Alys Thomas wins Wales’ first medal in the pool while Adam Peaty is forced to settle for silver behind rival Cameron van der Burgh. Here’s the latest headlines from day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
- Welsh swimmer Alys Thomas takes gold in the women’s 200m butterfly while Adam Peaty and James Wilby win silver and bronze in the 50m breaststroke behind Cameron van der Burgh.
- James Willstrop’s long wait for a Commonwealth Games title comes to an end with men’s singles success with England teammate Sarah-Jane Perry and Wales Tesni Evans winning women’s silver and bronze respectively
- England men’s table tennis team bounce back from semi-final defeat to Nigeria to beat reigning champions Singapore for bronze
- There are also weightlifting bronze medals for Owen Boxall (men’s 105kg) and Emily Campbell (+90kg)
- Disappointment for Asha Philip in the women’s 100m as she misses out on a medal in fourth
- Earlier success includes a successful last day of gymnastics competition for the home nations plus badminton team bronze for England
Peaty and Wilby make the podium as Thomas shines
Adam Peaty showed his human side in the pool by losing his first major long course final in four years before demonstrating his human side out of it with his gracious acceptance of defeat to friend and rival Cameron van der Burgh.
You have to go back to Glasgow 2014 for a trace of Peaty’s last loss over 50m or 100m breaststroke in a major competition – and just like he did then, it was South African Van der Burgh who bested him, with England teammate James Wilby completing the full set of medals Down Under with bronze.
“As an athlete, obviously I'm disappointed. I've never had a 50m Commonwealth title. I've had the rest, but not this one,” said Peaty, who won 100m breaststroke on Saturday.
“As a person and as a character in the sport, away from the actual racing, I'm so happy for Cam. He's put that work in, got that transition right where he's enjoying the sport and performing.
“Even though it's a silver, I'm more happy with that silver than I was the gold the other day. I know where to improve now, know where to get that performance from and it gives me a reality check.”
There was also a third silver of the meet for James Guy in the men’s 100m butterfly while Ben Proud clocked a new Games record of 21.30 to qualify for the 50m freestyle final.
However the other headline-grabbing performance in the pool belonged to Welsh swimmer Alys Thomas.
The 27-year-old, who only made her major international debut at last year’s World Championships, beat Australian duo Laura Taylor and Emma McKeon to win Wales’ first swimming medal of the Games in the 200m butterfly.
"I couldn't see anything. My goggles were smudged up. So I just swam my own race," Thomas said.
"I bet my coach if I did this I could shave his head so I guess I'm shaving his head!
"I'm 27 and this is my first major international medal. I'm finally breaking through now. It says something about being patient when you're young."
Familiar feeling for Philip
Asha Philip has got that familiar sinking feeling after just missing out on a Commonwealth medal for the second time in a row in the women’s 100m.
Philip arrived on the Gold Coast full of confidence after being crowned European Indoor champion and cruising through her heat and semi-final.
But on the big stage, she produced a time of 11.28seconds which was only good enough for fourth – exactly where she finished in the same final four years ago in Glasgow.
Philip’s semi-final time of 11.21 would have won her the silver medal on the Gold Coast and while the relay is still to come for Philip, for now there is plenty to ponder.
“I am gutted, I know I am so much better than that and then I go and do that,” she said.
“I am not saying it was an easy medal, but it was a medal that was up for grabs and I have come again to the Commonwealth Games and come fourth.
“I just don’t understand why I keep doing that, I have got so much in me and after the semi I was so confident and then that happens. I just don’t understand why I perform like that.”
It was bad news in the men’s 100m as well as Adam Gemili was forced to pull out through injury before the race as Akani Simbine took gold, former world champion and pre-race favourite Yohan Blake forced to settle for bronze.
Northern Ireland’s Emma Mitchell set a new national record 32:49.91 as she finished as the highest British athlete in 15th in the 10,000m final, with Wales’ Jennifer-Louise Nesbitt 17th and Scotland’s Beth Potter 18th.
Earlier in the day, England’s Andrew Pozzi qualified fastest for the men’s 110m hurdles.
Willstrop lands gold at last
The Gold Coast is famed for its rollercoasters – the perfect metaphor for the career of squash star James Willstrop.
There have been dizzying highs but plenty of plunging lows too – including defeats to arch-rival Nick Matthew in the last two Commonwealth Games squash singles finals.
But Willstrop – who had lost in his previous six major finals – produced arguably the best 50 minutes of his squash in his career to finally claim gold here.
New Zealand’s Paul Coll is one of squash’s rising stars – earning the nickname Superman for his trademark flying dives around the court.
If Matthew proved Willstrop’s kryptonite during a long-standing and often bitter rivalry, this time there was no stopping the 34-year old.
“That’s got to be best title of my life, I’m not sure anything could live up to this. It’s just the most wonderful moment of my career,” he said, after winning 11-9, 11-4, 11-6.
“I’ve heard it said that I’ve not quite achieved the things that I should done but now I’m here with a gold medal, it’s very hard to process.
“It just clicked, it’s the stuff you dream of. Perhaps all the hours I’ve put in training finally paid off with the perfect match.”
Once written off as too big to play squash, Willstrop’s England team-mate Sarah-Jane Perry took women’s singles silver - and now she wants a gold upgrade in her hometown in four years.
Perry pushed world number four Joelle King – who had beaten her in their four previous encounters – the distance, before losing in a decider, while Wales’ Tesni Evans beat Malaysia’s Nicol David for bronze, with teammate Joel Makin just missing out after losing the men’s bronze medal match.
England table tennis quartet dig deep for bronze
Games veteran Paul Drinkhall needed to rally himself to claim team table tennis bronze.
The 28-year old - who won world team bronze in 2016 - is competing at his third Games, having won team silver in 2010 and 2014.
He was downbeat after a shock semi-final defeat to Nigeria but, within an hour, was back to help his team, including Liam Pitchford, David McBeath and Samuel Walker, defeat reigning champions and favourites Singapore to take the final stop on the podium.
“We didn’t dwell on the defeat, we knew we had a job to do to get a medal," he said.
“I’m really proud of how the team responded. We’ve been working so hard for this and we wanted to have something to show for it.
“My job was to go out there and win that first match and get a bit of confidence going.
“It’s my fifth Commonwealth Games medal and they are all very special. I’ve got the singles and doubles to come now, so the celebration can wait for a few days.”
Pitchford meanwhile picked up his sixth Commonwealth Games medal, putting him alongside Andrew Baggaley in the list of England medallists.
It was an impressive final day for England’s gymnasts, including yet another gold for the in-form Nile Wilson.
There were also shooting medals for Wales and Northern Ireland while Wales upset Scotland to take lawn bowls glory and England bagged themselves a further two bronze medals in the weightlifting, through Owen Boxall and Emily Campbell.
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Elsewhere on the Gold Coast
England suffered a heavy 118-55 defeat to Australia in their final Pool A match but have a chance to bounce back in their quarter-final against Jamaica tomorrow.
England women earned a place in the semi-finals of the women’s hockey competition with a 3-0 win over Malaysia while there were defeats for Wales and Scotland against South Africa and Ghana respectively.
England women rounded off their pool B netball campaign with a perfect 100 per cent record, courtesy of a 85-31 win over Wales, while Scotland suffered a 60-29 defeat at the hands of new Zealand.
It will be England versus Scotland in the beach volleyball after Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf set up a quarter-final tie against Seain Cook and Robin Brodzki while England’s Jess Grimson and Victoria Palmer and Scotland’s Lynne Beattie and Melissa Coutts also moved into Tuesday’s quarters.
And finally, lightweight Calum French showed no signs of nerves as he joined club mates Luke and Pat McCormack in the second round of the Commonwealth Games boxing competition - just one win from a guaranteed medal.
Coming up on day six
Commonwealth champion Katie Archibald will switch her attentions from the track to the road on day six, with the women’s time trial on her mind at 05:45.
Jazz Carlin is back in action, this time across a 400m freestyle event in which she has won Olympic and Commonwealth silver, joined in the pool by Ben Proud in his 50m sprint at 10:45.
There is also relay action to look out for, with England to compete in the men’s 4x100m medley.
At the same time, the athletics continues to hit its stride at 10:45 when Andrew Pozzi goes for England in the 110m hurdles, with Sophie Hitchon taking to the field for the women’s hammer an hour later.
Finally, the night will begin with eyes firmly on the table tennis as 11-year-old Anna Hursey, thought to be Wales’ youngest competitor at senior level in any sport, competing in the group stage.