In an action-packed opening night on the track, England won eight medals, two of them gold, with Hannah Cockroft powering to 16.84 in the women’s T33-34 100m to claim her first-ever Commonwealth Games title and seal a 1-2-3 for the host nation.
The England team captain (Jennifer Banks, Leeds City AC) set a Games record ahead of Kare Adenegan (Job King, Coventry Godiva Harriers) who took the silver in 17.79 whilst Fabienne Andre (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) finished fast for the bronze medal in 19.58.
It was England’s second gold in the space of five magic minutes after Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker (Coral Nourrice, Newham and Essex Beagles / Loughborough Students) powered out of the blocks to clock 10.94 in the men’s T45-47 100m. It was his first time under 11 seconds and the result never looked in doubt as he opened up a huge lead in the first 30 metres.
Ola Abidogun (Graham Pilkington, Horwich) was rewarded with the bronze in a season’s best of 11.13, while James Arnott (City of Plymouth) also ran a season’s best of 11.45 in fourth.
“It went perfectly to plan. To be honest it was almost like a dream. Last night I was thinking about different scenarios, but my main thought was to give it my best effort,” said Oyinbo-Coker.
“Afterwards, I could hear my little brother screaming my name, so I ran straight to him after the race. It’s really good to have my family’s support. I think I had 20 family members here cheering me on.”
Halfway to women’s heptathlon gold, Katrina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore, Liverpool Harriers) — the defending champion and the leader after the morning session — threw a season’s best of 12.94 in the first round of the shot to maintain that lead. But behind her England’s Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Andover) and Jade O’Dowda (John Lane, Newham and Essex Beagles) closed the gap thanks to opening throws of 12.98 from Mills and 13.29 by O’Dowda.
Going into the 200, Johnson-Thompson led, with Mills 29 points adrift in third and O’Dowda just 56 points further back in fourth in what was turning out to be a close competition. Johnson-Thompson, out in lane five, had a great start and pulled further and further away in the final 50 metres to stretch her lead thanks to a solid looking 23.70. O’Dowda just out-leaned Mills on the line for fourth and fifth, 25.04 and 25.12. It means Johnson-Thompson heads to day two of the heptathlon with 3765 with Mills 163 points back in fourth and O’Dowda close behind at just 183 points off the lead.
“I’m tired. It’s been a long day, starting at 9am, so my alarm was set for me to rise at 6am, and we are one of the last events to finish here today,” said Johnson-Thompson.
“However, I’ve had a few season’s bests, and I’m planning for a few more season’s bests tomorrow. Let’s see where that takes me.”
England’s first medal in the field – a silver – went to Molly Caudery (Scott Simpson, Thames Valley Harriers) in the women’s pole vault thanks to her first-time clearance at 4.45. Australia’s Nina Kennedy was the gold medallist with 4.60, while Sophie Cook (Scott Simpson, Halesowen) was eighth in 4.25. “Eugene was such a disappointment for me, but this is amazing and makes up for that,” said Caudery. “It was a pretty surreal experience but I’m really happy with the structure of the competition. I cleared every height first time. I really wanted to do well here.
Last night I even had a dream I was third and then woke up and realised it was just a dream. But now I have the silver!”
“I am so excited to be in front of this crowd and I’m so proud to be here,” she added.
The women’s discus saw English record holder Jade Lally (Zane Duquemin, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) open her account with 57.31 to take an early lead. Going into the fourth round Lally, sixth in the Games back in 2010 in Delhi and bronze medallist in 2014 in Glasgow, still held that lead. Nigeria’s Chioa Onyekwere then threw a season’s best of 61.70 to relegate her to the silver medal. She saved her best throw until the final round, throwing 58.42 but it wasn’t far enough, and gold went to Nigeria.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Andrew Pozzi (Stratford-upon-Avon) clocked an automatic qualifying time of 13.41 in third place in the first heat before Joshua Zeller (Steve Rajewsky, Bracknell AC) went one better, placing second in 13.35. The winner of that heat, Jamaica’s Rasheed Broadbell looks like the one to beat thanks to a controlled 13.16 victory.
England’s first medal of the evening went to Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood), the defending champion in the women’s T37/38 100 who finished second this time around. She started superbly but couldn’t react when Wales’ Olivia Breen (Aston Moore, City of Portsmouth) surged past in the final 20 metres to win the first of the 54 track and field golds available at these Games. Breen was rewarded with a personal best of 12.83 while Hahn stopped the clock at 13.09. “I wasn’t happy as I really wanted to retain my title,” said a disappointed Hahn.