This article originally appeared on athletics.org.au – home of Athletics Australia: http://www.athletics.com.au/News/marvellous-madis-magic-mile-evening-session-wrap-day-3-gc2018
Women’s T54 1500m
West Australian Madi de Rozario captured gold with a commanding performance in the T54 1500m on a night when the heavens opened up and it rained medals at Carrara Stadium. The Australians won eight in total including three silvers and four bronze.
The 24-year-old de Rozario, a three-time Paralympic medallist and five-time world medalist, won convincingly with 3:34.06.
She took command over the field early and with a lap to go made a decisive move and was never headed saying “I realised quite early on that no-one was going to do anything so I took advantage of it.
“I had a plan in my head and it worked out well”.
“This will rank amazingly high in my memories – enjoying this moment in front of so many Australians, with my mother and grandfather in the crowd was something special.”
Teammate Angela Ballard, the defending champion, was denied back to back victories as she crossed in for the silver in 3:36.85 ahead of Canada’s Diane Roy.
The bemedaled Paralympian was gracious in defeat saying “If there was anyone to lose to I’m happy it was Madi.”
De Rozario and Ballard will both appear in the marathon on Sunday.
In the women’s hammer, Alexandra Hulley (NSW) was not bothered by the rain as her rapid rise over the last two years continued, winning silver, the best result by an Australian since Brooke Krueger/Billett won gold in 2006.
Hulley threw 68.20m just 46cm shy of her personal best set last year as Lara Nielsen made it a double celebration with bronze (65.03m).
“The crowd definitely did fire us up. Just seeing all the Aussies performing so well was amazing. Everyone got behind me and it really lifts you. It’s been great.” said Hulley, the reigning national champion.
For Nielsen, it was a significant improvement on her previous best Commonwealth Games performance when she was ninth in Glasgow in 2014.
US-based Dani McConnell had a best throw of 59.60m to place eighth in her first senior international final.
There was a major upset as Julia Radcliffe from New Zealand, the Glasgow silver-medallist, won with a throw of 69.94m. With a slippery circle making conditions tricky, hot favourite England’s Sophie Hitchen, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist surprisingly fouled out with three no throws while defending champion Sultana Frizell (CAN) could muster only 64.93m for fourth.
Men’s T54 1500m
Kurt Fearnley scored a fabulous silver medal in the men’s T54 1500m as he had the Carrara stadium cheering wildly and willing him to victory.
He entered the home straight in second behind Canadian Alexandre Dupont and put on a brilliant surge only to be denied victory by the barest of margins, 3:11.75 to 3:11.92.
At 37-years Fearnley is the elder statesmen of the Australian team but the five-time Paralympian looked as good as ever as he won his third Commonwealth Games medal, emulating his performance in Glasgow.
Victorian Jake Lappin took the bronze with an excellent 3:12.60.
Fearnley gave his all in a bid for a victory on homesoil, and said “ Down that last 80m the crowd almost blew my head off. I was gritting my teeth just willing this chair forwards. That’s all I had.”
“Every part of me was trying to get that win tonight. The best I could was silver though. We learn from it and we have another crack at it on Sunday.”
The team co-captain will make his final appearance at a major Games on home soil when he takes to the streets of the Broadwater Parklands on Sunday in the T54 marathon.
Men’s 100m hurdles
Hurdler Nick Hough was simply superb in the opening track event of the night as he sent the Australian crowd into a frenzy with a bronze medal in the 110m hurdles, the first Australian to win a medal in the event for 32 years.
The national champion finished in 13.38 (-0.3) just 0.19s behind heretofore unheralded gold medallist Ronald Levy (13.19) of Jamaica as the Caribbean nation scored a one-two with former Olympic Bronze Medallist Hansle Parchment was second with 13.22.
Hough’s performance consolidated his place at second on the Australian all-time list behind national record-holder Kyle Van Der Kuyp whose 13.29 standard is perhaps living on borrowed time.
The Sydneysider acknowledged his fans and supporters saying “Everyone in this stadium was cheering for me and I know everyone at home was too.”
“It’s just so great to have an opportunity to have home Games and I’m so glad I could make the most of it.”
Two events remained for the weary Australian decathletes Cedric Dubler (QLD) and Kyle Cranston (NSW), javelin and the 1500 metre run, a cruel finishing set of events, demanding power, precision and speed endurance whilst nearing the point of complete exhaustion.
Cranston, a confident thrower, made every effort possible to maximise his points total, throwing 62.36 metres for a score of 773 points, which was a personal best in wet conditions.
Dubler entered the javelin throw with substantial injury concerns, having not thrown for seven weeks, plagued by an elbow injury, which limited his ability to train or compete in the discipline.
As promised, Dubler took a calculated risk, throwing the javelin once, as 54.63m accrued 657 points enough for seventh.
A torturous task, three and three-quarter laps of the track remained between Dubler and a bronze medal. Cranston embraced the opportunity to maximise his points total, latching onto leader Ben Gregory (WAL) early. The Welshman led from start to finish and pulled Cranston to a personal best of 4:31.91, as a 63-second final lap showed fantastic resolve from the Australian as he placed third in a personal best of 4:31.91 (732 points).
Dubler, fighting substantial fatigue, ran an efficient race, ensuring a bronze medal, placing fourth in the event with 4:57.03 (577 pts).
Dubler’s effort bagged him the bronze medal with 7983 points, marking it Australia’s best result since Jason Dudley won silver in 2006. The Queenslander showed a calculated resolve, fighting difficult weather conditions, and competing whilst carrying an injury.
“The two days have been a rollercoaster.”
“I guess we are always looking for personal bests as athletes, unfortunately, I didn’t come away with any in this competition but the experience I have had and the fun I have out there is worth it.”
Cranston’s final score of 7734 points earnt fifth place, a commendable major championships debut, and a decathlete Australia is certain to see more of in years to come.
Australian spectators were treated once again to a trio of Australian finalists, as Linden Hall (VIC), Georgia Griffith (VIC) and Zoe Buckman (VIC) lined up in a stellar international field.
The race was delayed when starting equipment failed, as the athletes stood on the start line with tensions visibly building amongst the visibly nervous field.
A torrid pace was set from the gun, as Kenya’s Beatrice Kipkoech tactically attempted to exhaust the finishing kick of World and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (RSA) with a 1:03.82 opening lap.
Hall made her intentions clear, lapping either next to or directly behind Kipkoech, as 800 metres arrived in 2:10.81 the pace had slowed, yet the Games Record of 4:04.43 wasn’t out of the question. Semenya loomed imposingly behind Hall, whilst Griffith and Buckman sat in the middle of the pack.
Semenya moved into contention with 500 metres remaining, as Hall and Kipkoech led shoulder to shoulder onto the home straight. Then the pace accelerated in earnest with 300 metres remaining, as Semenya moved around Hall and onto the shoulder of Kipkoech while Melissa Courtney(WAL) began to challenge in fourth.
Semenya pulled away from the field convincingly, entering the home straight with the race won, leaving Kipkoech to hang on for silver. The South African obliterated the Games Record, winning gold in 4:00.71 and breaking Zola Budd’s 34-year-old national record. Hall clutched at every available inch in the home straight, as Courtney agonisingly inched past to deny the brave Australian a medal, 4:03.44 (PB) to Hall’s 4:03.67.
Griffith executed a clinical finishing kick, moving up strongly over the final 200 metres, setting another substantial personal best in the process and moving to fifth on the Australian all-time list, claiming fifth in 4:04.17.
Buckman fought valiantly for 12th, finishing in 4:06.76, attacking throughout the race, exhibiting tactical bravery in the face of building fatigue.
Crowd favourite Steve Solomon (NSW) faced a quality international field, with three men faster than 44.10sec, and the eighth fastest 400-metre runner of all-time, Isaac Makwala (BOT).
Solomon executed a typically even race-plan, seventh across the finish line as second to seventh were separated by 0.55sec. The London Olympic finalist’s performance of 45.64 was just 0.25sec outside his season’s best.
“Today I went in with a great headspace, I really thought I could do big things, I stuck to my race plan, it just wasn’t there for me today. I’m healthy, I’m happy and I’m liking running, so overall, even though the time nor the placing isn’t what I’d been thinking about for the last eighteen months, I’m still really proud of getting here.
Solomon will compete in the Men’s 4 x 400m relay later in the week.
Anneliese Rubie (NSW) finished third in semi-final three, the fastest non-automatic qualifier, Rubie booked her spot in the final with a 51.51sec race, a personal best that see’s the 25-year old move to 16th on the Australian all-time list, the first Australian woman to qualify for the final since Rosemary Hayward in 2006.
Rubie was satisfied with her effort saying “It’s nice to run a time like that – nice to feel comfortable.”
Morgan Mitchell (VIC) raced in semi-final two, finishing third in 52.65sec and missing out on progressing to the final. The 4 x 400m relay team member reflected on recent turbulent times.
“That’s probably the happiest I’ve been all season, the consistency I’ve had on the 52 and half times, you’re killing me! But to finally just be smiling and wanting to race again is such an incredible feeling”.
Sean Whipp & Pat Birgan for Athletics Australia