Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP), Aug 6 – Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah rocketed to a sprint double at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday as Australia pulled clear of England at the top of the medals table.
The Jamaican sprint star, 30, was the headline act on the penultimate night of track and field competition in Birmingham and did not disappoint the capacity crowd, destroying the field to win the women’s 200m in a Games record of 22.02sec.
“I was going for a Games record in the 100 and it didn’t work so I said, ‘I must get it in the 200’,” said Thompson-Herah.
“I’m grateful to claim that gold today, the day we celebrate Independence Day in Jamaica.”
Thompson-Herah topped the podium at last year’s Tokyo Olympics in both the 100m and 200m, retaining the titles she had won in Rio four years earlier.
But she only took bronze in the 100m behind compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson at last month’s world championships and finished seventh in the 200m final.
“I knew I had more races to come. I’m not a quitter,” said Thompson-Herah of her disappointing world championships results.
– ‘Learn, keep going’ –
“It’s a motivation for me to continue to learn and just keep going.”
Thompson-Herah, who won the 100m earlier in the Games, faced a tough task on paper in the 200m final despite the absence of her Jamaican rivals.
But she finished nearly half a second ahead of Nigeria’s Favour Ofili, with Namibia’s Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma taking bronze.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards won the men’s 200m in a Games record time of 19.80sec.
World bronze medallist Mary Moraa produced an astonishing late burst to come out on top in a high-class women’s 800m field, timing 1min 57.07sec.
The Kenyan faded after a quick start but found a second wind to pip England’s Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson to gold. Scotland’s Laura Muir won bronze — her first Commonwealth medal.
“I tried to run 57 or 58 seconds for the first 400 but I think I was 56-something (56.8),” said Moraa. “When I reached the 500m, I think everybody went past me.
“But with 200 to go, I closed the gap and then I knew I had to push myself right until the end.”
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo outbattled Kenyan pair Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli and Jacob Krop down the home straight to win the 5,000m in a season’s best time of 13min 8.08sec, completing a distance double in Birmingham after his earlier 10,000m win.
“It was a wonderful performance for me (at the Games),” he said. “I have two (gold medals) and I’m so happy about it.”
Alastair Chalmers won Guernsey’s first ever track and field medal when he took bronze in the men’s 400m hurdles.
In the morning session, Australia’s Oliver Hoare shocked world champion Jake Wightman and Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot to win 1500m gold.
The 25-year-old produced a storming late finish to cross the line in 3:30.12, breaking a 48-year-old Games record.
Australia’s Jemima Montag took gold in the women’s 10,000m race walk but the country’s recently crowned high jump world champion Eleanor Patterson was pushed into second place by Jamaica’s Lamara Distin.
– Diving glory for Australia –
Australia won two golds on the last night of action in the diving pool, in the women’s synchronised 3m springboard and the synchronised 10m platform.
England swept the podium in the men’s 3m springboard but Jack Laugher missed out on a third gold in Birmingham after a disappointing penultimate dive, being forced to settle for bronze.
Hot favourites Australia beat New Zealand by five wickets in their women’s Twenty20 semi-final cricket clash at Edgbaston to set up a gold medal match against India, who edged England by four runs in a thriller.
England were also beaten in the netball semi-finals by Australia, who will meet Jamaica in the final.
India beat South Africa 3-2 in the men’s hockey semi-finals and will play Australia in Monday’s gold medal match after the six-time defending champions beat England by the same scoreline.
The bowls competition wrapped up on Saturday, with Australia taking two of the final three golds on offer, in the women’s pairs and the men’s singles.
With just two days of competition to go, Australia top the overall medals table in Birmingham with 59 golds, nine ahead of hosts England.