BIRMINGHAM: Swimming superstars Emma McKeon and Chad le Clos made Commonwealth Games history on Sunday as Adam Peaty suffered a shock defeat while the track cycling was overshadowed by a horror smash.
McKeon now has 11 gold medals at the Games over her career — more than any other Australian after her victory in the women’s 50m freestyle. Silver for defending champion Le Clos in the men’s 200m butterfly gives him an 18th Commonwealth medal, putting him level with shooters Michael Gault and Phil Adams.
McKeon’s crowning Commonwealth moment was extra special as her family were there to witness it — they were absent at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, where she won seven medals, including four gold.
The 28-year-old has now moved ahead of now retired compatriots Ian Thorpe, Susie O’Neill and Leisel Jones on the all-time list. “They’re the ones that inspired me when I was young,” she said. “I remember watching them on TV and that lit the fire in me to be where I am now. I’ve got them to thank.”
Le Clos finished second behind Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand in his evening race. Sunday’s final was 10 years to the day since he beat American great Michael Phelps at London 2012 in the same event to become Olympic champion.
The South African said he would have gone to extreme lengths to have won in Birmingham. “I would’ve cut my finger off to win tonight,” he said. “It meant everything to me and my family — everyone’s in the stands, my friends flew out for this race.
“I will be on the top of the podium in 2022, so whether it’s this week or world short-course (championships), that is a promise.” Peaty, who missed the world championships in Budapest in June after breaking his foot, had been unbeaten in the 100m breaststroke in a long-course global championships since 2014.
England team-mate James Wilby took gold in a time of 59.25sec, with Zac Stubblety-Cook second and his fellow Australian Sam Williamson third — pushing Peaty into fourth spot. “When it comes down to the race sometimes it doesn’t go to plan,” Peaty told the BBC. “I was hurting from the 50m but you know that’s a lack of training, lack of racing.”
He added: “I can’t overthink it. I’m a fighter and sometimes you have got to have these moments to keep fighting.” Australia’s 4x200m relay women’s team sent excitement levels soaring after Peaty’s defeat by setting a new world record — the first of the Games — in a time of 7min 39.29sec.
The team of Madison Wilson, Kiah Melverton, Mollie O’Callaghan and Ariarne Titmus powered home to beat China’s previous mark of 7:40.33, set at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Australia also had a good day at the track cycling but their haul of three golds was overshadowed by a horrific crash.
England’s Olympic omnium champion Matt Walls was catapulted over the barriers and into the crowd in the men’s 15km scratch qualifiers. Walls and two other riders — Isle of Man’s Matt Bostock and Derek Gee of Canada — were taken to hospital but Walls was discharged later on Sunday.
“I’ve somehow come away with no serious injures just a few stitches and pretty banged up,” he tweeted. “I really hope everyone else involved is OK including the spectators that may have been injured.” A CT scan also gave Bostock the all-clear.
The rugby sevens came to a conclusion in Coventry with South Africa inflicting more Commonwealth Games woe on Olympic champions Fiji. The South Africans won 31-7 — Muller du Plessis scoring two tries — to regain the title they won in 2014, but for the Fijians it was their fourth silver medal. The distraught players sank to their knees at the final whistle. New Zealand men took the bronze, beating bitter rivals Australia 26-12.