England’s decathlete Dean Macey ended his four-year wait for a major championships title tonight when he took the gold medal at the 18th Commonwealth Games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today.
Macey, the 1999 World Championship silver and 2001 bronze medallist at the Decathlon, battled against injury to win his first major championships title, and produce the highlight of a night which saw England win three of the seven golds on offer, and six medals in all.
It’s a miracle
Macey’s victory came the hard way. Hamstrung by injury since he arrived in Australia, he somehow found the strength to hold off the challenge of Australia’s Jason Dudley and Jamaica’s Maurice Smith in the 1500m after he’d slipped to second place following the Javelin earlier in the day.
His victory means he can finally bury the memories from Manchester four years ago when he was favourite for gold but injured his hamstring two weeks before the Games and could not compete.
“I’m really made up,” said Macey. “It’s a miracle I made it to the start line. The treatment I’ve had has been a miracle, and getting to the finish line is even more of a miracle. I’m lucky, lucky, lucky.”
Smith won the silver and Dudley, who’d been leading before the 1500m, took the bronze.
Injury worries threatened to haunt Macey again
Macey’s overnight lead had been whittled down by Smith who leapt into second place in the morning with two excellent performances in the 110m Hurdles and the discus. Macey eased himself into the day in the 110m hurdles, running a conservative 14.94, good for 857 points.
“I was struggling a little bit,” said Macey. “I tightened up. I’ve been saving the leg which has hurt the other one.”
Smith ran the quickest time, 14.33, and chipped away further at Macey’s lead in the Discus, throwing 50.26m. Macey responded with a season’s best of 46.76 (803) to keep him ahead of the Jamaican by 58 points with three events to go.
Macey recovered ground in the Pole Vault, getting close to his best when he cleared 4.70. “I need that pole vault. Boy, I needed it,” he said. “That’s the highest I’ve jumped since 2001.”
He seemed to have the gold in his grasp at that point. But his injury troubles returned when he hurt his elbow on his first Javelin Throw. His javelin landed at 56.93, more than seven metres short of his best, while Dudley threw a personal best of 69.27 to jump from third to first place.
Macey now trailed by 37 points and started the 1500m knowing he needed to beat Dudley by six seconds to take the title. He clocked 4:34.22, nearly 30 seconds ahead of the Australian.
“The 1500m was hard, really hard,” said Macey. “Before the race I knew I was within three and three quarters of a lap from the gold but that was the longest three and a quarter laps of my life.”
Macey finished with a total of 8143. Smith overtook Dudley for second, finishing with 8074. Dudley finished with a personal best of 8001.
Appalling tactics but still gold for Dobriskey
Lisa Dobriskey brought England their second gold in the women’s 1500m. The 22-year-old brought back memories of Kelly Holmes’ heroics in Athens when she came from the back of the field to win a tight finish in 4:06.21.
“I just got a lucky break and went for it,” said Dobriskey. “My tactics were appalling and my coach (George Gandy) will kill me. I thought I could save myself but I got caught. Then with 100m to go I just went for it.”
Australia’s Sarah Jamieson took the silver in 4:06.64 with Wales’ Hayley Tullett claiming the bronze in 4:06.76.
Shock loss for Williams-Darling in day’s track finale
European under-23 silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu rounded off a great night for England when she beat the Bahamas’ Tonique Williams-Darling in the women’s 400m, the last event of the programme. Ohuruogu clocked a personal best of 50.28 to leave the World and Olympic champion trailing in her wake in the shock result of the night.
Ohuruogu ran a wonderfully-judged race. With Williams inside her, she saved enough strength to come back at the Bahamian and Williams-Darling’s team-mate Christine Amertil, in the final straight. The 21-year-old student crossed the line metres clear to set a personal best.
“I couldn’t ask for more than that,” she said afterwards. “I messed up in Helsinki (at the 2005 World Championships) and wasn’t going to let the chance slip by me again. I was just praying at the start and telling myself to do it.”
Williams-Darling knew she was beaten 40 metres from home and had to be satisfied with silver in 50.76. Amertil was overtaken in the charge for home by Jamaica’s Novlene Williams who claimed the bronze in 51.12.
Johnson succumbs to Kenyans
Kenyan distance runners broke the Australian’s hearts for the second night in a row when Lucy Wangui and Evelyne Wambui broke free of the crowd’s great hope Benita Johnson with three laps to go in the women’s 10,000m.
Like Craig Mottram last night, Johnson tried to hang on to the Kenyans’ pace and paid for it at the end. Wangui outkicked her team-mate for the gold, finishing in 31:29.47.
Wambui finished second in 31:30.86, while Johnson hit the wall with two laps to go and was caught by England’s Mara Yamauchi who claimed the bronze in 31:49.40.
Wignall and Smith - class acts
Jamaica’s Maurice Wignall was a class apart in the men’s 110m Hurdles final. The Jamaican won by some five metres from Scotland’s Chris Baillie in 13.26.
Always the favourite, Wignall had been the fastest qualifier from the semi-final earlier in the day when he cruised to 13.34.
World champion Trecia Smith won the women’s Triple Jump final. The Jamaican was the only athlete to leap beyond 14 metres, and hardly needed to extend herself to take the gold with 14.39m.
Nigeria’s Otonye Iworima took the silver with 13.53 and England’s Nadia Williams snatched a surprise bronze in a low level contest with 13.42.
The women’s Discus Throw was also of internationally low standard, as only two women broke 60 metres. South Africa’s Elizna Naude, won the gold with a respectable 61.55m, from Seema Antil of India and Dani Samuels of Australia.
News of Heats and Heptathlon…
It was a day for the multi-eventers as, unusually, the first day of the Heptathlon coincided with the conclusion of the decathlon. England’s Kelly Sotherton is on course to emulate Macey by winning her first multi-event championships gold medal tomorrow.
The Olympic bronze medallist ought to take the title easily, but had a small scare this morning when her young team-mate and sometime training partner Jessica Ennis, the European junior champion, was leading after two events, thanks to a superb PB in the High Jump.
Sotherton recovered in the evening and has an overnight lead over Ennis of 73 points at the end of the first day. Sotherton’s total is 3922, with Ennis on 3849, 25 ahead of Canada’s Jessica Zelinka.
Sotherton started superbly, running her best ever time in the 100m Hurdles. She also equalled her personal best in the High Jump, clearing 1.85m, while Ennis cleared 1.91. Sotherton threw 13.74 in the Shot Put and ran a personal best 23.56 in the 200m.
Australia’s John Steffensen was the fastest man in the men’s 400m semi-finals. He ran a personal best of 45.05 ahead of Grenada’s Alleyne Francique. England’s Martyn Rooney ran 45.35, breaking Roger Black’s 21-year-old UK junior record by one hundredth.
South Africa’s Alwyn Myburgh was the fastest qualifier from the men’s 400m Hurdles heats in 49.34, while Botswana’s Gable Garenmotse was the only long jumper to leap beyond eight metres in qualifying. He set a personal best of 8.15m to lead the 12 finallists.
World Indoor champion Ignisius Gaisah did just enough to qualify, leaping 7.91, one centimetre beyond the automatic distance.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF
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