Kirani James in the 400m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games (© Getty Images)
It was a night when the spirit of London 2012 came to the Commonwealth Games as four Olympic champions thrilled the 44,000 crowd crammed into Hampden Park on Wednesday (30).
Kirani James, Valerie Adams and Greg Rutherford all added another gold to their collection and David Rudisha took another purposeful stride towards the podium.
Canada improved their gold medal tally to five and there were also victories for Australia and Kenya.
Olympic champions shine
The cool conditions were not ideal for 400m running or long jumping, but Olympic champions Kirani James and Greg Rutherford both got the job done impressively. For Rutherford, it was only the second title of his international career.
The Englishman opened with 8.12m which was duly matched by South Africa's Zarck Visser in the second round. But Rutherford regained control in the third round with 8.20m which was good enough for gold. Visser settled for silver and his compatriot Rushwhal Samaai took bronze with 8.08m.
For Rutherford, the victory had particular resonance as it came in the same stadium where his great grandfather had represented England in a football international against Scotland in 1908.
“A hundred years on, it’s nice to have another Rutherford doing well in sport,” he said. “It wasn’t the most incredible performance in the world in terms of distance. It was pretty chilly out there. We had a few spots of rain. But to come away with a gold medal, I’m over the moon.”
James was imperious as he won the men’s 400m in a Commonwealth Games record of 44.24. Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa and Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago also went sub-45 as they won silver and bronze in 44.68 and 44.78 respectively.
Afterwards, James dismissed suggestions that the weather was difficult to contend with. “It’s just an excuse for guys who don’t really believe in themselves in how they are going to perform,” he said. “Everybody has to deal with the weather; you just have to run through it.”
High five for Canada
Canada took their athletics gold medal tally to five with Derek Drouin winning the men’s high jump and Brianne Theisen-Eaton taking the heptathlon crown.
World and Olympic bronze medallist Drouin was the class act of the field and his clearance of 2.31m at the second attempt was good enough for gold. He fialed at what would have been a Games record of 2.37m.
Two-time World Championships medallist Kyriakos Ioannou failed at 2.33m in an attempt to snatch the win and had to settle for silver with season's best of 2.28m, but it was an encouraging return to the podium for the Cypriot after missing all of 2013 through injury.
Canada’s Michael Mason won bronze with 2.25m.
“I was expecting at least that performance from myself,” said Drouin. “You never know who is going to show up on the day. It’s nice to get a prettier looking medal. That’s for sure.”
World silver medallist Theisen-Eaton, wife of Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton, was always in control of the women’s heptathlon. An impressive long jump of 6.44m to start the day tightened her grip on the title, which she eventually won with a solid score of 6597.
Team-mate Jessica Zelinka claimed silver for the second successive Commonwealth Games with 6270 and bronze went to England’s Jessica Taylor with 5826.
Throws titles head south
In-form Kim Mickle won the women’s javelin with a Commonwealth Games record of 65.96m.
The Australian was fourth at the 2006 Melbourne Games and second at the 2010 Delhi Games. Silver went to defending champion Sunette Viljoen of South Africa with 63.19m and bronze to Mickle’s team-mate Kelsey-Lee Roberts with 62.95m, both with final-round efforts.
It was a great night for antipodean throwers as two-time Olympic champion Valerie Adams made it a hat-trick of Commonwealth Games titles. The New Zealand athlete was below her best, but a throw of 19.88m was easily enough.
“The goal was reached today,” she said. “It was a ‘three-peat’ right back from Melbourne, Delhi and now Glasgow.”
Silver went to Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel with 18.57m and bronze to Canada’s Julie Labonte with a best of 17.59m.
There was an unsurprising Kenyan clean sweep in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. But it may not have been in the order many predicted.
World champion Milcah Chemos had to settle for silver behind team-mate Purity Kirui, who edged clear on the final run-in, clocking 9:30.36 to take gold. Joan Kipkemoi completed the Kenyan 1-2-3 with bronze.
Rudisha strides through to final
Olympic champion David Rudisha made serene progress through the men’s 800m semi-finals, winning in 1:46:61. But the Kenyan faces a stern test in Thursday’s final against Botswana’s Nijel Amos, who won the other semi-final in 1:45:65.
In the first round of the women’s 800m, world champion Eunice Sum eased through her heat in 2:02.36.
Former world champion Dai Greene of Wales was the major casualty in the men’s 400m hurdles semis, trailing in fifth in his heat. South Africa'sCornel Fredericks led the qualifiers for Thursday’s final with 49.26, while world champion Jehue Gordon also easiy advanced.
World silver medallist Warren Weir safely qualified from the first round of the men’s 200m, the Jamaican clocking 20.71 in winning his heat.
The women’s 200m also got underway and 100m champion Blessing Okagbare was among the automatic qualifiers in 22.99.
In the women’s long jump qualifying rounds, the charts were led by Bianca Stuart of Bahamas with 6.67m.
The silver medallist from four years ago, Vikas Gowda of India was the top qualifier from the men’s discus, posting the best throw of 64.32m.
In the women’s high jump qualification, world youth champion Eleanor Patterson of Australia and defending Commonwealth bronze medallist Levern Spencer of St Lucia were among the 12 qualifiers, each clearing 1.85m.
Chris Broadbent for the IAAF