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By David Tarbotton
The key to the success of the track and field campaign at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has been athletes’ performances around their personal bests. Easier said than done under the pressure of a home Games, but in their favour has been the schedule of the Games, at the end of the domestic season.
For high jumper, Nicola McDermott, that was the scenario. In a tremendous display of high jumping, she added one centimetre to her personal best and landed herself on the podium. But not only did she clear a personal best, she kept a near perfect sheet, which would be critical in the end.
“In my heart I knew if I got a personal best I could be up there,” said McDermott.
She opened with a clearance at 1.80m and followed this with 1.84m. She required two attempts at 1.87m, before first up clearances at 1.89m and 1.91m. She finished in third along with Canadian Alyxandria Treasure, but McDermott claimed the medal courtesy of her clearer sheet.
“I said to myself, ‘don’t stop until you’re up in the gold position’, but to land the bronze is like aiming for the moon and getting among the stars. I got a personal best and I’m on the podium, I can’t complain about that,” she said.
Aged just 21, she still has many years ahead of her.
“If there is anything to take away from today, it is if a dream is in you, keep going. No matter what the past circumstance, you just keep going. My coach and my family had faith in me and dared to dream with me and today I am one step closer to my ultimate dream.”
It was all happening in the early rounds of the men’s javelin, as India’s Neeraj Chopra hit 85.50m, while Grenada’s Anderson Peters reached 82.20m. Glasgow bronze medallist, Tasmanian Hamish Peacock was also solid, nailing 81.37m. While in third place, in round four he launched the javelin to 82.59m, just edging Peters’ for the silver.
After the competition Peacock revealed he has been struggling.
“I haven’t been feeling that well this season, so to come in second in a big event like this at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with a throw of 82m (82.59), is a good result.”
The men’s 4x100m team lived up to the pre-race hopes, placing a highly respectable fourth behind world class teams, Jamaica, England and South Africa. The Australian team of Trae Williams, Rohan Browning, Jack Hale and Josh Clarke, moved the baton with precision to clock 38.58, their quickest time for nearly six years. It was also the second fastest by an Australian team at the Commonwealth Games and the best place since Manchester in 2002.
Due to an injury the Australian 4x400m relay team was without Bendere Oboya. But the slightly weakened team stood up and continued their series of terrific international performances over the last four years. The same team from Glasgow, in the same order, lined up at Carrara stadium and ran three seconds faster. Individual finalist, Annelise Rubie started the team off with a quick 51.6 split from the blocks. Caitlin Sargeant-Jones ran a tremendous 52.0 flying second leg. Lauren Wells moved the team up to fourth with a 52.73 split, handing over to the anchor Morgan Mitchell who reversed her patchy summer form to run a marvellous anchor timed at 51.03. The team clocked 3:27.43 and were within one second of a medal.
The men’s 1500m was run at a solid pace with the Aussies well in the event. At the bell, Gregson perfectly positioned, moved with the leaders, but unfortunately, he had spent his energy too early. Eventually, Victorian Jordy Williamsz would be the leading Aussie placing sixth in 3:38.34, with Gregson in ninth.
The women’s 4x100m relay was not as successful, as the anchor Melissa Breen appeared to stumble before she received the baton from Riley Day. Breen later said her hamstring was not cooperating with her today. It was later revealed that the first leg runner, Brianna Beahan, had stepped on the line of the lane and the team would have been disqualified.
Another great run in the 5000m confirmed Celia Sullohern as a genuine star of Australian distance running. Always in the mix, she placed fifth in 15:34.73, just outside her PB. Close behind for much of the race, Eloise Wellings, finished possibly her last track 5000m in eighth, clocking 15:39.02.