Aussie swim stars dominate Birmingham Games pool on night 1

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Steve Larkin and Murray Wenzel / AAP News
Image: AAP News

 

A spectacular night at the point has set up the Australian Dolphins for an incredible medal haul in Birmingham.

 

Swim stars Ariarne Titmus and Elijah Winnington have won gold medals in stunning Australian clean sweeps of their events at the Commonwealth Games.

Titmus, a month after recovering from COVID, has triumphed in the women’s 200m freestyle in Birmingham.

Winnington, after almost quitting the sport last year, saluted in the men’s 400m freestyle.

Para-swimmer Timothy Hodge, in the 100m backstroke S9, added another gold medal to Australia’s early haul which also includes two bronzes – to Kiah Melverton (women’s 400m individual medley) and Emily Beecroft (100m freestyle S9).

But celebrity swimmer Cody Simpson crashed out of the 50m butterfly, finishing sixth in his semi-final.

Simpson failed to advance to the final, as did fellow Australians Kyle Chalmers and Matt Temple.

Titmus edged her training partner Mollie O’Callaghan by just 0.12 seconds to win her Friday night final with fellow Dolp hin Madi Wilson taking the bronze medal.

“I knew coming in she would be there,” Titmus said of her 18-year-old teammate O’Callaghan.

“She’s young. She’s feisty. She’s hungry.

“She’s what I was like – and I am still like that – but it’s exciting to have a bit of a battle out there.”

 

Winnington won ahead of compatriots Sam Short and Mack Horton, who took silver and bronze respectively.

Winnington’s win continues his stirring swimming redemption – he almost gave up after bombing at last year’s Tokyo Olympics when he entered as raging favourite but finished seventh.

The Queenslander admitted battling depression, feeling like a failure after Tokyo before seeking help from a psychologist and then a mindfulness coach.

After much introspection during months away from the pool, Winnington made a triumphant return to international competition at last month’s world championships in Budapest, winning gold in his pet event.

And now he has added the Commo nwealth crown to his collection.

“It was really tough coming off the back of Toyko, I almost quit,” Winnington said.

“I decided to keep going and put myself and my mindset in the right spot to achieve what I have achieved this year.”

Winnington was under world record pace until fading in the last 100m, his time of three minutes 43.06 seconds some 3.01 off the world benchmark set in 2009 by German Paul Biedermann.

“It’s something to chase,” Winnington said of the record.

“It is pretty hard being the hunted but having that world record there means I’m still the hunter.”

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