Katarina Johnson-Thompson defies injury to win gold in the women’s heptathlon while it’s a medal-filled day for the home nations on the diving boards. It’s all the latest headlines from day nine of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
- England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson finally lands her first major global outdoor title with teammate Niamh Emerson clinching an impressive bronze
- Home nations divers win all three diving gold medals on offer, with Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow (men’s 10m synchro), Grace Reid (1m springboard) and Jack Laugher and Chris Mears (3m springboard) all taking top spot on the podium. Reid makes history as the first Scottish female diver to medal at a Commonwealth Games
- Gold for Scotland men’s fours lawn bowlers as they defeat Australia while England beat Wales for bronze. England’s Robert Paxton also beats Scotland’s Darren Burnett for men’s singles bronze while there is Scottish bronze in the women’s pairs
- No fewer than 13 fighters from the home nations move into their respective finals on Saturday
- Celebrations in the England women’s basketball camp as they defeat Canada 65-53 to reach the gold-medal match but England men will play for hockey bronze after losing their semi-final 2-1 to Australia. Scotland place sixth with Wales ninth
- Earlier success includes hoop silver for Welsh rhythmic gymnast Laura Halford while there are shooting medals for Wales, England and Scotland and wrestling silver and bronze for Kane Charig and Charlie Bowling
Johnson-Thompson breaks her global outdoor heptathlon duck
The tears in Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s eyes at the finish line signified many things.
There was the sheer joy at sealing her maiden major outdoor heptathlon title but there was also the pain of the calf injury she had to overcome to claim it.
The 25-year-old produced northern grit when she needed it most on the Gold Coast, fighting her way to a Commonwealth Games gold medal on Friday in the Carrara Stadium.
The overnight leader, Johnson-Thompson had felt a twinge in her calf in the final event on Thursday night – the 200m.
That meant she had to nurse herself through the final three events on Friday – starting with the long jump and the javelin before the gruelling 800m finale.
By the start line for the final two-lap race, she had more than a 100-point lead, meaning her nearest rival Nina Schultz of Canada would need to beat her time by roughly 14 seconds to take gold off her.
But that was never going to happen – not on the Liverpudlian’s watch – as she sucked it up and limped home for her second gold of the season already after the world indoors in Birmingham.
“It was emotional, a very emotional day for me so I am so happy just to finish the heptathlon,” she said.
“After the 200m last night, I could feel something in my calf and it worsened in the long jump so I had to manage it.
“I thought it was under control until 300m into the 800m – then I felt it and thought about stopping but I carried on.
“Obviously I haven’t set the world alight with my performances, but I am so proud of myself for coming here, without training after Birmingham, been competitive and got a second gold medal of the year.”
There was also an impressive bronze for England teammate Niamh Emerson who streaked clear to win the final 800m and climb from fourth into the bronze medal position.
“I always wanted to get a medal, it was always my aim,” she said. “But wanting to get it and actually doing so are two very different things, so I’m very happy! KJT is very inspirational – she’s very helpful, just saying little things that help.”
Earlier in the day, Matthew Hudson-Smith pulled up injured in the opening leg of the men’s 4x400m relay heats, meaning the team were eliminated but there was better news for the men’s 4x100m team as they made the final.
Golden treble for Laugher as divers impress
The athletes might have the monopoly on Super Saturday but England’s divers made it Fantastic Friday as Jack Laugher capped off ‘the best day in English diving history’ to complete a hat-trick of titles.
Laugher has become such a consistent sport in the force that he almost stole the limelight from Tom Daley as he took his third gold of the week alongside Chris Mears in the 3m synchro – the event where they won Olympic gold in Rio two years ago.
The English medal rush had started with Daley, who combined with Dan Goodfellow to take victory in the 10m synchro, with Noah Williams and Matty Dixon taking silver in that event.
From a wider British perspective, Grace Reid earned gold for Scotland in the 1m springboard – the first female Commonwealth diving medal claimed by a Scot – and for Laugher, who overtook Daley with his fifth Commonwealth gold, there have been few better days on the boards.
He said: “It's been a fantastic day. For all of us to get medals today. British diving's looking extremely strong at the moment. Today's been one of the best in English diving history.
“I've dived brilliantly over these past three days, but it hasn't been easy at all. I've had to dive really well to get these titles and I'm really proud of getting them and how I've performed.”
And after a 2017 where he started to question his love of the sport, Mears was thrilled to be back on top of the diving world – taking gold in his only event in Gold Coast.
He said: “I dug myself out of the hole I was in. And now I feel like myself again. I love competing under pressure. I've been a diver since I was seven years old. It's part of my identity. It just feels right.”
Reid meanwhile was struggling to take it all in after gold in the 1m springboard.
"Honestly I am absolutely speechless. I went in to this this morning to enjoy it and give it everything I had, so to walk away with a gold medal - I never would have believed you,” she said.
“I am absolutely loving my sport. I am loving what I do and that enjoyment is giving me a massive boost of confidence.”
Boxers step up to the mark in the ring
Pat McCormack is one of 16 United Kingdom boxers who will battle it out for gold on Saturday after coming through his 69kg semi-final with ease Down Under.
The Englishman beat Manoj Kumar on a unanimous decision to set up a bout with Northern Ireland’s Aidan Walsh, though brother Luke had to settle for bronze after he lost out.
Fellow English fighters Lisa Whiteside and Paige Murney are in action however in the women’s 51kg and 60kg classifications respectively, while Galal Yafai is competing in the men’s 46-49kg.
There’s another all UK bout with Wales’ Rosie Eccles facing England's Sandy Ryan after they came through their semi-finals, with Peter McGrail of England up against Northern Ireland’s Kurt Walker.
His compatriots Kristina O’Hara, Michaela Walsh, Brendan Irvine and Carly McNaul also go for gold – the latter against Whiteside, with Wales’ Sammy Lee and Lauren Price in action in the penultimate fight of the day before Frazer Clarke wraps up the Gold Coast ring action against Satish Kumar.
England women to bid for basketball gold
The last time basketball was included in the Commonwealth Games, England women finished with a bronze.
They are guaranteed to beat that on the Gold Coast after shocking world number five team Canada in their semi-final match, 65-53 the scoreline.
Rachael Vanderwal scored 20 points as England gained revenge for their 80-54 opening Pool A match loss – in some style too – and they now play hosts Australia for gold.
“I’m just in shock, that’s a remarkable performance in one of the biggest matches of our careers,” said Azania Stewart, who played for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.
“We never stopped believing in ourselves and we wanted to get away with a medal, now it’s silver or gold and it feels amazing.
“Australia are a great team, I'm just really excited to be in the final, it’s going to be so amazing.”
Paxton bounces back to take bronze
Robert Paxton showed all his trademark fighting spirit to rebound from defeat and claim Commonwealth Games lawn bowls bronze.
Paxton was looking to become the first English player to win the men’s singles title since the legendary David Bryant 40 years ago.
But after being edged out by eventual gold medalist, Australia’s Aaron Wilson, in his semi-final, the world indoor runner-up had just a couple of hours to recover before taking on Scotland’s Darren Burnett.
Burnett won gold four years ago in Glasgow but Paxton had his measure in a see-saw match, winning 21-14.
“You come here to win the gold but as soon as that wasn’t to be I was quick to reset my sights on just making the podium,” said Paxton.
“It wasn’t that hard to refocus, this is a match for a medal at the Commonwealth Games after all. I just cleared my mind and knuckled down and got back on the job in hand.
“To beat the current world champion and the current Commonwealth singles champion is not a bad weeks work.
“There are so many top quality bowlers in this field and to come away with a medal is the thing you dream about.”
Click here to read about earlier success for Scotland and England
The day began with major milestones for Wales and Scotland. Laura Halford’s rhythmic gymnastics silver ensured Wales have enjoyed their best overseas Commonwealth Games while lawn bowler Alex Marshall helped the men’s team to gold to becomes Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Games athlete.
Read more here
Elsewhere on the Gold Coast
There was double wrestling success for the home nations as Wales’ Kane Charig took silver in the men’s 65kg final while England’s Charlie Bowling also won the bronze-medal fight.
Liam Pitchford already had a team bronze medal on the Gold Coast but the England table tennis player is guaranteed more after reaching the final of the men’s doubles alongside Paul Drinkhall, while he also goes in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles with Tin-Tin Ho.
England’s badminton players are still chasing the medals too, while Kirsty Gilmour flies the flag for Scotland after reaching the semi-finals of the women’s singles.
The competition has also reached the semi-finals stages of the doubles in squash while there was last four heartbreak for England men’s who lost to Australia 2-1 and will now face India for bronze.
Day ten preview
Just two days remain but the action far from slows down, with the England male and female hockey teams both in action in bronze-medal matches.
By that point the men’s cycling road race will be in full swing, with Adam Blythe and Luke Rowe among those fighting for medals.
But it’s earlier in the day where the real drama could come – at 22:45 on Friday to be exact – with Olympic title-winning teammates Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker again locking horns, this time in the women’s road race.
On the more even surface of the track, there is plenty to be excited about as Morgan Lake represents England in the high jump at 05:25 while Eilish McColgan, Steph Twell and Laura Weightman are among those running 5000m.
That’s not all though with the 4x100m relays seeing England take to the start line, looking to back up the medals secured at the past two Games, plus medals will be decided in badminton, squash and table tennis.