The Men’s 110 Metre Hurdle Final saw a strong field line up at the start, including the defending champion [the then Russian competitor, Shubenkov], the 2012 London Olympic champion, Aries Merritt, who has since undergone a kidney transplant, and current World No. 1, Omar McLeod of Jamaica.  The World record for this event stands at 12.80 secs.  Today’s result – the Gold went to Omar McLeod [Jamaica] in 13.64 secs, ahead of Sergey Shubenkov [now running as an independent competitor for ANA – Authorised Neutral Athlete –  during Russia’s current suspension period], and Hungary’s Balazs, bringing up an unexpected 3rd placing in 13.28 secs. This was Jamaica’s first Gold, and would help to make up for the disappointments created by the defeats of Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson, amongst others.  Aries Merritt finished in 5th place in 13.31 secs, behind France’s Garfield Darien.

The Women’s 1500 Metre Final, another wonderful distance event.  The World Record of 3.50.07 seemed out of reach of these competitors, despite a strong field of 12 starters, who included the Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion [Kenya’s Kipyegon].  The Brit, Laura Muir, and the USA’s Jennifer Simpson took the initiative at the start and went out fast, and while Muir was still just in front at the 800 metre mark, she was soon overtaken, while Simpson had dropped well back in the pack.  As they approached the winning straight, we could a fight back by Muir,  but then like a galloper coming from the back at the last bend, two brilliant finishes by Jenny Simpson, and South Africa’s Caster Semenya, saw Muir just knocked out of the Bronze Medal result near the finish line. The race was won by Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon [Kenya] in 4.02.59, with the Silver and Bronze medals going to Jennifer Simpson [USA] and Caster Semenya [RSA]. Muir finished in 4th spot, just 0.07 secs behind the South African girl.

After a few medal presentations, that event brought an end to Day 4’s competition.  For Sally Pearson fans, the Heats of the Women’s 100 metre Hurdles commence from 7.45 am on Friday, 11 August; and if she progresses, the Semi Finals are scheduled for 4.05 am on Saturday, 12 August, with the Final, at 5.05 am on Sunday, 13 August [Foxtel Channel 511], all times Australia Eastern Standard Time.

Day Five –  Tuesday 7 August

 Before beginning our summary of Day 4 of the Championships, I’d just like to make reference to a few points of interest

  • When referring to the Final of the Women’s Pole Vault on Saturday, I neglected to mention that there were in fact two Bronze Medals awarded on that occasion,that came in behind the Gold to Greece and the Silver to the USA- to the competitors from Venezuela and Cuba [full results appear at the end of the Championship’s report.
  • .On the morning after the Men’s 100 Metres Final, the ceremony for that event [with the Gold to be given to Justin Gatlin of the USA], it was decided by officials much earlier than originally planned, prior to the start of that day’s competition, and before the bulk of the crowd had arrived. Gatlin had been consistently booed by much of the crowd [due to his prior drug related convictions], so this move was made to avoid too great an embarrassment to the IAAF [and I suppose the athlete himself]. As it turned out, of the crowd who were there at that stage, there was a percentage who did boo Gatlin as he received his Medal.  It is difficult to know how to respond to this  – Gatlin had served his time out of the sport because of his actions [one of those sentences had been reduced in length], but I believe the antipathy towards him was partially related to the fact that he had apparently not shown any remorse or, shall we say, humbleness, over his actions, which, as with so many other instances in the sport over recent years, have tarnished athletics. In my report some years ago of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games [copies available upon request], I praised the achievements of the American sprinter, Marion Jones, only to discover in later years [as did the sport] that she had been taking drugs at the time of those Olympics. The words I quoted at the time [which would be regretted in many circles later] were “Though she failed to win the five crowns , it was a record debut at an Olympics and she became the darling of the track [yes, a US sprinter in Australia]. She came under immense pressure when it was revealed her husband, C.J.Hunter, had failed four drug tests’.  And yes, to respond and perform in the way she did, won her to the hearts of Australian spectators –  but little did we know at the time!!
  • I was not away that the name of the London Stadium was in fact ‘Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ – I assume that title was granted at the time of the London Olympics, in 2012.
  • During these championships, the death was announced of one of Australia’s great athletes –  Betty Cuthbery [1938-2017]. Prior to today’s program at the Stadium [just an afternoon/evening session today], a tribute was paid to Betty Cuthbert by the IAAF  – total silence in the 60,000 full stadium for a couple of minutes, a beautiful moment. I recall that at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, Betty Cuthbert was wheeled into the stadium carrying the Olympic torch, and pushed by Cathy Freeman [later, Australian winner of the 400 metres Gold Medal].  As a further tribute, the remaining Australian athletes competing in London, would wear a black armband [though I noticed later that didn’t seem obvious in some instances]. Betty Cuthbert won the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 relay Gold Medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Gold in the 400 metres at Tokyo in 1964, along with numerous medals at the Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958 and 1962, and many national titles. She became Australia’s first inductee into the IAAF Hall of Fame, in its inaugural year of 2012

But now back to this day’s events, with a crowd of 60,000 [capacity] in the stadium again.

Women’s Javelin Throw Final

Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Roberts had just managed to scrape into this final, from the qualification rounds, but unfortunately failed to make the final cut in today’s event, despite distances thrown this year of over 65 metres  – her three rounds today saw distances of  60.76, 59.39 and 59.76. She would finish 10th overall in the competition. Kelsey-Lee failed to qualify for the Rio final, but was the most recent Commonweslth Games Bronze medallist.

The winning throw of 66.76 metres went to Czechoslovak’s Barbora Spotakova [a 36 year old Mum, who won this event ten years previously], from the two Chinese competitors [on 66.25 and 65.26]..

Women’s 200 Metre Heats

This event saw Australia represented by two athletes – Riley Day, and Ella Nelson. I couldn’t help noticing prior to the start of each of the shorter races, the absolute silence that pervaded the stadium as we waited for the starter to send the athletes on their way.

There were 7 heats, with the first three runners in each heat into the semi-finals, plus the next fastest competitors [can’t recall the number in this instance].

Riley Day competed in Heat 1, and finished back in 7th place [last] in a time of 23.77 secs. The winner was the Nederlands Dafne Schippers in 22.63.  Heat 2 was won by the USA’s Kimberley Duncan, in 22.86 secs. Ella Nelson took her place in Heat 3, and I would actually be disappointed for her sake with her 7th [and last] placing in 24.02 secs. She had essentially finished in 9th position at Rio, having missed out on a place in the Olympic final by 0.01 secs.  The winner of this heat was Deajah Stevens [USA] in 22.90 secs. The other four heat winners were Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas in 22.69 secs, Dina Asher-Smith [GBR] in 22.73, Maree Josee TA LOU [CIV] 22.70 [it was a real joy to watch the running style of this girl]; and Rebekka Haase  {Germany] 22.99.

Men’s Pole Vault Final

Despite my earlier assumption, that he had not qualified for the final, Kurtis Marschall [Australia] sneaked in near the end of qualifications, so took his place in today’s final. He succeeded at the height of 5.65 metres but later failed at his three attempts 5.75 metres. Overall in the Pole Vault, Kurtis finished in 7th position. Kurtis was a Junior champion vaulter a couple of years ago.

Unusually in this event, three of the final  12 vaulters have dropped out of the event at the first height of 5.50 metres.  The winning vault in the event which lasted well over two hours, the commentators describing the closing stages as representing ‘match point’ on a number of occasions as the tussle between the American and French competitors dominated the final battle for supremacy, with a Pole having a say in the outcome also. The final outcome saw the Olympic Gold medallist, Sam Kebdricks [USA] win with a vault of 5.95 metres, over Piotr Lisek [Poland] on 5.89, and Renaud Lavillenie [France] 5.89. The Frenchman attempted 6.01 to take the Gold over the American, but failed in that attempt.

 Women’s 400 Metres Hurdles Semi-finals

No Aussies in this event, which consisted of three semi-finals. The first 2 in each heart  plus the 2 fastes losers would go into the final.  Winners were Zuzana Hejnova [Cze]  54.59;  Ristananna Tracey [Jamaica] 54.79; and Dalilah Muhammad [USA] 55.00.  The existing World Record in this event is 52.34 secs.

Women’s Shot Put Qualifications

This year, there was no Australian representative. The leading qualkifiers for the final were in Group A: Anita Marton [Hungary] with a Put of 18.76 metres, and in Group B, Lijaio GONG [China] 18.97. The qualifying distance for the final was 18.30 metres. 

Men’s 3000 Steeplechase Final

As with all distance races, this event would attract my particular attention, having preferred to attempt [never successfully I might add] the longer journeys as a young man.

There were 15 starters in the final, of whom 14 would finish. The USA’s Evan Jager  would lead for a large part of the race, but inevitably, the Kenyan runner, Conseslus Kipruto [who was also the Olympic champion], would overtake him in the final stages. Jager was described as ‘serving it up to the Kenyan’, and losing probably his best chance at winning a world championship event, having finished second behind  Kipruto in the Olympic event. He would actually finish in 3rd place, behind Morocco’s Soufiane Elbakkali.  The winning time was 8.14.12 [compared with the existing world record of 7.53.63].

Men’s 800 Metres Final

Another classic race at these championships. The World Record is 1.40.91. Interestingly, a Kenyan born athlete has won 9 of the 15 editions of this particular race, but it was to be a different story today, with two Europeans finishing ahead of the sole Kenyan runner – in fact we had eight different nations represented in this final, with the opportunity for the competitor from Botswana [Nijel Amos] to win for the first time for his country [again not to be, he finished in 5th position [1.45.83]. The victory went to France’s Pierre-Ambroisse Bosse in a time of 1.44.67. It was a tactical victory for the Frenchman who skipped the field in the last 200 metres and was never going to be caught from that point. Second place went to Poland’s Adam Kszczot, ahead of Kenya’s Kipyegon Bett.  Australia’s Peter Bol, who had failed to qualify beyond the heats stage, finished overall in 38th position, in a time of 1.49.65.  Great Britain’s Kyle Langford almost snatched the Bronze from the Kenyan, one more stride would have done it, missed out by 0.04 of a second.

Men’s 400 Metres Final

Now this event used to be regarded as a ‘USA birthright’, with that nation having dominated the event over many years. The existing world record is 43.03 secs. Today’s seven starters would not get near that mark. There had been listed eight starters, but the runner from Botswana was banned from taking his placed in the field [after arriving at the stadium to do so] following a bout of illness which had affected a number of athletics and others in one of the hotels they were staying at. He was Isaac Makwala, and he will come to our attention again over the next two days, having also been preventing from competing in the 200 metre heats because of the illness.

The winner of this final, from South Africa, was described as being in a ‘class of his own’, through the brilliant manner in which he ran and won this race – also of significance because he was also a competitor in the 200 metres event, which came him little recovery time between races.  Wayde Van Niekerk won the Gold in 43.98 secs, ahead of Steven Gardiner [Bahamas] and Abdalelah Haroun [Qatar]. He appeared to win without effort, yet afterwards was criticised by the two British ‘interviewers’ because he didn’t do a lap of honour, and lay down in the interview area for a long period of time [being interviewed by some whilst still lying on the floor, and then leaving before he reached the English interviewers]. He did speak to them the next morning, though I’m not sure if that satisfied them completely – they felt, that as these interviews were televised world-wide and perhaps in the stadium itself, the successful athletes in particular had a duty to meet such obligations. Most certainly did, but Niekerk obviously felt that he was not fully recovered from his run to meet all those obligations! He was due to run in the 200 metre semi-final next day, and while he had looked refreshed almost at the end of the 400 metres, that energy seem to have deserted him soon afterwards. Having run a number of 400 metre races many years ago, I can easily understand such exhaustion – it is a gruelling distance to cover in a short time!!.

Day Six, Wednesday, 9th August

 It was a dreadful day, weather-wise in London – rained throughout the entire evening’s program [there was no morning session again today], and at one stage, the likelihood of events such as the Hammer-throw might have to be deferred. However, all events proceeded as planned, and must have main things much more difficult than they needed to be – after-all, athletics is a Summer sport, and such conditions would be difficult to adjust to., but in most instances, they did just that.

There was the usual presentation of medals from the previous day’s events at the beginning of the day’s program [it appeared that the presentation stand was just under the cover of the standing roof, as there was a lot of water on the ground just behind where it continued to rain steadily, but the athletes and officials involved in the medal ceremonies appeared to be relatively sheltered, as so they should have been].

The ‘program’ began with an unusual event. The runner from Botswana [ Isaac Makwala] who had been prevented from competing in the 400 metres Final yesterday, appealed to the IAAF that he be allowed to participate in the 200 metres semi-finals [the heats of which he had also missed yesterday]. He was granted permission to undertake a ‘time trial  –  to run the 200 metres, alone, with the aim of completing it in a time of 20.53 secs or better, which was the time run by the slowest qualifier for the semi-finals [that runner would not be prevented from taking his place if Makwala succeeded].  Well it was a big ask  –  he undertook the run in driving ran at the beginning of the evening’s session, with the knowledge that if he succeeded, he would have to line up again in 2 hours.  Succeed he did  –  in 20.20 secs, powering towards the finish line in a desperate attempt to ensure he made the required time.  That was a very ‘popular’ run as far as the almost capacity crowd was concerned [numbers obviously down a little as a consequence of the weather].

 Women’s 3000 Metres Steeplrchase Heats

This event officially began the evening session. Australia had two girls competing  –  Genevieve Lacaze and Victoria Mitchell. The world record in this event is 8.52.78, held by Ruth Jebet of Bahrain, who would finish second in Heat 2 today in the much slower time of 9.19.52.

In view of the weather conditions, I found myself feeling the way I do when watching horses over steeples and hurdles –  just hoping they all get to the end safely, as this event seemed to be a particular danger to the athletes in the driving rain [although from a ‘dampness’ point of view, there would be little concerns about falling at the water jump!!]. The first three in each heat plus the six fastest would progress – there was some criticism of that format of qualification, and it was suggested that the competitors [which was a very slowly run heat] in the first heat were disadvantaged and it was unlikely that anyone after the first three to get through because of the pedestrian pace of the race, whereas the second two heats had some indication of how fast they needed to run. However, surely that situation applies in any event beginning with heats?

In any case, the 1st heat was eventually won in 9.39.86 by the German girl Gesa Felicitas Krause, ahead of the two Kenyan runners, the first of those finishing just 0.03 secs behind Krause.

The 2nd heat saw Victoria Mitchell included in the field of 13 starters. This was a much faster run heat  – too fast for our girl, who finished back in 11th position in a time of 10.00.40. The winner was Beatrice Chepkeoch [Kenya] in 9.19.03..

The third heat went to another Kenyan – Celliphine Chepteek Chespol in 9.27.35. Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze ran a strong race, being amongst the leading runners for a large part of the race, was 4th with 2 laps to go, and finished  up in 3rd place in a time of 9.27.53  –  it was great, after mostly failures to see an Australian competitor get through to a track final!  Genevieve had finished 9th in this event at Rio last year.  Genevieve was a finalist in the Rio 5000 metres event. Speaking after her race, she said that ‘Worlds were not even a possibility two months ago –I thought I was going home” after suffering a host of injuries this year.

 Women’s Long Jump Qualification

This event, as with all others today, conducted in persistent rain.  Two Australian girls took part  –  Naa Anang, and Brooke Stratton.  Naa took her place in Group A,  where she would finish in 13th position with a jump of 6.27 metres. The leading qualifier in that group was Claudia Salman-Rath of Germany with a jump of 6.52, together with Chantel Malone of the British Virgin Islands.

In Group B, Brooke Stratton finished 4th with a jump of 6.46 metres, behind the leading qualifier, Lorraine Ugen of Great Britain [6.63 metres].  As far as the coverage of that event, we saw very little of the Australian competitors – of course, this is a British broadcast we are taking, so in the main, the Australian competitors, particularly in the field events, well we see very little of them! As for Brooke, she qualified for the Final, finishing in 12th position to sneak into the Final. She finished 7th in the Rio Olympics final, and has shrugged off an injury-prone season to get to this championship event,. Not having competed during the Australian summer due to injury. Speaking after the qualification rounds, Brooke said that she’d not expected to make it to London, and didn’t feel that her best leap of 6.46 metres would get her through to the final, saying “I had frozen feet which isn’t ideal for jumping and made it quite difficult”. The Long Jump final is scheduled for the early hours of Saturday morning, AEST.

 Men’s Hammerthrow Qualification, Groups A and B

We had no Australian representative in this event. Despite the weather, most of the throwers seem to cope fairly well with the bad conditions. The best qualifiers in each of the two groups were Pawel Fajdek of Poland [76.82 metres], and Wojciech Nowicki also from Poland [76.85 metres].

 Men’s 5000 metre Heats

There were two heats in this event which included three Australian competitors  – Morgan McDonld, Sam McEntee, and Patrick Tiernan [who’d had a rather disappointing 10,000 metre run earlier in the competition, when he appeared to be disorientated as he was lapped during the final stages].

Morgan and Sam lined up in Heat 1, which also included the great Mo Farah [who won the 10,000 metres Gold]. The two Aussies would find themselves in the middle of the field early in the race, but gradually would drift bavk towards the rear, while Mo Farah who had started in his customary position at the race, gradually made his way forward. After 8 laps, there were 15 men in the leading pack, with both Australians at the rear of that group. With the first five in each of the two heats plus the next 5 fastest runners, Mo Farah did not seemed concerned about his eventual 2nd placing behind Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha [13.30.07].  While Sam McEnteee would finish back in 11th position [of the 21 starters], Morgan McDonald finished the race strongly, coming home fast trying to get into that 5th spot of automatic qualification  – a desperate effort in the closing metres, saw him just miss out, finishing 7th in 13.30.73 [0.37 secs behind the 5th runner].

The second heat, run in the still driving rain,  saw a much stronger race by Patrick Tiernan.  There was a lot of physical contact in this race, particularly towards the latter stages, and Tirnan was able to take advantage of the fall of two competitors with just over 3 laps to go, in fact he jumped over one of the fallen athletes to avoid going down himself. A tall man, he took the lead in the race [great to see] with 3 laps to go – at the 4000 metres mark, Tiernan still held that lead, however with two laps to go, he is overtaken by the African runners and is soon sitting back around in 4th/5th position. Certainly a much better run than his 10,000 metres, and he battled on in the closing stages, 3rd in the final lap, in pouring rain,  to finally come home in 4th position [13.22.52], and automatically qualify for the Final. The eventual winner was Selemon Berega of Ethiopia [13.21.50] ahead of the competitors from Bahrain and Kenya.Tiarnan had run himself into the final, with McDonald just missing out.

 Women’s Shot Put Final

This event saw a tight battle at the end between the competitors from China, the USA and Hungary, with the three Chinese finalists eventually finishing in 1st, 5th and 12th position.  The winner was Lijiao Gong  [also the Olympic champion] with a put of 19.94 metres, ahead of Hungary’s Anita Marton, and Michelle Carter of the USA.

No Australian had qualified to participate in this event.

 Men’s 200 metre Semi-finals

We chad the three semi-finals of this event today –  the first two in each heat only, to the final plus the next two best times. Heat 1 saw Isaac Makwala [of Botswana] run his second 200 metres within two hours, following his especially IAAF granted early morning trial. I think he may have been the crowd favourite [aside from the Great Britain competitor] with a lot of sympathy directed towards his efforts.  Makwala would finish second [and qualify for the final, almost from aick bed] behind Isiah Young [USA] who ran 20.12 secs [Makwala in 20.14] with the Great Britain competitor coming in third place, 0.05 secs behind.

Heat 2, saw a win to the exciting young athlete from Trinidad & Tobago  –  Jereem Richards, in a time of 20.14 secs, an easy win on the day, and to many, the sign of a future star.

Heat 3 went to the Turkish runner, perhaps a surprise result ahead of more fancied oppoments including the South African Gold Medalist of the previous day, Van Niekerk  –  Ramil Guliyev won in the time of 20.17 secs, at the time, the 4th fastest qualifier for the upcoming final.

 Men’s 400 metres Hurdles Final

This was a very welcome, and perhaps unexpected win for Scandinavia  –  Karsten Warholm of Norway, stormed home to win the race in the time 48.35 seconds – a race which considering the ongoing weather conditions, was probably more of a challenge than it normally is. In any case, he gate crashed the party from behind in the closing metres to defeat Yasmani Copello [Turkey] and Kerron Clement [USA]. Clement started as one of the favourites for this race  n-  he was the reigning Olympic and World champion in the event, and had been the fastest qualifier. The winner, a very personable young man, was rather excited about his success. In his homeland, he apparently trains up to 7 hours a day, and following today’s success, wore a Viking helmet for an hour or so during his lap of honour and post-race interviews, etc. Watching his medal ceremony the next morning, I wondered if I’d ever heard the Nationa Anthem of Norway previously?

 Women’s 400 metres Final

The final event on today’s rain-plagued day of competition, saw the long-time success story of American track, Allyson Felix into the third spot on the podium by her  fellow country rival, Phyllis Francis [USA]  winning the Gold in the time of 49.92 secs. The Silver Medal went to Salwa Eid Naser [Bahrain], with the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller – Uibo fading to 4th after looking a possible winner earlier in the race. Francis hs normally being regarded as a relay specialist, so this would be a special result for her.  For Felix, this would be her 14th Championship medal, of which 9 had been Gold medals.

 Day Seven, Thursday, 10th August

On this 7th day of the Championships, we saw a number of Australian athletes attempt to make their mark on this competition.  Prior to this day’s events, the Medal tally stood at USA: 4 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze;  Kenya: 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze, and South Africa: 2 Gold and 2 Bronze. There were 14 other individual countries having won at least one Gold Medal. In total, there were 27 countries having secured a medal of some colour so far  – but for Australia, not yet a single medal. Could today be the start of something, down under?

Compared to yesterday’s weather, London turned on a good day for the athletes. Here is the way things eventuated.

Women’s 5000 metre Heats

With two heats of the 5000 metres for the girls, we had the first 5 in each heat, plus the next 5 fastest to go through to the final.  Australia had three competitors  –  Madeline Hills and Heide See [both running in Heat 2] and Eloise Wellings [in Heat 1].

Heat 1 also included the 10,000 metre winner, Almaz Ayana, and the UK hope, Laura Muir. This was the strongest of the two heats. After the first lap, we found Eloise near the rear of the field, yet by the 2 km stage, we had all 16 runners bunched up together in a fairly tight pack.  At the 3,200 metre mark, Ayana hits the front momentarily, as if to say “I’m in charge now’, although she would share the lead for the rest of the race with the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. Meanwhile, Eloise  was gradually starting to lose ground on the leading group with 3 ½ laps to go, and at 600 metres, the field was really beginning to stretch out. The English girl, really has her work cut out now, and appears to be struggling, eventually finishing back in 7th position. The race would eventually be won by Hellen Onsando Obiri of Kenya in 14.56.70, ahead of Ayana who made no real attempt to finish in front at the end, perhaps saving herself for the Final at the weekend.  Eloise Wellings finished second last, in 15th position [15.25.92]

Heat 2, which involved Madeline and Heidi for Australia,  who as with many of the Australian competitors received little acknowledgement from the British commentators as the competitors lined up [I guess not really having made names for themselves on the international stage to this point in time]. There were again 16 starters in this heat, which saw a courageous run by the American, Molly Huddle who took a ‘bold move’ and went out to a substantial lead over the field at about 4 minutes into the race. With 8 laps to run, Huddle was still in the lead by about 40 metres, and as the laps progressed, and that lead increased to about 7 seconds over the following pack who had made no real effort to close the gap.  At that stage, Hills was in 11th position, while Heide See was near the rear of the runners.

With 3 laps to go, Hills has moved up into 7th position and appears to be running strong, while Huddle [barring a major mishap] looks to have done enough to secure a win with one kilometre to go. Hills goes back to 10th.  However, with one lap to run, the gap has closed to around 4 seconds, and suddenly it is closing very fast now fast for the brave Huddle who is passed by six competitors in the final 60 metres or so,  a very disappointing outcome for the American after taking the field on do early. The eventual winner was Letsenbet Gidey of Ethiopia in 14.59.34, over runners from the Nederlands and the USA. Molly Huddle finished in 7th position in 15.03.60. The two Australian girls finished back in the field  – Madeline Hills was 10th [15.13.77] and Heidi See came in 14th spot [15.38.86]. None of the three Australian girls qualified for the final  – in the overall standings, Hills [19th], Wellings [27th] and See [29th] of the 32 starters.

Men’s Javelin Qualifying, Groups A and B

Australia’s representative in this field event was Hamish Peacock. The qualifying mark for advancement to the Final was 83 metres, in which the best 12 competitors would participate. . Competing in Group A of the competition, against 14 other throwers, Peacock’s  three rounds produced 77.88, 82.46 and 82.19, just short of the qualification distance, he would have to wait until the completion of Group B to see if he could get through. In Group A, he was placed 6th behind five rivals who all passed the 83 metres. The leading throw was by Johannes Vetter of Germany [a very self-confident man – my harsh description was ‘a bit full of himself’ but perhaps he’d earned that attitude  – he did throw a massive 91.20 metres].

In Group B, it was quickly evident that our man was going to miss out, as the number of successful throws grew rapidly   – eight of the sixteen competitors exceeded the 83 metres, with the winner of the group being Petr Frydrych [Cze] throwing 86.22 metres.  In the overall classification summary, Hamish Peacock finished in 14th position with his best throw of 82.46 metres, the best non-qualifier on the day, with the top 13 going into the Final..

Women’s High Jump Qualifying

In the direct telecast of this event, there was little of it shown, and certainly, prior to the various replays of the events, no progressive results were indicated to the viewers.    Nicola McDermott was jumping for Australia.

We would later learn that she competed in Group A with 15 others, but sadly did nor register a jump, failing at her three attempts at an opening height of 1.80 metres. Nicola would be classified overall at the bottom of the 30 starters in the event. A disappointing journey for the young Australian.

The leading heights in the two groups were Katarina Johnson-Thompson [the unsuccessful British Heptathlon competitor] with a leap of 1.92 metres, and Maria Lasitskene [ANA – one of the independent Russian competitors] with 1.92 metres also.

Women’s 800 metre Heats

The first three go into the semi-final stage, plus the next best six. There were six heats, and we had three Australians competing  –  Lora Storey, Brittany McGovern and Georgia Griffiths.

Heat 1 went to Ajee Wilson [USA] in 2.00.52.  Heat 2 went to Poland’s Angelika Cichocka in 2.00.86. Australia’s Lora Storey found herself well back in the field of eight with a lap to go, and finished in 7th place in 2.07.17.  Heat 3, resulted in a similar outcome for Brittany McGovern, who 6th of seven starters, in the time of 2.02.25. The winner of that heat was Caster Semenya of South Africa in 2.01.33. Heat 4 went to the Kenyan runner, Margaret Myairera Wambui in 2.00.75. Heat 5 was won by Charlene Lipsey of the USA in 2.02.74. Australia’s Georgia Griffith put in a strong finish to miss out on 4th place by 0.09 secs – her time, in 5th position was 2.03.54. I was hoping the times for Griffith and McGovern might qualify them for the next stage. Heat 6 went to Francine Niyonsaba of BDI in 1.59.86.

In the overall classification of results before the semi-finals which none of the Australian girls qualified for, we found that Brittany McGovern finished 28th, Georgia Griffiths, 38th, and Lora Storey, in 41st position of the 45 original starters in the heats.

 Men’s Triple Jump Final

This  event received all of the coverage not allocated to the Women’s High Jump, both undertaken at similar times.  It turned out to have the Americans going ‘toe for toe’. The World record for this event has been held for some 20 years by one of the broadcast interviewers, England’s Jonathan Edwards on 18.29 metres – he and his offsider felt that record might be broken today.

Well, despite the battle between two Americans that didn’t happen, and Jonathan’s remained secure for a little longer.  The eventual winner would be Christian Taylor [USA] with a jump of 17.68 metres ahead of his fellow countryman, Will Claye, 17.63 metres. Nelson Evora of Portugal came for the Bronze, with the third American in the Final finishing in 6th position.

Men’s 1500 Metre Heats

One of the glamour events of any athletic completion is the 1500 metres, and in past decades, Australia had some success in the event, but not in recent times. We had three hopefuls in this race  – the experienced Ryan Gregson, the high prospect. Luke Matthews, and  Jordan Williamsz.  There were three heats with the first six in each heat plus the next best six runners to progress to the semi-final.

Heat 1 saw Williansz compete in a field of 14 starters, and he was sitting in 8th position at the 8oo metres mark. The race would be won by Elijah Motonei Manangoi of Kenya in 3.45.93, in a ‘bunfight’ of a finish involving up to eight seeking one of those first positions. They included Jordan Williamsz who finished very strongly, coming from behind to grab the 6th position, in 3.46.11, and qualify for a start in the next round.

Heat 2 featured Ryan Gregson, whom I’d anticipated would finish close to the front, but despite a strong run towards the final straight, he dropped back in the closing stages to finish in 9th position in a time of 3.43.28. The Heat 2 winner was Sadik Mikhou of Bahrain in 3.42.12. Gregson failed to qualify.

The Heat 3 result  was a rare pleasing one for an Australian viewer. Luke Matthews was in 4th position at 400 metres, 3rd at the 800 metre mark, and back to 4th at the bell lap. Early in the final lap, he went to the lead, and despite close opposition managed to retain that position to win the heat for Australia in 3.38.19 [he had apparently run times of around 3.35 in Australia]. It was a rare pleasant to view an Australian athletic cross the line in first place –  true, only a heat, but the opportunity is there. In the overall classification, he was in fact the fastest qualifier, while  Ryan Gregson, whom I thought had qualified initially, just missed out, in 20th position. Meanwhile, Jordan Williamsz finished back in 29th position in the overall time classification, but because of his 6th placing in the heat would also compete at the semi-final stage.

 Women’s 200 Metre Semi-finals

The world record for this event is 21.34 seconds. The first two from each of the three semi-finals plus the next two fastest would advance to the final. Our two Australian girls were eliminated at the Heat stage.

Semi-final One saw victory go to Dafne Schippers [Nederlands] in 22.49secs.  Semi-final 2 was won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo [Bahamas] in 22.49 secs, while the third semi-final went to Marie-Josee Ta Lou [CIV] in 22.50 secs.  So the leading three qualifiers going into the Final, all finished within one hundredth of a second of each other.

Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles Final

The reigning champion in this event was the girl from the Czech Republic, Zuzana Hejnova, and she was highly fancied to retain the crown. However others had different ideas, particularly the two American runners.

The Gold medal was won by Kori Carter of the USA in the time of 53.07 secs, followed by Dalilah Muhammad [USA, the Olympic champion] in 53.50. The runner from Jamaica, Ristananna Tracey, secured the Bronze medal ahead of Hejnova who finished in 4th place.

 Men’s 200 Metres Final

The world record in this event is held by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, in 19.19 secs. He is not competing in the event on this occasion.  The final had a great line-up of prospective winners including South Africa’s Van Neikerk [who had qualified as a fast loser], Jereem Williams [from Trinidad and Tobago], and the crowd favourite due to the circumstances of him reaching the Final, Isaac Makwala. Perhaps overlooked was the man from Turkey..

It would turn out to be a close finish after Richards got away to a sluggish start but flashed towards the finishing line a big threat to the also fast-finishing South African  –  but it would in fact be the man from Turkey, Ramil Guliyev, who stole the race from them all – being the second European runner [formerly of Azabrahan] to ever win this race –  in a time of 20.09. Guliyev had finished 8th in the event in Rio last year, and this was apparently his first ever medal in an international championship event.  The minor medals went to Van Miekerk and Richards, while Botswana’s Isaac Makwala finished in 6th position in 20.44 secs, much slower than the times he recorded in his ‘solo’ heat, ands semi-final time.

A full listing of the event results, together with those of all other finals, appears at the end the Championships report.

 Day Eight,  Friday, 11th August

We had the two sessions of competition today, and the highlight as an all-round athletics fam, would be the start of the Men’s Decathlon event, and return to the international track of Sally Pearson. There will be more on both of those shortly, but the day also saw of number of other Australian athletes competing in semi-final and final events.

Friday was a sunny day in London, right up until the last event just before 9pm, where a shower of rain briefly hit the stadium, and for competitors such as the Men’s Hammer Throwers, and the Women Steeplechasers, it was a welcome change from their rain-drenched events of two days ago.

Morning session

 The Men’s Decathlon, to be spread over two full days, would get the program underway, and it was great to have an Australian contestant to follow in this multi-disciplined event. It has been a World Championship event since 1983, with the inaugural winner being the great Daley Thompsom.

The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin, basically meaning ‘ten’ and ‘feat’. Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined by the combined performance in all. Performance is judged on a points system in each event, not by the position achieved.  It is basically the male equivalent of the Women’s Heptathlon, which opened the Championships at the beginning of competition.  It combines the results of competition in four runs, three jumps and three throws  –  on Day 1, we have the 100 metres, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump and 400 metres, while on Day 2, contestants compete in the 110 metre hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin and the 1500 metres. A true test of all around athletic prowess in a broad range of track and field.

While today’s events were spread over the two sessions, I’ll summarise today’s results before moving on to other events. Australia’s representative was Cedric Dubler, who competed as Australia’s first decathlete in 16 years at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, placing 14th. In 2014 he won Silver at the IAAF U20 World Junior Championships in Eugene, setting a new Oceania Junior Record of 8094 points.[4] In 2012, aged 17, Dubler placed 4th at the same competition in Barcelona.  While not anticipating a medal opportunity, he hoped to improve at that Rio performance.

The Decathlon 100 Metres consisted of four heats which saw the following first place getters  – Mihail Dudas [Serbia] in 10.75 secs [917points]  – Kevin Mayer [France] in 10.70 secs [929 pts]. Cedric Dubler finished 4th in the 2nd heat in 11.06 secs, earning 847 pts  –  Martin Roe [Norway] in 10.90 secs [883 pts]  –  Damian Warner [Canada] in 10.50 secs [975 pts].  I was interested to note that before the start of the heats, the competitors each went around shaking each other’s hands, with the Australian initiating that in his heat – something that despite the fierce competition of the Decathlon, is typical of the r4espect and friendship of this particular group of athletes [similarly with the Heptathlon event]. In any case, the leaders after the first of the ten disciplines [remembering that points earned are based on times run, not the position finished] – 1. Damian Warner [Canada]: 975.  2. Rico Freimuth [Germany]: 968;  3. Karl Robert Saluri [Estonia]: 963. Cedric Dubler was in 17th position with 870 pts.

The Decathlon Long Jump saw points earned for successful jumps in each of the three rounds. As with most the field events in which Australians were competing, I would be constantly disappointed that the British cameras could never seem to find the Australians  – this event was no different, Cedric was there, but never jumping when the cameras bothered to be about, I think he appeared once on the second track out of view as the British competitor jumped. Anyway, be that as it may, he will slip back a little in this event, finishing 17th overall, an earning 883 points, with a best jump of 7.29 metres. The leading jumpers were Sutthisak [Thailand] 7.65metres [975 pts], Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 7.64 [970 pts], and Ilya Shkurenev [ANA – the Authorised National Athletes team consisting of 19 Russian athletes] 7.62 [965 pts].  At the end of the 2nd discipline, some movement at the top  –  1. Rico Freimuth [Germany] on 1898 pts. 2. Damian Warner [Canada] on 1895 pts, and 3. Karl Robert Saluri [Estonoa] on 1895 pts. Cedric Dubler now sits in 19th position on 1730pts. At this stage, of the original 35 starters, there were now 33 left in the competition.

The Decathlon Shot Putt  – this event was held late in the morning session, with all other events included –  but the British cameras still could not manage to find our Australian man, in covering the Shot Put – my gripe for the day  – he is there, but is seemingly ignored until it’s time to sum up the result!! Anyway, like the Long Jump this would be conducted in two groups with points again allocated on the basis of distance thrown. The leading results were  –  Lindon Victor [Grenada] 15.86 metres [843 pts]; Kevin Mayer [France]  15.72 [834 pts], and Bastien Auzeil [France] 15.23 [804 pts].  Cedric Dubler’s best put was 11.36 metres, in 32nd position [568 pts]. At the conclusion of the Shot Put, the overall placings saw  1. Kevin Mayer [France] on 2703 pts. 2. Rico Freimuth [Germany] on 2678 pts. 3. Trey Hardee [USA] on 2647 pts.   Cedric had now dropped to 29th position overall, on 2298 pts. However, his two best events of the day lay ahead.

The Decathlon HighJump followed  – this event was held in the very early hours of an Australian Saturday morning, and was almost over before the advertised starting time.  Australia’s Cedric Dubler had a very good competition in this event, though the writer didn’t get to see any of his jumps.  In the overall washup at the completion of the two group stages, Cedric finished in 5th position, with a leap of 2.08 metres, earning him a total of 878 points.  The leading contenders in the High Jump event were Kai Kasmirek [Germany], 2.11 metres [906 pts];  Pau Tonneson [Spain] 2.08 metres [878 pts], and Jorge Urena [Spain]2.08 metres [878 pts].

After four disciplines in the Decathlon, we find the leading three to be Kevin Mayer [3581 pts], Kai Kazmirek [3472 pts], and Rico Freimuth [3472 pts] – very tight at the top, while Cedric Dubler has improved his overall position to 22nd position on 3176 points.

The Men’s Decathlon 400 Metres  – there were 4 heats of the 400 metres, with the respective winners in each being Mihail Dudas [Croatia] in 48.08 secs [905 pts]; Cedric Dubler [Australia] in 48.31 secs [894 pts]; Rico Freimuth [Germany] 48.41 secs [889 pts], and Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 47.19 secs [949 pts].  The 2nd heat win by Cedric was great run which saw ,him come from the pack and surge ahead in the closing stages, and allow his overall position to improve further at the end of Day 1 of the competition.

At the conclusion of today’s Decathlon events, the leading three were Kevin Mayer [4478 pts], Kai Kazmirek [4421], and Rico Freimuth 4347 pts], followed by Daniel Warner [4347] and Trey Hardie [4313].  The Australian lad has moved up to 18th position with a total of 4070 points]. There are now 27 athletes following 8 withdrawals since the start.

Women’s Discus Qualifying

Australia had two representatives in the Women’s Discus –  Taryn Gollshewsky competed in Group A, and unfortunately ended up in 14th position of the 15 position – her best throw was 54.29. In the overall competition, she finished 27th of the 30 starters. Dani Stevens competed in Group B, and her first and only throw exceeded the distance required to qualify for the Final  –  she threw 65.56, which was the third best qualifier of all competitors. Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic [hot favourite to win the event] had a best distance of 69.67 metres, and Yaime Perez of Cuba, threw 65.58 metres.  Dani Stevens has had international success previously, including the Commonwealth Youth Champion in 2004, World Champion in 2009, and Commonwealth Games Champion in 2014, and I look forward to her performances in the Final.

As mentioned previously with other field events, we were given very little opportunity to see any of either Australian girl’s participation in the Discus, which, as probably guessed by now, I have found very disappointing.

Men’s High Jump Qualifying

With an initial qualification height of 2.31 metres, this event was conducted over 2 groups. The initial stages saw a number of fancied competitors knocked out , and at relatively low heights. In the end, we would have twelve athletes qualify for the Final, six of them achieving a height of 2.31 metres, and the other six reaching 2.29 metres. Quialified in position one was  Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. Unfortunately, we had no Australians entered in this event.

 Women’s 100 metres Hurdles Heats, and Semi-Finals

For Australian supporters this event is probably [and also sadly] the only event at this competition that have any likelihood of a major medal, with Sally Pearson making her comeback appearance at the World Championships, after missing the last competition, and the Rio Olympics due to injury.  Sally was of course ‘our’ Olympic hero at this very stadium one August day in 2012, when in driving rain, she won the Olympic 100 metres hurdles that year, after previously winning the event at the same title at the World Championships in 2011. After 2 years of disruption, originating with the breaking of her wrist in a race in 2015, and then suffering other injuries, followed by a decision to self-coach and virtually start over again, Sally is back!!

Meanwhile, we would also be represented in this event by Michelle Jenneke, who is recorded as being the second fastest Australian [obviously behind Sally] in this event.

The morning session saw the heats of the race, while the semi-finals were held a few hours later during the evening session. The competition had a very strong field including the current world record holder, Kendra Harrison [USA], who was expected to be very difficult to defeat, despite the fact that Sally in a recent Diamond League race at the London Stadium, ran 12.48 secs, her fastest time for five years to finish just a stride behind Harrison [12.39 that day].

The results of the five heats were as follows:  Heat 1: went to Danielle Williams [Jamaica] in 12.66 secs. Heat 2 also went to Jamaica – Megan Simmonds in 12.78 secs.  Heat 3 saw the appearance of Australia’s Michelle Jenneke  –  the heat was won by Kendra Harrison [USA] in 12.60 secs, while Michelle finished in 6th position, in a time of 13.11 secs. I thought at that stage that she would not proceed to the semi-final stage, but at the end of the heats, that time was good enough for her to qualify.  Heat 5 saw the comeback of  30 year old Sally Pearson. She won the heat in convincing fashion in a time of 12.72 secs, a wonderful return to serious competition after having to completely rebuild her form. However, our British commentators continued to give her not much of a chance of actually winning the event again because of the time that has passed, the recovery phase, self-coaching project, and so on – they felt that Williams and Harrison for far above all the other runners in the race.  Meanwhile, the 5th heat was won by Christina Manning [USA] in 12.87 secs. There was a disturbing fall during that race – the runner from Trinidad & Tobago [Deborah John] appeared to suffer a leg injury of some sort which caused her to crash right through the hurdle partway through the race, and she remained motionless on the track for some time after the race before being taken by stretcher for medical attention.

The Semi-finals of the 100 Hurdles followed later on in the evening program.  Sally Pearson [voted as the world athlete of the year a few years ago] stepped up to the first of three semi-finals, with the first two in each race guaranteed a start in the final plus the two fastest non-qualifiers. Kendra Harrison holds the current world record of 12.20 secs. Sally came to the track, looking very serious, and totally concentrated on the task ahead of her, and when introduced to the crowd, we received a very mild obligatory smile.

Semi-final One was won by Sally Freeman in 12.53 secs, a convincing win , which certainly enhanced her credentials, and left looking a lot happier than before the race, and admitted to the English interviewers [who had given her little hope of progressing] that she had been afraid before of losing, the depth of concentration totally on avoiding that occurring. The next place-getter in that race was Nia Ali of the USA in 12.79 secs.

Semi-final 2 included Michelle Jennecke  –  the race was won by Christina Manning [USA] in 12.71 secs, while our girl, after a strong start in which she appeared to be running with confidence, faded in the latter stages of the race to finish back in 7th position in 13.25 secs.

Semi-final 3 was somewhat of a sensation. A false start, which appeared to involve Harrison, but ended as a ‘warning’ only to the German runner [Dutkiewicz] created a momentary ‘scare’ in the stadium. All got away at a second attempt, but then Harrison crashed through one of the early hurdles which cost her the race, and almost, a place in the final. It was won by Dawn Harper Nelson [USA] in 12.63 secs, with Harrison finishing 3rd in 12.86 secs. Harrison qualified for the Final in 8th position, one hundredth of a second ahead of Norway’s unlucky Isabelle Pederson. Almost a sensation!!!

In the overall wash-up of the event, prior to the final, Michelle Jenneke finished in 21st position of the 24 semi-finalists.

Women’s Long Jump Final

The twelve finalists included Australia’s Brooke Stratton, who had qualified in 11th position. Brooke has jumped over 7 metres in the past, but in this field, she would probably need to do that gain. In fact, she would get past the cut-off point after the first round today, and managed to legally complete all of today’s six jumps  –  6.27, 6.54, 6.67, 6.55, 6.67 and 6.64  –  sitting in 6th position, with her last jump, Brooke was still in a position to create an upset, if she could jump to her potential. Unfortunately that didn’t occur, and she would finish  in 6th position with her best jump of 6.67 metres. Again, we only briefly saw Brooke, her final jump near the end of the event!

The winner was Brittany Reese of the USA – of her six jumps, only two were recorded, the best of those being enough to win at 7.02 metres. She was ahead of Darya Klishina [Authorised Neutral Athletes] with 6.97, and Tianna Bartoletta [6.96]

Women’s 800 Metre Semi-finals

There were three semi-finals for this event, with the first two in each race plus the two fastest losers into the Final.

The current World Record is 1.53.28.

Semi-final 1:  won by Ajee Wilson n[USA] in 1.59.21 from Melissa Bishop [Canada] in 1.59.56

Semi-final 2, we witnessed the irresistible strength of the South African runner, Caster Semenya [the current Olympic champion] who powered away in the closing stages, to win in a time of 1.58.90, ahead of Angelicka Chichocka [Poland] in 1.59.32. The English girl, Lynsey Sharp finished 4th, and qualified for the final, but was then disqualified for interference near the end of the race. Her position was reinstated after an appeal by the Great Britain team.

Semi-final 3 went to Francine Niyonsaba  [BDI] in 2.01.11, ahead of Margaret Nyairera Wambui [Kenya] in 2.01.19, with Brenda Martinez of the USA in third spot.

Men’s 1500 Semi-finals

These races featured two Australians, who on the basis of their heat runs might have expected a better outcome than what eventuated. The first five in each race would go automatically to the Final.

In Semi-final 1,  Luke Matthews [Australia] came into the race as the fastest qualifier, but with a lap to go, and running at around 5th or 6th,  he found the pace too strong for him, and he would finish back in  7th place, his time of 3.40.91 not good enough to qualify for the final.  That heat was won by Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Knya] in 3.41.10, ahead of Asbel Kiprop [Kenya] in 3.40.14

Semi-final 2 was won by Jakub Holusa [Cze]  in 3.38.05, ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot [Kenya] in 3.38.24.  Australia’s Jordan Williamsz ran a similar race to Matthews, was around 8th to 10th position for the bulk of the race, moved into 7th at the bell lap but couldn’t come on with it this time, eventually finishing in 8th position in a time of 3.38.93. In fact, had he managed a couple more strides, he could have made the final, being 25/100 behind the 7th runner, who qualified.

Men’s Hammer Throw Final

For the twelve finalists, their competition was held in vastly contrasting conditions to that experienced two days earlier in the pouring rain.

Despite a bit of seeming tight tussle evident towards the end of the competition,  the eventual winner from Poland –  Pawel Fajdek  never really looked to be challenged, and would win his second World Championship in the event. His winning throw was 79.81 metres, ahead of Valeriy Pronkin [ANA} with 78.16, and Wojciech Nowicki [Poland] on 78.03. The Polish team are in fact fast moving up the medal tally ladder, having successes over a range of areas. As already noted earlier, the ANA nation represents the ‘Authorised Neutral Athletes’, a team consisting of 19 approved Russian athletes.

Women’s 3000 metres Steeplechase Final

There were 14 starters in this Final, including Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze, and six Kenyan runners [although not all running for their birth nation these days]. After ac lap of the race, LaCaze was back at tail of the field, and would generally remain in that area, gradually falling back to the rear of a second group later as the field spread out, with the stronger runners increasing the pace.

An amazing and costly event [for the athlete involved] occurred, I think at either or second pass over the water jump. The highly fancied and experienced Kenyan runner, Jepkemoi, came to the water jump, and in a brain fade or something, forgot to jump it, running around instead – which meant she had to turn around, retrace her steps, and create a new run-up in order to get over the water jump. That obviously cosy her 50 or 60 metres, and alternatively, the race itself. This was followed by a fall from another athlete later in the race. After four minutes, the Olympic champion, Ruth Jebet [Bahrain] took the lead and retained that role for a few laps. Meanwhile, Jepkemoi was making up ground from her mishap, and was soon back up with the leaders, but it was assumed that the effort of making up lost ground would prove too much in the end. In fact, she hit the front, temporarily as the last lap was being run, with Jebet now out of it, but was running ‘out of gas’  –  in the final analysis, the two Americans would run the East Africans off their feet, in a stunning result.

The Gold Medal went to Emma Coburn [USA]  in the time of 9.02.58, ahead of her compatriot, Courtney Frerichs, in 9.03.77. The luckless Hyvin Kiyemg Jepkemoi, finished third in 9.04.03, followed by Beatrice Chepkeoch [Kenya] and Ruth Jebet [Bahrain].  Genevieve LaCaze finished back in 12th position, in a time of 9.26.25, with just the Canadian runner behind her.

Women’s 200 metre final

This Final concluded the day’s program, and featured 8 starters. A top field including the defending champion, Dafne Schippers, and the Olympic champion,the US’s Deejay Stevens. The world record for the distance is 21.34 secs.

Dafne Schippers of the Nederlands, retained her title, winning the race in 22.05 secs, from the unlucky Maree-Josee Ta Lou [of the Ivory Coast, who picked second close finish to a Gold medal this week], her time was 22.08 secs, while thirds place went to Shaunea Miller-Uibo [Bahamas] in 22.15 secs. And as the British commentators bemoaned, it was ‘another 4th placing’ for a British athlete for Dina Asher-Smith.

So that leaves us with two days of competition.

Day Nine,  Saturday, 11th August

 On this penultimate of the Championships – a sunny day with a very healthy weekend crowd in attendance, we would witness  more ‘scripts’ go astray, a former ‘winner’ resurrect herself with a brilliant victory, and Great Britain achieve greatness in a relay.

For today’s events, I’m  not going to report along the lines of the normal daily chronological sequence of the program, which was again divided into a morning and evening session, but instead go first to the event that brought this Australian scribe the most pleasure and emotion of the week, shortly after 5am, on Sunday morning, my time.

The Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles Final

This event was one of a number of finals that ended Day 9, and featured Australia’s Sally Pearson, whose story is briefly summarised below, in the ABC report following the race. The World record of 12.20 secs was held by Kendra Harrison [USA], one of the 8 finalists in race. The field also included the Rio Olympic Silver medallist, Nia Ali [USA], and Holland’s Nadine Visser [who finished 7th in the Heptathlon early in the week.

As with her semi-final run, Sally, when introduced to the capacity crowd, ‘responded’ with just a weak smile, having come out to the track looking extremely concentrated, and serious [her usual pre-race demeanour].

Once again, as we waited for the starter’s pistol to send the eight girls on their way,. I would be mesmerised by the complete and utter silence in the stadium [more evident I think with the sprint events], but certainly evidence of total respect for the competitors.

The Final was over in 12.59 seconds  –  and the girl over the line first  her resurrection complete –  was Australia’s Sally Pearson. I’ll allow the ABC online reporter to briefly tell the story of Sally and her race..

From ABC news this morning [Sunday] – Sally Pearson has capped an extraordinary comeback from injury by winning gold in the 100m hurdles at the world athletics championships in London.  Competing at her first major global championship since 2013 and having overcome serious wrist, hamstring and achilles injuries, the Australian powered away from the field to win in 12.59 seconds.  “That was bloody hard,” an emotional Pearson said shortly after crossing the finish line. “I’ve worked so hard, I don’t know what has just happened out there. “I’m so tired but I’m sure it will sink in soon.  “It’s been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal. “My husband is in the crowd there somewhere, I’ll try and find him and give him a hug soon. “This is just so incredible, to be a world champion again.” Her long-time rival Dawn Harper-Nelson from the United States was second in 12.63 and Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz claimed the bronze in 12.72. World record holder Kendra Harrison from the US finished out of the medals in fourth place.

It was a third major 100m hurdles title for Pearson, who had previously won gold at the 2011 world championships in Daegu and the 2012 London Olympics. The 30-year-old joined 400m runner Cathy Freeman and 400m hurdler Jana Pittman as the only Australians to have won two world track and field titles.

Her next challenge will be winning a third successive Commonwealth title on home soil on the Gold Coast next year. After injury denied Pearson of the opportunity to defend her Olympic title last year in Rio, she decided to coach herself.  It proved to be masterstroke.  She became the favourite for the world title when she clocked the fastest semi-final time of 12.53 on Friday evening and carried that dominance into the final.

So there you have it  –  a moment, not just an emotional one for the winner herself, but also for this viewer and writer, and a popular win in the stadium at London where Sally’s rivals included four world-class Americans.

And later  –  it was wonderful to hear for the only time this week, to hear the Australian National Anthem played in the London stadium – it has been a lean week despite of personal outstanding performances.

Women’s High Jump Final

In the hour before the Hurdles final, a very entertaining Women’s High Jump final was in progress, and while there were no Australians in the field of 12 finalists, I thoroughly enjoyed the almost full coverage of the evenrt, with competitors including  the Olympic champion [Ruth Beitia], the defending World champion [Airine Palsyte],  the world youth champion of 2015 [Michaela Hruba],  the Olympic silver medalist [Mirula Demireva], a junior US champion [Vashti Cunningham], and a representative of the Authorised Neutral Athletes team [of 19 Russians], Maria Lasitskene who had achieved the 5th highest jump in history of 2.06 metres.

With the height bar starting at 1.84 metres, that height would not be reached today, but the winning jump was not far behind, after nine of the contestants had gradually being eliminated from the event,  we had a tense battle between Lasitskene, nthe Ukraine’s Levchenko and Poland’s Cicwinko.

The High Jump was eventually won by Maria Lasitskene [ANA] with a leap of 2.03 metres – she did make three attempts at 2.08 metres after victory was assured but was unsuccessful on each occasion. Second place went to Yuliia Levchenko [Ukraine] 2.01 metres, followed by Kamila Cicwinko [Poland] 1.99 metres. The 4th to 6th placings achieved 1.95 metres, 7th to 11th, 1.92 metres, while the first competitor to go out was the Olympia champion, Ruth Beitia [Spain] jumping only 1.88 metres.

As the winner was not officially representing Russia, the Anthem for that nation could not be placed – instead we had a short but inspiring piece of Russian classical music [which this classical music lover must admit to not actually recognising].

Men’s Decathlon Final:  Disciplines 6-10  [110 m Hurdles; Discus; Pole Vault; Javelin; and, the 1500 metres run.

We left yesterday’s  Decathlon events, with the three leading competitors being Kevin Mayer [4478 pts], Kai Kazmirek [4421], and Rico Freimuth [4347 pts], with Australia’s Cedric Duble 18th position  [4070 points]. There were 27 athletes of the original 35 left at that point  – by the time we got to the 1500 final event, there would be just 20 Decathlon athletes remaining in the competition.

The 6th discipline today was the 110 metre Hurdles –  consisting of four laps which resulted in wins for Janek Oiglane [Estonia] in 14.56 [906 pts] ; Pau Tonnesen [Francwe] 14.57 [902 pts];  Jorge Urena [Spain] 14.15 [955 pts]; and Damian Warner [Canada] 13.63 [1023 pts].  Cedric Dubler ran in Heat 3 where he finished 6th in 14.92 secs, earning him 859 points..  Leaders after 6 events were Kevin Mayer [France]: 5485 pts; Rico Freimuth [Germany] 5377; and Damien Warner [Canada] 5370, while Cedric Dubler was sitting in 18th position with 4929 pts. As a rough estimate, each additional gain of half a second is worth approximately 65 points.

The Discus event was divided into two groups. The topthree performances in this vent were Rico Freimuth [Germany], with a best throw of 51.17 metres [895 pts]; followed by Oleksiy Kasyanov [Ukraine] with 48.79 [845 pts], and Martin Roe [Norway] with 48.24 [834 pts]. Cedric Dubler  finished in 19th position with a throw of 40.85 metres [worth 682 pts].

The leaders after 7 events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [6296 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [6272 pts]. 3. Oleksiy Kasyanov [6095 pts], while Cedric Dubler fell back to 20th position with 5611 pts.

The Pole Vault discipline would prove more difficult for some, with by this stage, at the end of which we would see the field reduced to 23 competitors.  Undertaken in two groups, Cedric Dubler finished in 6th position in Group A, with a best vault of  4.90 metres  – overall in the event, he finished in 9th position, earning 890 points. The three leading pole vaulters were Pau Tonnesen [Spain] 5.40 metres [1035 pts], followed by Zach Ziemek [USA] 5.10 [941 pts], and   Janek Oiglane [Estonia ] 5.10 [941 pts].

The leaders after eight events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [7237 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [7121 pts]. 3. Kai Kazmirek [Germany] on 7021 pts.  Cedric Dubler improved his position  to 15th position with 6491 pts.

The Javelin throw, the penultimate event in the Decathlon competition followed. This was obviouslky not Cedric’s strong event  – he finished down in 20th position with a throw of 52.10 metres [earning him 620 pts]. The three leading Javelin throws came from Janek Oiglane [Estonia] 71.73 [916 pts]; Adam Sebastian Helcelet [Cze] 71.56 [913 pts] and Ashley Bryant [GBR] with 67.97 [858 pts].

The leaders after nine events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [8067 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [7894 pts]. 3. Kai Kazmirek  [7796]. .  Cedric Dubler’s position continues to move up and down –   now in 19th spot on 7111 pts.

At this stage, we now have just 23 competitors in the competition, but by the start of the final event, that number had been reduced to 20 men.

The Decathlon 1500 metres final.  This event would normally be divided into two or more heats, however, it was decided to run all remaining competitors in the one race. Essentially, Kevin Mayer simply needed to complete the race in retain his lead in the event based on the various 1500 metre capabilities of those nearest to him on the leader’s board. In terms of 1500 metres, it was a very mundane and slowly run race, with the exception perhaps of the Japanese winner, who would finish almost 4 seconds ahead of anyone else who was no challenge to the event leaders because of his overall position near the tail of the board.  The result of that race saw  Akihiko Nakamura [Japan] win in 4.22.62 [794 pts],  ahead of Jorge Urena [Spain] 4.26.46 [768 pts] and Ashley Bryant [GBR] 4.27.15 [763 pts].  Kevin Mayer earned 701 pts for his 8th position, sand Rico Freimuth, 641 pts [17th in the race]. Cedric Dubler finished in 19th position, earning 617 pts for his time of 4.50.31, with only one runner behind him –  with half a lap to go, Cedric was to be seen looking behind him to make there was at least one other who would come in after he did, having been near the rear of the field for much of the race.

Decathlon Final results  –  20 competitors completed the 10 discipline program, with the predicted winner from early in the competition being Kevin Mayer [France] on 8768 points, followed by Rico Freimuth [Germany] on  8564 pts, and Kai Kazmirek [Germany] on 8488 pts.  The Brits Ashley Bryant finished in 11th position on 8049 pts, while Australia’s Cedric Dubler finished 18th on 7728 pts.  There were a total of 20 competitors completed the 10 discipline event..

The Men’s Javelin Final would be the last field event for the day.

The usual 12 finalists going for the medals, with 8 of those men progressing to the final round.

The three medal winners were  Johannes Vetter [Germany] winning Gold with a best throw of 89.89 metres, which was in fact his 1st attempt, of 6 throws.  The Silver went to Jakub Vadlejch [Cze]  with a best throw of 89.73 metres, while the Bronze was collected by Petr Frydrych [Cze] with 88.32 metres. Australia’s Hamish Peacock, who narrowly missed the final, finished in 14th position overall, with a throw of 82.46 metres.

The Men’s 5000 Metres Final  –  eagerly looked to, another swansong for the great Mo Farah, winner of the 10,000 and expected to complete the double today. However, as with other ‘scripts’ throughout the week,  something turned out differently. Farah was actually going for four championships in a row, in this final of around 12 ½ laps, with 14 starters lining up. The 5,000 metres world record stands at 12.37.35. One of those finalist was Australia’s Patrick Tiernan –  he had run a very disappointing and out of character race in the 10,000 metres, but showed vast improvement and commitment in the heat of this event. We’d not see this race in its entirety due to the ongoing coverage of  the closing stages of the Women’s High Jump, and the Men’s Javelin.

Unusually, Mo Farah went up towards the front of the field early, and would stay around that area for the bulk of the race.  Tiernan was 7th at the end of the 1st lap, then with 8 laps to go was in 8th position. With Mo in front after 6 minutes of the race, there seemed to be a lot of indecision, with no-one prepared to commit to take the field on

Eventually, the man who took that challenge was the Australian – we came back from the high jump, at the 3,000 metre mark, to find Tiernan in front of the field by about 10 metres, and he would retain that position for about 1200 metres, with Mo leading small of runners behind him. Sadly it was not expected that Patrick would be able to withstand the finishing speed of Mo and the other African runners – as a viewer, one just had a faint hope that he might be able to hold on. However, from the 800 metre mark, he has ‘done his dash’ and quickly seems to be swallowed by a number of runners. In the final lap, it is Mo against three Ethiopian runners, and the African born American, Chelimo, and as we come to 50 metres from the line, Farah appears to be struggling –  will he get there with the line approaching far too quickly. Well, to the shock of the British crowd, the Ethiopian obviously hadn’t read the British script, and the GBR runner was beaten into 2nd place, by Muktar Edris, in a time of 13.32.79, well outside of the world record [not that Edris was concerned by that]. Mo Farah’s time was 13.33.32, while Chelimo of the USA took the Bronze medal, in 13.33.30, a very tight finish, with Mo just surviving for the Silver medal.

Meanwhile, Patrick Tiernan, after what I considered to have been a brave attempt to take on the field, dropped right back in that final lap, top finish in 11th position, in a time of 13.40.01, a commendable performance.

Like Usain Bolt, after his 100 metre loss, Mo Farah seem to get more of the crowd adulations following the race, but I guess they regarded him in the same way as the British commentators were speaking of him – as a living legend, certainly, though African born, and apparently living in the US these days, the British regarded him as theirs!! Fair enough.

And now to the relays!! Always a source of excitement, although unlike our swimmers, Australia seldom has much if any of a role in athletic relays these days!

Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relays

The two Heats of this race were run during the morning session today.  Australia did not have a representative team.

Heat 1 was won by the USA [41.84 secs] from Great Britain & NI, Switzerland and the Netherlands [those four teams qualified for the Final] – the losers in the heat were France, Ghana, and Ecuador with Nigeria not finishing..

Heat 2 was won by Germany [42.34secs] ahead of Jamaica, Brazil, and Trinidad & Tobago. Ukraine and Kazakhstan did not qualify, China was disqualified,  and the Bahamas failed to finish.

The Final was held at the end of the evening session –  The Gold Medal went to the team from USA in 41.82 secs [Aatiyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Morotake Akinosun, and Torie Bowie] ahead of  Great Britain [42.12] and Jamaica [42.19]. Other teams in order were Germany, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil and the Nederlands.

Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relays

Australia had a team of runners in this event, again run with two heats in the morning, and the final at the end of the evening program,

Heat 1 was won by the USA [37.70], ahead of Great Britain & NI, Japan and Turkey [those four teams going through to the final] while out of the action were Trinidad & Tobago, Netherlands, Australia and Barbados. The Aussies finished in 7th position, in 38.88 secs, their four runners being Trae Williams, Tom Gamble, Nicholas Andrews and Rohan Browning, their appearance at the Championships being rather short lived.

The final of the Men’s event  –  to say the least, another sensation.  Jamaica went in as the world record holders, the team unbeaten in ten years, while Usain Bolt in his last ‘official’ race was going for his 12th world title. Although the Jamaican team had not had the success of past years at these championships, they were still [with Bolt at the helm] expected to win. Again, somebody didn’t read the script. Before the race, Bolt was performing his usual crowd entertaining antics, nothing unusual for his bubbling personality.   In the final, all changes of the eight seemed to go okay, but as we came to the last leg, it was obvious that Jamaica, under Bolt in that last 100 metres, were going to struggle to beat the British and/or the Americans who were both running extremely well. Then disaster struck – soon after taking the baton from Yohan Blake, Bolt faltered, the stopped and fell to the track clutching his leg  –  the race was over for Jamaica, and a career for Usain Bolt.

And to the joy of the British crowd, it was a second Gold medal at the championships [finally, in their eyes] with the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team winning the event in 37.47 secs, ahead of USA [37.52] and Japan [38.04].  The GBR team consisted of Chijinda Wah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, while the US team was made up of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Jaylen Bacon and Christian Coleman. The other teams in finishing order were China, France, Canada, Turkey, while Jamaica did not complete the race. As Bolt seemed to be walking much better after the race, it seems his problem was largely one of cramp.

Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Heats

Australia fielded a team in this event, competing in the first heat  – Anneliese Rubie, Ella Connelly, Lauren Wells, and Morgan Mitchell.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this race, but the Australians failed to qualify for the final,  finishing 0.43 of a second behind the 4th placed team.

Heat 1  saw victory go to the USA in 3.21.66, from Great Britain & NI, Botswana and France, while the other non-qualifying places were filled by Australia and Canada, while India and the Netherlands were disqualified.

Heat 2  was won by Jamaica in 3.24.64, from Nigeria, Germany and Poland [those teams qualified for the final], followed by Italy, Ukraine and South Africa, with the Bahamas team failing to finish.

The two 4 x 400 Meter Finals were scheduled to be the final two  events on the championship program in the early hours of Monday morning, Australian time.

Day Ten,  Sunday, 12th August

An early start today, with the entire morning, going into the afternoon devoted to the walking racesa

50 Kilometre Walk for Men and Women

We have two separate races, but taken place together, although the women would finish a considerable time behind the men. In the Men’s event, we had a starting field of 48 walkers, while for the Women’s event – which was the first running of the event, there was a very disappointing field of just seven walkers. The best of central London was opened up for the event, with some of the principal on the 2 kilometre route [of 25 laps each], included St. James Park Lake, Buckingham Palace, The Royal Park, Trafalgar Square, the Admiralty Arch, and other sites.

Men’s 50 Kms Walk.  As I watched the start of this event, I soon realised that the Australian entrant, Jared Tallent was not included amongst the competitors, and yet he had been listed to compete. It seems I had missed the news of a few days ago, on the 9 August   –  Australia’s champion race walker and perennial medallist, Jared Tallent, had been forced to pull out of the world championships, with a hamstring strain. Australia’s performances [at that stage, a few days ago] had been underwhelming, so losing the Rio Olympic Silver Medallist from the 50 Km race walk was a setback to Australia’s limited medal hopes…”. That was certainly a disappointment, as he had always been a reliable and consistent competitor for Australia, and on numerous occasions had missed medals coming in behind Russian athletes who were later found to have cheated  – in fact there were no Russian walkers in this race, because that area of their athletes program had proved to be extremely toxic, in respect to drug use.

In any case, today’s race would be dominated by the French holder of the world record for the vent, Yohan Diniz, who would go to the front very early in the race, and soon dominate it for most of the journey. Some of his time splits as the race progressed were 48 mins.47 secs at 11 kms;  1hr.8mins,.51 secs at 14 kms;  moving at 8-9% faster than the rest of the field; at the 20 km point he was  in front of the chasing pack by 2 mins, 10secs;  a time of 1hr.48 mins.24 secs at 25 kms [the halfway mark], and so on. At the 2 hour point, he appeared to slow briefly, but after a kilometre or so, quickly picked up the pace again, with a lead of 3mins 7 secs at the 29 km mark.  His 30 kms came up in 2.09.81, and at 37 kms, it was 2.39.10, not on world schedule, but nevertheless, still moving at a fast pace, while holding one red warning against him [incurred around the 25 km stage] for much of the distance up to then.  Certainly, it was an aggressive walk by Diniz,

This question of disqualification was discussed on a number of occasions by the commentators, with reference to new technological advancements been made to improve the credibility of the sport, such as sensor pads and shoes, to constantly monitor walking styles and adherence to the rules, etc; there was even the proposal to introduce a sin bin system in preference to the straight out disqualification which at times seems severely. They made reference to an occasion I witnessed at the Sydney Stadium during the 2000 Olympics, when Australian walker Jane Saville, walked into the stadium, to potentially win the Gold medal, only to be disqualified as she came through the stadium tunnel, a moment I will never forget, watching her approach on the big screen!!

Anyway, at 46 kms, Diniz’s average km time was  4 mins 10 secs, and was leading his two nearest challengers [both Japanese] by 17 seconds, although they themselves were being challenged for one of the medals by a Ukranium walker who was at that stage the fastest walker on the road, apart from Diniz. But that challenge was negated in the last lap, as the Ukranian realised he could not catch the Japanese walkers. Meanwhile, Diniz goes into the 40th km at 3 hrs 25 mins 1 sec, by now certain of the Gold, and surviving the walk, in contrast to his Rio Olympic event, where he was severely affected by heatstroke, yet still managed to finish 8th before being hospitalised. Om this occasion however, there were no ‘hiccups’, and Diniz would go on to a convincing win, smiling as he did so, and draping the French flag around his neck over that last 100 metres or so.

Yohan Diniz won the Walk in a time of 3.33.12, which was the second fastest in history [behind his own world record], about 8 minutes ahead of the two Japanese walkers [Hirooki Arai and Kai Kobayashi, who had walked together for the bulk of the race, with Igor Glavan of the Ukraine next to finish, 23 seconds later.

Of the 48 actual starters, 33 would complete the course, 9 were disqualified, and another 6 did not complete the course.

Women’s 50 Kms Walk.  As indicated above, just seven starters for this race, and before 10 kms had been covered, the field was reduced to just 6, with the disqualification of one of the three Americans [the former US record holder in the event, Erin Talcott. Another two of the women would not complete the course, because they were beyond the required time limit at the end.

After 25 kms, the time was 2.02.18 for the two leaders from Portugal and China, however the Portugese soon took the race on, and after three hours of walking, she had a 10 minute lead, which would eventually end up at around 3 minutes of the race. Inez Henriques [Portugal] commanded the second half of the race, with a powerful performance, and from a long way out, she was heading for a world record, even though women had not been walking this distance for very long [the original record was 4.08.26].  Henriques eventually won in the time of 4.05.56 [the first World Record of these championships], ahead of the two Chinese walkers  –  Hang Yin [4.08.58] and Shuqing Yin, a lap further behind in 4.20.49. America’s Kathleen Burnett was the only other to complete the race, in 4.21.51.

Women’s 20 Km Walk Final

This race was held over the same course as the 50 km races, and would have 61 starters, including three Australian girls  –  Claire Tallent [wife of Jared Tallent, who’d withdrawn from the 50 km walk due to injury], Beki Smith and Regan Lamble.  Unfortunately, apart from some early ‘glances’ we would not see anything of our three girls throughout the race coverage, they simply got too far back, after beginning the race early in the second group behind the main pack, and then gradually drifting further and further behind. At around the 5 kms mark, Lamble appeared to be the best placed Australian but she soon disappeared.  The appearance of the speed of the early group almost seemed as though they were jogging, rather than walking  – it certainly is a fine line for judging purposes on that score alone!

At 32 minutes, there was a clear breakaway pack of 10 walkers, and as the race progressed, that number would gradually dwindle to 8, then 5, and finally a race between just four possible medallists. It was towards the end of the race that we saw a couple of the oft-repeating tragedies of the walking competition  – a few kilometres from the finish, the Russian walker [representing the ANA, Afanseva] who had looked to be suffering under extreme duress for much of the race after being a part of the original leading group of 10, was disqualified some kilometres from the finish, and her distress was evident. But worse was to come. The leading quartet going into the last 2 km lap were two Chinese, a Mexican and an Italian walker, although the latter seemed the most likely to miss a medal. Both of the Chinese girls has one red card against [three cards meant disqualification]. With less than a km to go, a Chinese competitor received two more red cards, but she did not realise, nor was officially told initially –  it was even possible, in a close finish, that she would cross the line first.  As the quarter reached the last 200 metres, an official waved the disqualification flag at her – she either didn’t notice, or ignored him, and kept going  –  until another official step out in front of her, as she was about to enter the final 50 metres in a minor medal position. One can barely imagine the reaction that would have had on her [Xiuzhi Lyu], it can be a very cruel sport sometimes.

While all this was about to occur, that battle for the medals took place as the leaders lapped Australia’s Claire Tallent [almost the first sign we’d had of a former champion walker].

The race was eventually won by Jiayu Yang [China] in 1.26.18, one second ahead of Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez [Mexico] with Italy’s Antonella Palmisano a further 15 seconds back. The win for Yang would have been tempered a little as soon as she realised that her fellow Chinese competitor who had walked with her for almost the entire race, had been pulled out just before the finishing line.

Of the 60 starters in this race, 52 completed the course, 6 girls were disqualified, and 2 did not complete the race. The three Australians were placed as follows  –  Regan Lamble, 22nd, in 1.31.30; Beki Smith, 38th, in 1.35.31, and Claire Tallent, 43rd, in 1.37.05. The television had initially indicated that Regan had been disqualified, but that appears to have been incorrect. It should be noted, that Claire Tallent gave birth to her first son, less than three months ago, so to even have entered today’s race, was something of an achievement.

Men’s 20 Km Walk Final

This race followed on from the women’s event, but certainly as far as Australia was concerned, there was no television coverage of it, which I found disappointing, as we had Australian competitors in the race. They were Dane Bird-Smith and Rhydian Cowley.  There were a total of 64 starters, of whom 58 would finish the race, 3 were disqualified, and 3 failed to complete the course.

From SBS online news, the following report of the race must suffice for now……..Australian Dane Bird-Smith was happy with a personal best, but not so much with the way the men’s 20km walk panned out at the world athletics championships.  The 25-year-old stripped nine seconds off his PB, clocking one hour 19 minutes and 28 seconds on Sunday, which ended up being good enough for sixth spot in a race won by Colombian Eider Arevalo in 1:18:53.  The minor medals went to Russian Sergei Shirobokov, competing in London as an affiliated athlete, and Brazil’s Caio Bonfim.

Having claimed a breakthrough bronze medal at last year’s Rio Olympics, Bird-Smith arrived in London confident of another podium finish. But it wasn’t to be.  “I can’t be disappointed with sixth in a PB but it wasn’t the race I wanted to race and I am a bit disappointed in that,” said Bird-Smith, who received two cautions from the judges during the race on a hot, sunny day on The Mall in central London.  “I had a lot more to give and I could have raced it better on my own, but I was influenced by what the other guys were doing around the track.  “I just couldn’t find the rhythm and I was a target in that pack.”

Fellow Australian Rhydian Cowley was 56th in 1:30:40.

In fact looking at the final times of the top place-getters, Bird-Smith finished just 24 seconds behind the bronze medallist, and 35 seconds behind the Gold Medallist, so I think we can regard his performance as outstanding.

And so began the final session of the Championships, that would start and finish with a number of medal ceremonies, which included a number of British athletes, after a very lean week for the host nation. Meanwhile, the Championship mascot, which I think was a ‘hedgehog’ proved to be a very active and popular ‘character’ throughout the week, and seemed to be as well accepted by the athletes, as he [?] was by the large crowds each day.

The Men’s High Jump Final got this session underway, and proved to be quite entertaining  –  no Australians involved, but I enjoyed the competition nevertheless.

With 11 starters [the Chinese finalist, Wang Hu,. Having withdrawn from the event], the bar was set initially at 2.20 metres The field include former world champion, Bohdan Bondarenko [Ukraine], Britain’s former 2012 medal winner, Robert Grabarz, and Bryan McBride [2017 US champion].  All would manage to clear the opening level [eventually], but we saw four men go out at 2.25 metres,  three at 2.29 metres, while the Bulgarian competitor [Ivanov] withdrew due to injury after his first attempt. One of the happiest men on course, was the Bronze Medallist, from Syria, Majd Eldin Ghazal – there was not much representation from his homeland, for obvious reasons, so he was obviously ecstatic to have reached that level.

The battle for Gold came down between the Russian competitor, Dail Lysenko [competing under the ANA banner], and Qatar’s brilliant high jumper, Mutaz Essa Barshim, who would eventually take the title with a final leap of 2.35 metres, with Lysenko on 2.32.  Barshim did make three unsuccessful attempts at 2.40 metres, after the win had been secured.

Women’s Discus Final

Like yesterday’s Women’s Hurdles final, this would be one of the few events, that as an Australian supporter, one could get particularly excited about.  The field of  12 discus throwers in the final included Australia’s Dani Stevens.  Formerly Dani Samuels, she had won this event in 2009 in the Berlin championships. Writing the other day in Melbourne’s media, Scott Gullan said “Two months after a heart-breaking fourth at the Rio Olympic Games, the Australian discus champion decided she had to watch footage from the event. It confirmed what she thought had happened. ’I had a look at the footage and in the qualifying that was really, really tough, but you can kind of see it on my face, I was determined, you would have guessed that I was going to do it then. Then in the final, I was red in the face. You could see it on my face that I was throwing out of fear, not out of aggression or happiness and those things that work for me. I made it my mission this year not to throw out of fear of fouling or failing’.  The new motto certainly worked in qualifying in London, where Stevens automatically qualified for the final with her first throw, an impressive 65.56m.”

Well, there was no evident fear today, despite the fact she was up against the holder of two Olympic titles, unbeaten in 2016 and red hot favourite, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, whom nobody expected it would be possible to defeat.  Dani Stevens legal throws were 64.23m, 65.46m, 66.82m, 66.59m, and 69.64m.  Against that, the Croation champion had four recorded throws at 69.30m, 70.31m, 70.28m, and 69.81m. No other competitor came near to either Stevens or Perkovic, and Australia would gain only its second medal of these championships, a wonderful Silver to Dani Stevens, with the Gold of course going to Sandra Perkovic.  The Bronze medal went to France’s Melina Robert-Michon, with a best throw of 66.21m. While we didn’t have our Anthem played, it was great to see an Australian on the medal rostrum.

Five more track events to complete the program  –  and once again, scripts would be thrown out the door, and some unexpected results thrown up.

Women’s 5000 Metres Final

There were 15 starters in this 12 ½ lap race, where the world record, set back in 2008 was 14.11.15.

The field included three Kenyans, three Ethiopans, three Americans, and two each from Great Britain and the Netherlands. The run-away winner of the 10,000 metres event a few days ago, Almaz Ayana, was anticipated as a likely winner, with her main opposition being Kenya’s Obiri, who had a child in 2015. The Brits big hope was the luckless Laura Muir who after a not very promising start, would finish strongly.

The race began at a painfully slow pace., where the runners appeared to be almost jogging [described by one of the commentators as ‘pathetic’]. Eventually, Ayana tires of this, and goes to the lead, but she is a reluctant pacemaker on this occasion, and there is no evident surging going on, except that the three Kenyans and three Ethiopians are dominating the leading group.  At around the 1600 metres mark, Ayana appears intimidating as the gap widens with the rest of the field, with only Obiri willing to take up the challenge. They are 50-70 metres in front of the others, but one wonders if Obiri has got more in her legs  – this is a real spectacle watching these two African runners, a brilliant exhibition of powerful distance running in what is now a ‘two-horse’ race. Ayare can’t shake Obiri off, who is stalking her constantly –  gets in front of the little Ethiopian in the back straight on the last lap, but Ayana responds, and one anticipates that she will soon burst away from her ‘stalker’  –  but suddenly, Obiri has hit the front, and while Ayana tries to respond, the former streaks away in the last 100 metres, burning Ayana off, literally thrashing the Ethiopian in that final 8o metres or so.

It is a wonderful effort by Kenya’s Hellen Onsando Obiri, to win in 14.34.86, ahead of the vanquished 10,000 winner, Almaz Ayana [14.40.35],  with the European runner, Sifan Hassan [Netherlands] snatching the Bronze medal away from the next group of Africans, in 14.42.73.  A courageous run by Britain’s Laura Muir saw her finish close up in 6th position, in 14.52.07.

Women’s 800 Metres Final

There were 8 finalists in this race, for which the existing world record was 1.53.28. The field included the sometime controversial South African runner, Caster Semenya, who has won 28 races t the 800 metre level, but it was felt might be suspect today as it was her 6th race in 10 days. The commentators made reference of the fact that Semenya still had her doubters, and they were never likely to be silenced. Her problems arose after winning the 2009 championships.  From one of the Wikipedia sites, we read that  “Following her victory at the world championships [in 2009], questions were raised about her sex.  Having beaten her previous 800 m best by four seconds at the African Junior Championships just a month earlier,  her quick improvements came under scrutiny. The combination of her rapid athletic progression and her appearance culminated in the IAAF asking her to take a sex verification test to ascertain whether she was female.  The  IAAF says it was “obliged to investigate” after she made improvements of 25 seconds at 1500 m and eight seconds at 800 m – “the sort of dramatic breakthroughs that usually arouse suspicion of drug use”.  The sex test results were never published officially, however some results were leaked in the press and are widely discussed, resulting in claims about Semenya having an intersex trait.

Irrespective of that controversy, she lined up today with a strong field of 800 runners – including Niyonsaba [Burundi], Wanbui [Kenya], Chichocka [Poland], and the USA’s Ajee Wilson. At the end of the first lap, Semenya was sitting 5th behind the leading group headed by Niyonsaba – in fact that last 100 metres looked like it would be an all-out battle for the medals between up to five runners. But in the final straight, Semenya took over and powered to the front, and there was no chance of the others taking back the lead.  She won in the time of 1.55.16, ahead of Francine Niyonsaba [Burundi] in 1.55.92, and Ajee Wilson [USA] in 1.56.65. The Brit in the field, Lynsey Sharp finished back in 8th in 1.58.98.  Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui came in 4th position.

Men’s 1500 Metres Final

There were 12 finalists in this most prestigious race of all athletic championship, in which Australia, in past years has had much success, though not in recent times.

The world record was 3.26.00, and today’s field included three Kenyans who have shared the Gold and Silver in two of the past three championships. The three Kenyans would run together for much of the race, including the winner of the last three titles, Asbel Kiprop, and with 800 metres to go, they filled the first three spots and looked as though they would share the spoils. However in the closing 200 metres or so, challenges came from the competitors from Norway, Spain and the Czech Republic, and in the rush to the line, while his two fellow countrymen finished in the top two positions,  Kiprop faded back into 8th position. A partial ‘coming together’ of the Norway and Spanish runner just prior to the line may have been cause for an appeal, but nothing  came of it, so the Norwegian, Filip Ingebrigtsen, gained the Bronze medal in 3.34.53, behind Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Kenya] 3.33.61 and Timothy Cheruryot [Kenya] in 3.33.99. The 3rd Kenyan, Kiprop finished in 3.37.24.

Women’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

Eight countries to compete in the second last event of the program, for which the existing world record is 3.15.17, achieved by the USSR back in 1988.

By the third leg of the relay, the USA team were well ahead, and easily dominating the field. There was another disaster for the Jamaican team, with their second runner breaking down soon after she started to run with a hamstring injury.  Has been a very unsuccessful Championships for Jamaica, with only four medals won, including the Gold Medal in the sprint hurdle race.

The USA team [of Quanera Hayes, Allyson Felix, Shakima Winbly and Phyllis Francis] won easily in the time of 3.19.02, from Great Britain & NI [3.25.00], and Poland in third place [3.25.41].  The other teams followed in order of France, Nigeria, Germany, and Botswana, with Jamaica unable to complete the relay.

It’s interesting to note that America’s Allyson Felix has won 16 world championship medals, and yet she is not spoken off, nor received the broad fame of athletes such as Usain Bolt, or Mo Farah  – for one reason or another, she had not received the real credit deserved from her successes, certainly on an international basis anyway.

Men’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

This final to be completed by teams from France, Belgium, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain, Poland, USA, and Great Britain & NI. The existing world record belongs to the USA, from 1993 of 2.54.29, and was not considered to be under any real threat. The USA have won this event on five previous occasions, and lost it a couple of times due to disqualification or baton mishaps, and went into this race as hot favourites.

At the end of the first leg, the US held a narrow lead, while at the end of laps 2 and 3, the US, Trinidad & Tobago and Great Britain had cleared away from the other teams, and they would not be caught in the final lap.

We saw a close finish, but once again, the script of the  likely outcome was ignored by one of the US’s opponents, with a brilliant effort by the 4th Trinidad & Tobago runner, as he ran down the American, defeating the USA in the closing metres of the relay.

The final result saw Trinidad & Tobago first in 2.58.12, ahead of the USA [2.58.61], and Great Britain & NI [2.59.00. The medal winners were followed by Belgium, Spain, Cuba, Poland, and France. The members of the winning team were

The  remark was made after the race by one of the English commentators that ‘USA have the quality of runners, but do they have the heart as a quartet?”, He was suggesting that Trinidad & Tobago had the heart, they were able to place pressure on the Americans proving it could be done. Perhaps a little harsh, but it was certainly good to see another nation win a prestige relay race.

Brief reflections

The host nation completed the competition with just the six medals – four in the relays, and two to Mo Farah  – they had expected much more of their athletes. As for Australia  – our team was described as the biggest team ever, with the worst result yet it has been noted that prior to these championships, Australia had won 21 medals since the Beijing Olympics of which 11 were shared between Jared Tallent and Sally Pearson  – a fact that should set off alarm bells about the rest of the track and field team. A total of 62 went to London, and its planned to ensure the full quota of 90 athletes is entered for events at the Gold Coast in next year’s Commonwealth Games. We need to be  looking for some successors to those two athletes, and certainly both Australia and Great Britain will be looking for more favourable results and outcomes next April, particularly in light of the absence of the big non-Commonwealth nations.

In the meantime, one of the final activities held at the London Stadium on Day 10, after the final set of medal ceremonies were conducted,  was a special tribute ceremony held for Usain Bolt, described as the greatest sprinter in history. He gave the sport a huge boost, not necessarily as the saviour of athletics, but certainly a wonderful ambassador.  Anyway, he completed a ‘lap of honour’, mainly in the form of a walk, but it was a much more sedate and contemplative Usain Bolt out on the track tonight –  almost emotional scenes, he looked much more subdued than usual as he walked around to the applause of the crowd, as we brought down the curtain on a great track and field athlete. Bolt looked almost sad, I guess because the week had not turned out the way he had assumed it would as he’d planned and hoped for. He was certainly not as upbeat as he would have been had he won the 100 metres or relay, having got so used to winning, the whole show didn’t end the way he wanted to bow out.  It was wondered whether his response to this week’s disappointments might encourage him to ‘come back’.

In my view, the ‘ambassador’ connotation is an accurate reflection of his influence on the sport and his attitude to the sporting public  – something I feel that a couple of high profile Australian male tennis players could take serious heed of.

This has been an interesting project – aimed at compacting the overall week’s program into a consolidated summary, if not for the benefit of readers [though I hope what I’ve done is of value to interested readers] but for my own benefit and record. Like Sydney 2000, I would have loved to have offered my services as a volunteer at next April’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, in Queensland, but 17 years down the track, the energy levels to undertake such a role are sorely missing. I’m sure there will be another writing project undertaken.

[Bill Kirk  – 13th August, 2017]

 

SUMMARY OF MEDAL RESULTS [including Australian participation]

MEN’S EVENTS

Men’s 10,000 Metres Final

1.Mo Farah [Great Britain]: 26.49.51

2.Joshua Cheptegie [Uganda]:  26.49.94

3.Paul Kipagatich [Kenya]:  26.50.60

22.Patrick Tiernan [Australia]:  29.23.72

Men’s 100 Metres Final

1.Justin Gatlin [USA]:  9.92

2.Christian Coleman [USA]:  9.94

3.Usain Bolt [Jamaica]:  9.95

4.Yohan Blake [Jamaica]:  9.99

5.Akani Simbine [RSA]:  10.01

6.Jimmy Vicaut [France]:  10.08

7.Recie Prescod [Germany]:  10.17

8.Bingtran Su [China]:  10.27

Men’s Discus Final

1.Andrius Gudzius [LTU]:  69.21

2.Daniel Stahl [Sweden]:  69.19

3.Mason Finlay [USA}:  68.03

21.Ben Harradine [Australia]:  60.95

  1. Mitchell Cooper [Australia]: 57.26

Men’s Long Jump Final

1.Luvo Manyonga [RSA]  : 8.48

2.Jarrion Lawson [USA]: 8.44

3.Ruswahl Samaai [RSA]:  8.32

11.Fabrice Lapierre [Australia]: 7.91

14.Henry Frayne [Australia]:  7.88

Men’s Marathon Final

1..Geoffrey Kipkour Kirui  [Kenya]:   2.08.27

  1. Tamirat Tola [Ethiopia]: 2.09.49

3.Alphonce Felix Simbu [Tanzania]:  2.09.51

45.Jack Colreavy [Australia]:  2.21.44

60.Brad Milosevic [Australia]:   2.25.14

DNF.Josh Harris [Australia]

Men’s Shot Put Final

1.Tomas Walsh [New Zealand]:  22.03

2.Joe Kovacs [USA]:  21.66

3.Stipe Zunic [Croatia]:  21.46

20.Damien Birkenhead [Australia]:  19.90

Men’s 110 Metres Hurdles Final

1.Omar McLeod [Jamaica]  13.04

2.Sergey Shubenkov [ANA]  13.14

3.Balazs Baji [Hungary]  13.28

27.Nicholas Hough  [Australia]   13.61

Men’s Pole Vault Final

1.Sam Kendricks [USA]  5.95 metres

2.Piotr Lisek [Poland]  5.89

3.Renaud Lavillenie [France]  5.89

7.Kurtis Marschall {Australia]  5.65

 Men’s 400 Metres Hurdle Final

1.Karsten Warholm [Norway]  48.35

2.Yasmani Copello [Turkey]  48.49

3.Kerron Clement [USA]  48.52

 Men’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final

1.Conseslus Kipruto [Kenya] 8.14.12

2.Soufiane Elbakkali [Morocco] 8.14.49

3.Evan Jagger [USA]  8.15.53

40.Stewart McSweyn [Australia]  8.47.53

Men’s 800 Metres Final

1.Pierre-Ambroisse Bosse [France]  1.44.67

2.Adam Kszczot [Poland] 1.44.95

3.Kipyegon Bett [Kenya]  1.45.21

38.Peter Bol [Australia]   1.49.65

Men’s 400 Metres Final

1.Wayde Van Niekerk [South Africa]  43.98

2.Steven Gardiner [Bahamas]  44.41

3.Abdalelah Haroun [Qatar]  44.48

38.Steven Solomon [Australia]  46.27

.Men’s Triple Jump Final

1.Christian Taylor [USA]   17.68

2.Will Claye [USA]    17.63

3.Nelson Evora [Portugal]  17.19

 Men’s 200 Metres Final

1.Ramil Guliyev  [Turkey]  20.09

2.Wayde Van Niekerk [South Africa] 20.11

3.Jereem Richards  [Trinidad & Tobago]  20.11

4.Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake [Great Britain] 20.24

5.Ameer Webb [USA] 20.26

6.Isaac Makwala [Botswana] 20.44

7.Abdiu Haken Sani Brown [Japan]  20.63

8.Isiah Young [USA] 20.64

Men’s Hammer Throw Final

1.Pawel Fajdek [Poland]  79.81

2.Valeriy Pronkin [ANA]  78.16

3.Wojciech Nowicki [Poland] 78.03

Men’s Decathlon Final

  1. Kevin Mayer [France] 8768 pts
  2. Rico Freimuth [Germany] 8564 pts
  3. Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 8488 pts

18.Cedric Dubler [Australia]   7728 pts

Men’s Javelin Final

1.Johannes Vetter [Germany]  89.89 metres

2.Jakub Vadlejch [Cze]   89.73

3.Petr Frydrych [Cze]   88.32

14.Hamish Peacock [Australia]  82.46

Men’s 5000 Metres Final

1.Muktar Edris [Ethiopia]  13.32.79

2.Mohamed Farah [GBR]    13.33.22

3.Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo [USA]  13.33.30

11.Patrick Tiernan [Australia]   13.40.01

20.Morgan McDonald  [Australia]  13.30.73

24.Sam McEntee  [Australia]  13.31.58

 Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final

1.Great Britain & Northern Ireland  37.47

2.USA   37.52

3.Japan   38.04

4.China 38.34

5.France   38.48

6.Canada   38.59

7.Turkey   38.73

Dnf. .Jamaica

Men’s 50 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Yohan Diniz [France]    3.33.12

2.Hirooki Aria  [Japan]     3.41.17

3.Kai Kobayashi  [Japan]  3.41.19

Australia’s Jared Tallent withdrew from the event due to injury.

Men’s 20 kilometre Walk Final

1.Eider Arevalo [Colombia]  1.18.53

2.Sergei Shirobokov [ANA]  1.18.55

3.Caio Bonfim [Brazil]  1.19.04

6.Dane Bird-Smith [Australia]   1.19.28

56.Rhydian Cowley [Australia]   1.30.48

 Men’s High Jump Final

1.Mutaz Essa Barshim [Qatar]   2.35

2.Damil Lysenko  [ANA]    2.32

3.Majd Eddin Ghazal [Syria]   2.29

 Men’s 1500 Metres Final

1.Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Kenya]   3.33.61

2.Timothy Cheruiyot [Kenya]   3.33.99

3.Filip Ingebrigtsen [Norway]   3.34.53

–  Jordan Williamsz [Australia]  3.38.93

–  Luke Matthews [Australia]      3.40.92

–  Ryan Gregson [Australia]       3.43.28

Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Final

1.Trinidad & Tobago      2.58.12

2.USA                             2.58.61

3.Great Britain & NI       2.59.00

4.Belgium                        3.00.04

5.Spain                            3.00.65

6.Cuba                            3.01.10

7.Poland                         3.01.59

8.France                          3.01.79

 

WOMEN’S EVENTS

 Women’s 10,000 Metres Final

1.Almaz Ayara [Ethiopia]: 30.16.32

2.Tirunesh Dibaba [Ethiopia]: 31.02.69

3.Agnes Jebet Tirop [Kenya]:  31.03.50

22.Eloise Wellings [Australia]:  32.26.31

26.Madeleine Hills  [Australia]:  32.48.57

Women’s Marathon Final

1.Rose Chelmo  [Bahrain]:   2.27.11

2.Edna Ngeringwong Kiplagat [Kenya]:  2.27.18

3.Amy Cragg [USA]:  2.27.18

9.Jessica Trengove [Australia]:  2.28.59

20.Sinead Diver [Australia]: 2.33.26

24.Milly Clark [Australia]:  2.35.27

Women’s Pole Vault Final

1.Ekaterini Stefanidi [Greece]:   4.91

2.Sandi Morris [USA]:  4.75

3.Robeilys Peinada [Venezuela]:  4.65

3.Yarisley Silva [Cuba]   4.65……………………….Two Bronze medals awarde

15.Liz Parnov [Australia]: 4.35

Women’s Heptathlon Final Result

1.Nafissatov Thiam [Belgium]:   6,784 pts

2.Csarolin Schafer [Germany]:    6,676 pts

3.Anouk Vetter [Netherlands]:    6,636 pts

Women’s Hammer Throw Final

1.Anita Wlodarczyk  [Poland]    77.90

2.Zheng Wang [China]    75.98

3.Malwina Kopron  [Poland]   74.76

Women’s 100 Metres Final

1.Tori Bowie [USA]:   10.85

2.Marie-Josee Ta Lou [Ivory Coast]:  10.86

3.Dafne Schippers [Netherlands]:  10.96

4.Murielle Ahoure [Ivory Coast]:  10.98

5.Elaine Thompson [Jamaica]: 10.98

6.Michelle-Lee Ahyr [Trinidad & Tobago]:  11.01

7.Rosangela Santos [Brazil]:  11.06

8.Kelly-Ann Baptiste [Trinidad & Tobago]: 11.09

Women’s Triple Jump Final

1.Yulimar Rojas [Venezuela]     14.91

2Caterine Ibarguen [Colombia]   14.89

3.Olga Rypakova [Kazakhan]   14.77

Women’s 1500 Metres Final

1.Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon [Kenya]   4.02.59

2.Jennifer Simpson [USA]   4.02.76

3.Caster Semenya [RSA]   4.02.90

17.Zoe Buckman  [Australia]   4.05.44

27.Georgia Griffith [Australia]   4.08.99

33.Linden Hall [Australia]   4.10.51

Women’s Javelin Throw Final

1.Barbora Spotakova [Czech Rep]    66.76 Metres

2.Lingwei LI [China]  66.25

3.Huihui LYU  [China]   65.26

10.Kelsey-Lee Roberts [Australia]  60.76

25.Kathryn Mitchell [Australia]  57.42

Women’s Shot Put Final

1.Lijiao Gong [China]  19.94

2.Anita Marton [Hungary] 19.49

3.Michelle Carter [USA] 19.14

Women’s 400 Metres Final

1.Phyllis Francis [USA]   49.92

2.Salwa Eid Naser [Bahrain]  50.06

3.Allyson Felix [USA]  50.08.

Women’s 400 Metres  Hurdles Final

1.Kori Carter [USA]  53.07

2.Dalilah Muhammad [USA] 53.50

3.Ristananna Tracey [Jamaica]  53.74

25.Lauren Wells [Australia] 56.49

Women’s Long Jump Final

1.Brittney Reese [USA]  7.02

2.Darya Klishina [ANA]  7.00

3.Tianna Bartoletta [USA] 6.97

6.Brooke Stratton [Australia]  6.67

22.Naa Anang [Australia]   6.27

Women’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final

1.Emma Coburn [USA]   9.02.58

2.Courtney Frerichs [USA] 9.03.77

3.Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi [Kenya]  9.04.03

12.Genevieve LaCaze  [Australia]   9.26.25

33.Victoria Mitchell  [Australia]  10.00.04

Women’s 200 Metres Final

1.Dafne Schippers [Netherlands]  22.05

2.Marei-Josee Ta Lou  [Ivory Coast]  22.08

3.Shaunae Miller-Uibo [Bahamas]  22.15

36.Riley Day  [Australia]   23.77

43.Ella Nelson  [Australia]   24.02

Women’s High Jump Final

1.Maria Lasitskene  [Authorised Neutral Athletes]  2.03 metres

2.Yuliia Levchenko [Ukraine]   2.01

3.Kamila Cicwinko [Poland]    1.99

30.Nicola McDermott  [no height]

 Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles Final

1.Sally Pearson [Australia]    12.59 secs

2.Dawn Harper Nelson [USA]    12.63

3.Pamela Dutkiewicz  [Germany]  12.72

4.Kendra Harrison [USA]  12.74

5.Christina Manning [USA]  12.74

6.Alina Talay [Belarus]   12.81

7.Nadine Visser  [Ned]  12.83

8.Nia Ali [USA]  13.04

21.Michelle Jenneke  [Australia]   13.25

Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final

1.USA  41.82

2.Great Britain & NI    42.12

3.Jamaica  42.19

4.Germany 42.36

5.Switzerland  42.51

6.Trinidad & Tobago  42.62

7.Brazil  42.63

8.Netherlands  43.07

 Women’s 50 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Inez Heniques [Portugal]  4.05.56 [World Record]

2.Hang Yin  [China]  4.08.58

3.Shuqing Yang [China] 4.20.49

 Women’s 20 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Jiayu Yang [China]  1.26.18

2.Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez [Mexico]  1.26.19

3.Antonella Palmisano [Italy]  1.26.36

22.Regan Lamble [Australia]   1.31.30

38.Beki Smith [Australia] 1.35.31

43.Claire Tallent  [Australia]  1.37.05

 Women’s Discus Final

1.Sandra Perkovic [Croatia]   70.31

2.Dani Stevens [Australia]       69.64

3.Melina Robert-Michon [France]   66.21

27.Taryn Gollshewsky [Australia]  54.29

 Women’s 5000 Metres Final

1.Hellen Onsando Obiri [Kenya]   14.34.86

2.Almsaz Ayana [Ethiopia]     14.40.35

3.Sifan Hassan [Netherlands]    14.42.73

19.Madeline Hills [Australia]   15.13.77

27.Eloise Wellings [Australia]   15.25.92

29.Heidi See  [Australia]    15.38.86

Women’s 800 Metres Final

1.Caster Semenya [South Africa]    1.55.16

2.Francine Niyonsaba [Burundi]   1.55.92

3.Ajee Wilson  [USA]    1.56.65

28.Brittany McGovern [Australia]    2.02.25

38.Georgia Griffith [Australia]   2.03.54

41.Lora Storey  {Australia]   2.07.17

 Women’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

1.USA     3.19.02

2.Great Britain & NI    3.25.00

3.Poland   3.25.41

4.France     3.26.56

5.Nigeria      3.26.72

6.Germany    3.27.45

7.Botswana   3.28.00

DNF   Jamaica

-Australia [5th in heat]   3.28.02

 

 

 

Position Nation GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1 United States of America 10 11 9 30
2 Kenya 5 2 4 11
3 Republic of South Africa 3 1 2 6
4 France 3 0 2 5
5 China 2 3 2 7
6 Great Britain & Northern Ireland 2 3 1 6
7 Ethiopia 2 3 0 5
8 Poland 2 2 4 8
9 Authorised Neutral Athletes [ANA] 1 5 0 6
10 Germany 1 2 2 5
11 Bahrain 1 1 1 3
12 Czech Republic 1 1 1 3
13 Australia 1 1 0 2
15 Colombia 1 1 0 2
14 Turkey 1 1 0 2
16 Jamaica 1 0 3 4
17 Netherlands 1 0 3 4
18 Croatia 1 0 1 2
19 Norway 1 0 1 2
20 Portugal 1 0 1 2
21 Qatar 1 0 1 2
22 Trinidad & Tobago 1 0 1 2
23 Venezuela 1 0 1 2
24 Belgium 1 0 0 1
25 Greece 1 0 0 1
26 Lithuania 1 0 0 1
27 New Zealand 1 0 0 1
28 Japan 0 1 2 3
29 Ivory Coast 0 2 0 2
30 Hungary 0 1 1 2
31 Bahamas 0 1 0 1
32 Burundi 0 1 0 1
33 Mexico 0 1 0 1
34 Morocco 0 1 0 1
35 Sweden 0 1 0 1
36 Uganda 0 1 0 1
37 Ukraine 0 1 0 1
37 Brazil 0 0 1 1
38 Cuba 0 0 1 1
39 Italy 0 0 1 1
40 Kazahkhan 0 0 1 1
41 Syria 0 0 1 1
42 Tanzania 0 0 1 1
48 48 49 145
Note: two Bronze medals awarded in the Women’s Pole Vault Final

 

 

 

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 1, 2017

Weir completes magical season in style.

Those of you who know the  writer personally,  will be aware of his enthusiasm for, amongst other things, all things sport, particularly at the international level  where Australia is involved.  He also has a strong interest in the horses [thoroughbred racing style], so while this article may be limited in its appeal to many of his readers, no apologies are offered, it is simply included nevertheless as a matter of general interest for those who can be bothered reading it.

Darren Weir was the trainer of the 2015 Melbourne Cup winner ‘Prince of Penzance’ though most of the fame for that event went to the jockey, Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Unfortunately, while Michelle’s fame as a winning jockey has somewhat dwindled over recent times, that of Weir has literally soared, and the following article, taken from today’s edition of the ‘Ballarat Courier’ explains the reason for that statement. I follow it up with the precise statistics of Weir’s year.

‘Darren Weir says it might be impossible to better his stunning 2016/17 racing season , which ended with 449 winners across the nation. The official racing season came to a close on Monday with the Weir stable completing the campaign with another winning treble at Mildura. Weir prepared Pharja, Bonus D’Oro and Crafty Devil to claim victory at the season-ending meeting. Harry Coffey rode all three of those horses to victory.  The 449 winners across Australia sets a new National and Commonwealth mark by a single trainer, surpassing his own record of 347 from season 2015-16.  Weir told the Courier on Monday, before the Mildura meeting had started, that it was an ‘unbelievable’ season and felt the number of winners would be difficult to surpass. “I would have thought it would be hard, but it’s not about beating it, it’s about winning the good races”, Weir said.  The ‘good races’ no doubt include those at Group 1 level.

In 2016/17 Weir won eight contests at the elite level, including six in Victoria, one in South Australia and one in Western Australia. His most successful track was Moonee Valley, where he was triumphant on 37 occasions. Not far behind was his home circuit of Ballarat, where he produced a total of 31 winners.

Dean Yendall was the Weir stable’s most successful jockey with more than 100 wins while Burning Front proved the most winningest of the horses, crossing the line first in seven races. Black Heart Bart was the highest earner for the yard, with his four wins netting $1,466,000. The former WA galloper took out the Memsie Stakes, Underwood Stakes, C.F. Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes, all at  group 1 level.

Weir said his success was a result of a lot of good work from people behind the scenes who don’t get much recognition.

To highlight Weir’s dominance this season, the Ballarat horseman finished 170 winners clear of the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig training partnership. New South Wales trainers Chris Waller, John O’Shea and Kris Lees rounded out the nation’s top five.  Weir has won a host of state-based titles, including the highly sought-after metropolitan crown. At the final metro meeting of the season on Saturday, Weir managed a double despite just four races being completed before the day was abandoned due to strong winds [he also picked up two winners at Adelaide the same day].  Throughout the last twelve months, Weir has had more than 2,600 starters and won more than $24 million in prizemoney’.

[from the ‘Ballarat Courier’ by Tim O’Connor, Tuesday, 1 August 2017]

The factual statistics:  Weir entered 2,687 runners during 2016/17.  He had 449 winners, 355 second place-getters, and 323 3rd place-getters.  That is one winner in every 6 starts, or in percentage terms, a Win ratio of 16.7%, and a Place ratio of 41.9%..  He gets underway  today for the first Victorian meeting  of the new year [2017/18] with 8 starters at Warrnambool.

 

 

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