Melbourne, AustraliaJamaica’s total dominance of the sprint events at the 2006 Commonwealth Games was completed in Melbourne tonight when they blitzed the field in both 4x100m relays, meaning Jamaican athletes have won both individual 100m titles, both 200m golds, both sprint hurdles and the two sprint relays.
Jamaica reiterates Commonwealth sprint dominance
It was a commanding way for the Caribbean islanders to conclude the Games, on a night that brought yet more gold medals for the hosts and success for England in the field at the MCG.
Jamaica’s sprint relay men, running an awesome foursome of Michael Frater, Ainsley Waugh, Chris Williams and Asafa Powell, came home in 38.36 to win the 4x100m gold, their task made all the easier by the Australians – their closest challengers – failing to get the baton home.
Like numerous teams yesterday, the Australians messed up at the final exchange when Adam Miller couldn’t catch Matt Shirvington to hand him the stick. Two other teams – Ghana and New Zealand – failed to finish too, allowing South Africa in 38.98 and Canada in 39.21 to take the minor medals.
Jamaica won the women’s race in 43.10 without the help of Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell. The quartet, which did include the 100m and 200m gold medallists, Sheri-Ann Brooks and Sherone Simpson, won by a third of a second from England and Australia.
Daniele Browning and Peta Dowdie ran legs one and three with Simpson bringing the baton home.
England won a surprise silver, salvaging something of the country’s relay reputation as they profited from another mistake by Australia at the final changeover. Australia did finish this time in 44.25 to take the bronze.
Mottram tumbles, Willis wins
Relays have provided a stream of comic and tragic moments over the last two days. But nothing as upsetting for the hosts as the moment that killed their great hopes in the men’s 1500m.
It was meant to be the race of the night, all set up to be a battle between New Zealand’s Nick Willis and the Australian favourite Craig Mottram, with England’s Nick McCormick an outsider. But it was another England athlete who was at the centre of night’s great theatre.
Willis won, giving his country its first major success at this event since the great days of John Walker, the 1976 Olympic champion. But he couldn’t have done so in more dramatic circumstances.
Approaching 800m, with McCormick leading and Willis in second, Andrew Baddeley was on Mottram’s shoulder when he was caught from behind and fell headlong into the back of Mottram’s legs. Both came crashing to the track, their medal hopes dashed.
Willis took up the pace immediately, stretching the field and opening a gap between the leaders and Mottram that the Australian could never make up. Willis went on to win in 3:38.49 with Canada’s Nathan Brannen benefiting from the tumbles to take silver in 3:39.20 and Australia’s Mark Fountain dipping in for bronze in 3:39.33.
“I can’t believe they didn’t pass me,” said the astonished Willis.
“All I remember is someone taking my legs away,” explained Baddeley later. “I went down and took Craig out with me, and I feel bad about that.”
Not as bad as Mottram, most probably. The packed MCG was baying for another home track win to finish their Games. “To finish the Commonwealth Games like that is frustrating,” said Mottram. “I’m disappointed but you’ve got to move on.
“That’s the highs and lows of sport, I guess. I’m pretty annoyed about it but I’ve got to take the positives out of the week.”
Idowu rises to the occasion
Phillips Idowu had his own reasons to feel positive tonight. The England man stamped his authority on the triple jump final from the very start when he produced a 17.45 leap in the first round. It was further than anyone else in the field had ever jumped, and only 23 centimetres short of his best ever.
No one else came close and the 27-year-old from Hackney in east London kept the triple jump title in England, turning his silver from 2002 into gold. Idowu finished second to world record holder Jonathan Edwards in Manchester but has struggled with injuries for much of the time since.
“That was more emotional for me tonight,” he said. “I jumped further in Manchester but this meant more because it’s been difficult over the last four years.”
Khotso Mokoena of South Africa was second with a best of 16.95 and Australia’s Alwyn Jones was third with 16.75.
Nieland spears unanticipated Javelin gold
England’s other success came through Nick Nieland, who proved that it’s never too late when he won the javelin tonight at the age of 35. The nearest he has come to a title before this evening is a bronze at the last Commonwealth Games in Manchester four years ago.
He out-threw the opposition to win the javelin with a first round effort of 80.10. Nieland was the only man to get beyond 80, and sealed his victory in the sixth with 80.06 before jumping for joy.
“Age is irrelevant,” said Nieland, who’s coached by four-time European champion Steve Backley. “I’m in the shape of my life and this feels great. It shows what you can do if you are injury free.”
Australians took the minor medals – William Harris winning silver with 79.89 and Oliver Dziubak taking bronze with 77.16.
After another DQ, Australian women take 4x400
England looked like they had bagged a third gold in the women’s 4x400m when individual winner Christine Ohuruogu brought home the baton ahead of Australia in 3:27.17. But the English were later disqualified for not being in the right position when exchanging the baton from second to third legs.
It was another race that Jamaica may well have won if they hadn’t dropped the baton between their second and third leg runners.
At the end of it all Australia were presented with the gold after running 3:28.66, with India second and South Africa third.
Kiprop dedicates win to Bekele
Uganda’s Boniface Kiprop won the men’s 10,000m final in 27:50.99 and then dedicated his medal to Kenenisa Bekele. His victory wasn’t exactly Bekele-esque, although his race had some similarities to the great Ethiopian.
Kiprop led a group of four Africans clear of the rest from before the half way stage and pulled the procession along for much of the next eleven and a half laps before he kicked for home, outsprinting Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipngeno and Tanzania’s Fabian Joseph.
“It’s my first major medal,” said Kiprop. “Kenenisa Bekele is my friend and hero and I want to run like him.
“Everyone at home will be very proud of me,” he added.
Kipngeno took silver in 27:51.16 and Joseph the bronze in 27:51.99, with Kenya’s Paul Langat the unlucky man to miss out in fourth.
As Games conclude, 2 more wins for the hosts
The Games were rounded off in appropriate fashion with two more golds going to the hosts.
First Australia won an action packed men’s 4x400m relay in 3:00.93. The fast-finishing Louis van Zyl brought South Africa’s successful Games to a conclusion by taking the silver medal (3:01.84) a tenth ahead of Jamaica whose Jermaine Gonzales outdipped England’s Martyn Rooney for the bronze.
Then, minutes later, Kim Howe sent the crowd home extra happy when she celebrated winning the pole vault with a Games record clearance of 4.50.
Howe’s team-mate Tatiana Grigorieva finished off the hosts medal-haul with a silver after clearing 4.35, and Canada’s Stephanie McCann took the bronze on count-back from her compatriot Dana Ellis after both cleared 4.25.
Those final two victories gave Australia a final gold medal count of 16. They sit well clear at the top of the medal table with 41 in total, followed by Jamaica with 22, England with 18 and Kenya with 15.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF