Tom Walsh at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (© Getty Images)
Valerie Adams will return to international competition at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games after the birth of her first child. Great as the venerable Dame Valerie’s record is, she may have to add to it to re-establish herself as New Zealand’s best shot putter.
Tom Walsh – Tom Terrific – added one of the two titles missing from his resume when he won the men’s shot put on the second day of competition at Carrara Stadium. Since 2014, Walsh has acquired a world championships gold medal, two world indoor titles and Olympic bronze medal and, now, a Commonwealth gold.
All that is missing is the Olympic title, and who is to say the 26-year-old will not rectify that at Tokyo 2020.
Walsh was over a metre short of his Games record 22.45m in qualifying the previous day. It says a lot about his recent form that you can be mildly disappointed with a throw of ‘only’ 21.41m, but there it is.
So far in 2018, Walsh has set an outdoor Commonwealth record 22.67m, won the World Indoor Championship, and had nine competitions (including qualifying here) with just one below 21 metres. And that one produced a 20.99m.
Simbine and Ahye capture 100m crowns
Akani Simbine and Michelle-Lee Ahye are the new king and queen of Commonwealth sprinting after over-turning Jamaican opposition to win the 100m titles.
Simbine was in control all the way in the men’s race to win in 10.03 (+0.8) from compatriot Henricho Bruintjies (10.17) and Yohan Blake (10.19) of Jamaica. A poor start meant Blake was never in the race to claim Jamaica’s fourth straight Commonwealth title.
Adam Gemili, second to Blake in the fastest of the semi-finals, was a scratch from the final due to an adductor muscle injury.
Simbine is the first South African to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth 100m.
Ahye’s win gave Trinidad and Tobago its first athletics gold medal since Ato Boldon won the 100m in Games record time in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and its first women’s athletics gold medal.
Ahye looked the favourite all through the rounds, but a poor start by her main rival, Christania Williams of Jamaica, cleared her path to the gold. Williams charged through the field but fell 0.07 seconds short of Ahye’s 11.14 at the line.
Walsh unflappable in the circle
After his explosive 22.45m in qualifying, Walsh was the epitome of cool in the shot put final.
After a ‘modest’ 20.40m opener, Walsh took the lead with a 21.21m in the next round. Nigeria’s Chukwueba Enekwechi produced a personal best 21.14m to close within centimetres at half-way, but a 21.41m in the fourth round put matters to rest.
Canada’s Tim Nedow was best of a flurry of final-round competition bests, his 20.91m taking the bronze medal. Defending champion O’Dayne Richard (JAM) was fourth.
Uganda again in track distances
Two distance events have been run on the first two days of the Games and both have gone the way of east Africa. No surprise there; the shock is that it is Uganda which has taken both events, relegating all-powerful Kenya to a couple of minor medals.
On opening day it was Joshua Cheptegei in the 5000m. This time Stella Chesang proved strongest and fastest to win a muddling women’s 10,000m in 31:45.30. Stacy Ndiwa took the silver for Kenya, with Uganda also grabbing the bronze through Mercyline Chelangat.
Warner and LePage 1-2 in decathlon after day one
Damian Warner, the defending champion from Glasgow four years ago, leads the decathlon after the first day of competition.
No surprise there, but his teammate Pierce LePage is in second place, leapfrogging Lindon Victor of Grenada with the fastest 400m time of 47.91 to close the first day.
Warner held off Australia’s Cedric Dubler 48.12 to 48.39, in the second heat. Warner leads comfortably enough with 4509 points to LePage’s 4380. Victor is in the bronze medal position with 4290, 72 ahead of Dubler.
Semenya fastest in 1500m heats
An 800m-1500m double remains a possibility for Caster Semenya after she eased through the women’s 1500m heats.
Semenya controlled the first of the two heats all the way to win in 4:05.86, the faster of the two heats. Her strong pace enabled several others to make it through to the final. All four non-automatic qualifiers came from this heat.
Winny Chebet, the fastest in the field on entry times, fell in the second heat as she tried in vain to push through a wall of runners ahead of her. The heat was won by Beatrice Chepkoech in 4:08.29.
Isaac Makwala and Bralon Taplin look the favourites in the men’s 400m semi-finals, Makwala taking the first semi in 45.00 and Taplin the second in 45.44. India’s Muhammed Anas Yahiha matched Taplin’s time in taking the other semi-final.
Defending champion Stephenie McPherson was fastest in the morning’s women’s 400m heats, run in bright sunshine and a temperature of 30C. McPherson clocked 50.80.
The 2017 European champion Andrew Pozzi (ENG) was fastest in the 110m hurdles heats, running 13.29 to edge Antonio Alkana (RSA), 13.32.
Jamaican duo Hansle Parchment (13.30) and Ronald Levy (13.35) led the second heat with Milan Trajkovic (CYP) third in 13.36. The final is on Tuesday night (Australian time).
Len Johnson for the IAAF