Nijel Amos wins the 800m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games (© Gett Images)
It was a rare defeat for one of the sport’s highest profile stars, David Rudisha, that was the main talking point on another huge night at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Thursday (31).
Jamaica moved their medal tally to sixteen as they claimed their second medal sweep, Nigeria added two more gold medals to their tally while South Africa and India won their first gold medals of this edition of the Games.
Amos beats Rudisha
In one of the most eagerly awaited races of the Games, Botswana’s Nijel Amos got the better of Olympic champion and world record-holder David Rudisha in Hampden Park, reversing their positions from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Rudisha towed the field through to the bell in 52 seconds and he was still leading coming into the home straight, alongside his compatriot Ferguson Rotich. Nevertheless, once he found room, Amos began to eat up the ground and he over-powered Rudisha in the last few metres to win in 1:45:18.
It was the third time that Amos has beaten Rudisha this season, although the Kenyan has only recently returned to competitive fitness after a long lay-off with a knee injury which ruled out most of his 2013 season.
“I’m lacking something,” admitted Rudisha, who finished second, 0.3 behind Amos.
“I didn’t do all of last season. I didn’t start my preparation as usual, normally I started in November or December preparing for the season but, this time, I was out in rehabilitation in January and February and starting slowly in March. I did a little bit more of a crash programme. That is why I am paying (the price) a little bit now.”
Asked whether he was now the main man over two laps of the track, Amos conceded: “I don’t think I am the man. I think maybe I will be the man if I break the world record five times. This gold medal means a lot today. I’d like next year for both of us to come back strong together, to break the world record.”
Bronze went to South Africa’s Andre Olivier in 1:46.03.
Another Jamaican clean sweep
Jamaica took a clean sweep in the men’s 200m. In a repeat of the top three in the Jamaican trials, Rasheed Dwyer got the better of world silver medallist Warren Weir, with their team-mate Jason Livermore taking bronze.
In cool conditions, Dwyer clocked 20.14 with Weir never getting close enough to challenge and finishing 0.12 behind.
“It’s a very good feeling," said Dwyer. "Words can’t describe what I feel right now. I know it’s going to be a great stepping stone for my career. It’s not the first Jamaican 1-2-3, but I’m very happy I’m in this 1-2-3."
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare claimed the sprint double, after winning the women’s 100m on Monday night, taking the 200m in highly impressive fashion as she won in 22.25, just 0.02 shy of her personal best set at the IAAF Diamond League in Eugene at the end of May.
Despite the wet weather, English athletes Jodie Williams and Bianca Williams – no relation – recorded personal best times of 22.50 and 22.58 as they took silver and bronze respectively.
Gowda is big cheese
With gold medal favourite Shara Proctor of England pulling out injured in the first round and the schedule ruling out another medal bid for Olympic bronze medallist Blessing Okagbare, it opened the door for the latter’s Nigerian team-mate Ese Brume to win her first international title.
On a soaking night, and after her disaster at the IAAF World Junior Championships in the USA last week when she failed to make the final, 18-year-old Brume produced the best leap of 6.56m in the third round.
England’s Jazmin Sawyers won silver with 6.54m and Christabel Nettey of Canada won bronze with 6.49m, both with final-round jumps.
It took Nigeria’s gold medal tally to three, their best since the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
“I was not going to lose my gold medal," said Brume. "I was so determined out there. I will now go to Morocco for the African Championships, where the weather will be better. This is just the start for me.”
Meanwhile, India were also celebrating after Vikas Gowda opened their medal account at these Games with a gold medal in the men’s discus, improving by one place on Delhi four years ago.
The Olympic finalist produced the most consistent series and – crucially – the best throw of the competition with a third-round effort of 63.64m.
Cyprius’s Apostolos Prellis took silver with 63.32m and Jamaica’as Jason Morgan grabbed bronze with a best of 62.34m.
“This is something I have always wanted to do,” said Gowda.
“Since I started competing, the Commonwealth Games has always been a huge event that I always marked on my calendar. As soon as my last meet was over last year, I pretty much started preparing for this day nine months ago.”
Spencer ends gold drought
There was a raucous atmosphere for the women’s 400m hurdles with Eilidh Child the major home hope for Scotland, but Jamaican favourite Kaliese Spencer was undaunted and executed her race plan perfectly, leading almost from the gun to win in 54.10.
It was nearly a second clear of Child with another Jamaican, Janieve Russell, taking the bronze medal.
“It has been eight years since I have won (a major international title),” said a relieved Spencer.
“It was 2006 World Juniors since I won a gold. I just focused on my technique, focused on what I trained for. It wasn’t a perfect race, technique wise. But I came out with the win, so I am very happy about that.”
In the men’s event, Cornel Fredericks took his first major title and South Africa’s first gold of the championships as he clocked 48.50. Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon took the silver with 48.75 and Jeffrey Gibson acquired up the bronze in a Bahamian record of 48.78.
Global champions progress
Kenya’s world 800m champion Eunice Sum headed the qualifiers for Friday’s women’s 800m final, winning her semi in 2:01.38.
Another global champion, Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson, was another to make smooth progress. The Australian was quickest from the heats in 12.69.
Australia’s 2009 world champion Dani Samuel has returned to form this season and she was the top qualifier for the women’s discus final with 64.53m, the second-best throw ever at the Commonwealth Games. The Australian will start Friday’s final as an overwhelming favourite, with the next best finalist a full six metres adrift in qualifying.
Chris Broadbent for the IAAF