John Salvado / AAP News
Peter Bol and Abbey Caldwell have further confirmed Australia’s rising status in world middle-distance running as the green and gold squad claimed overall track and field bragging rights at the Commonwealth Games.
Pre-race favourite Bol finished second behind Kenyan Wycliffe Kinyamal in the men’s 800m and Caldwell pocketed a surprise bronze in the women’s 1500m on the final night of competition at Alexander Stadium.
Brooke Buschkuehl then won Australia’s final medal of the Games, a second successive Commonwealth silver in the long jump.
The 800m silver was bittersweet for Bol, who became an overnight sensation last year when he twice broke the national record and finished fourth in the final at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I wanted the win, but starting with a medal, that’s what we wanted,” the 28-year-old Bol said.
“There was a lot of pressure, a lot of anticipation.
“I think we lived up to it and that’s the first medal down.”
Kinyamal went to the front with 250 metres to go and held on for the win in one minute 47.52 seconds, with Bol coming home second in 1:47.66.
“If we had maybe another 20 metres I could have won but we’re only running 800 metres, not 820,” Bol added.
“You look at the start list and there are no front runners out there.
“I knew it was going to be tactical and I knew I was going to have to come home strong and I think we did, so I’m happy with that.”
Despite winning the national title and getting the automatic qualifying time, Caldwell was controversially overlooked for the 1500m at last month’s world championships in Eugene.
Finishing on the podium in Birmingham was something of a two-fingered salute to the selectors, even if she chose not to rub it in.
The 21-year-old stormed home in the final straight, overtaking fellow Australian Linden Hall, to claim third spot in 4:04.79.
Scotland’s Laura Muir won gold in 4:02.75.
“Honestly I don’t know where that came from,” Caldwell said.
“The 1500s are brutal and I just think I saw those girls in front and I found that extra gear and to come from behind, it meant so much to me.
“I felt it was there, but when you are in that state you don’t see the finish line, you just go for it.
“… Things like (non-selection) are going to burn at the start, but it’s part of the sport and you have got to take it.”
Caldwell’s bronze came a day after Ollie Hoare became only the second Australian man after Herb Elliott in 1958 to win Commonwealth gold.
Esa Brume from Nigeria won the women’s long jump with 7.00m ahead of national record holder Buschkuehl second (6.95m).