Team England won both men’s and women’s 4x100m relays in spectacular fashion, as the track and field programme at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games drew to a conclusion.
In an unchanged line up from the previous day’s heat, Reuben Arthur (Enfield and Haringey, Ryan Freckleton), making his senior debut at these championships, once again led the team, passing to Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet, Glen Mills), who surged ahead of both Jamaica and South Africa.
Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough (Mandale)), who ran the third leg as the team won silver four years ago, resumed that role and gave a three metre lead to Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton, Benke Blomkvist). The 29-year-old didn’t look like being passed, as he held off the fast-finishing 100m individual champion Akani Simbine and Jamaica’s Yohan Blake with aplomb.
With the clock displaying 38.13, the quartet were delighted with their performance.
“It’s a testament to the strength and depth we have in the team at the moment,” said Arthur. “There are a lot of people that we have here and lot that aren’t here – we have a wealth of sprinters in our country that can run faster than we ever have done.”
Kilty agreed: “On the back of an amazing World Championships last year, we’re winning again which shows that we’re strong – it’s a completely different team to who ran in London so it shows the strength. Zharnel has got his gold now after a tough time the other day. Harry and I got a silver last time round, so it’s great to have a gold now.”
In the women’s race, long jump fourth-placer Lorraine Ugen (Thames Valley, Shawn Jackson) was a surprise selection on the anchor leg, but the 26-year-old produced the sprints performance of her life, holding off Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson to secure gold in 42.46.
Asha Philip (Newham and Essex Beagles, Steve Fudge) had produced a typically quick start, passing to 200m bronze medalist Dina Asher-Smith (Blackheath and Bromley, John Blackie) and the 22-year-old passed to Bianca Williams with a lead.
Williams, a finalist here over 200m, exchanged slickly with Ugen, which gave a five metre lead that was enough for the jumps specialist to work with.
“I did my first changeovers earlier today,” revealed Ugen. “But it went pretty well. I knew if I was going to get called up that I’d only accept it if I knew I could do a good job. The girls gave me a really big lead so all I had to do was hold it. All I was thinking was ‘keep running, keep running’. I don’t think I’ve done a relay since university.”
Silver for Lake, Bronze for Weightman
Morgan Lake (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow, Fuzz Caan) claimed her first senior championship medal, following a mature performance in the high jump.
The 20-year-old Olympic finalist took two attempts to clear 1.84m but thereafter had a clean record to 1.91m, which ensured a share of the lead. A second time, smooth clearance at 1.93m meant she attempted 1.95m in gold medal position and guaranteed silver, but despite her best efforts it was St Lucia’s Levern Spencer who took the title as she made 1.95m at the first time of asking.
Lake, who attempted 1.97m, was nevertheless satisfied with the outcome.
“It’s my first championship medal and it’s silver – I’m definitely happy with that,” she confirmed. “I’ve been feeling in really good shape so I passed to 1.97m as I thought I had nothing to lose. I had a good last attempt at it.
“It’s a bit bitter-sweet as I was in the lead going into the last jump, but I can’t be disappointed with silver. Although the height wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, I feel I competed well. I was comfortable in the environment which gives me confidence for the future. I’m back into a big block of training now, heading into Europeans.”
Bethan Partridge took a top eight spot, finishing with 1.84m.
In only her second ever race over 5000m, Laura Weightman (Morpeth, Steve Cram) took some notable scalps to claim an impressive bronze medal.
The north east athlete stepped up from 1500m at the start of the year – although does expect to return to the shorter distance this summer – and worked her way through the field gradually, powering past the Ugandan Juliet Chekwel with intent down the back straight on the final lap.
The performance earned her a second Commonwealth medal after winning 1500m silver four years ago in Glasgow.
The leading Kenyans, Hellen Obiri and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, sewed up the gold and silver medals with a laps to spare, such was their lead. Weightman had to be more measured, and her determination over the closing laps confirmed her return to the podium in a time of 15:25.84.
She said after her lap of honour: “I’m asking myself the question of why I chose the 5000m instead of the 1500m with the pain I’m in now. I like a challenge I suppose. I wanted to do something different. I’ve been doing 1500m since I was 21 so I thought, this was the chance to try the 5000m at a championship. I wanted to test myself and I’m really pleased I came here and did that.
“I’m absolutely delighted to get a medal. I’m going back to 1500m for this summer – it’s a little bit long for me right now. I was told to go out there and race and leave nothing out there. I was just thinking on the last lap, dig in and work hard – I’ve had a fantastic build-up to this race.”
She added: “When I went past the Ugandan athlete at 200m to go and she didn’t respond, I knew I’d got it. That last 100m I thought ‘I can’t believe I’m about to do this’.”
Narrow misses for Da’Vall Grice, Douglas and 4x400m team
Charlie Da’Vall Grice (Brighton Phoenix, Jon Bigg) placed an agonising fourth in a highly competitive 1500m final won by Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi in 3:34.78.
The 24-year-old Brighton man took up the perfect position on the first couple of laps, sitting in with a pack that allowed Kenyan duo Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot dictate the pace.
It was on the third lap that moves started to be made and by the bell, Da’Vall Grice found himself in a position to attack with the chasing pack.
Only with 150 metres remaining did Scotland’s Jake Wightman break clear decisively, as the Team England man finished in a strong 3:37.43.
“It’s fourth place, no one wants to come fourth,” he said. “You’ve got nothing to show for your efforts. I tried to be really relaxed for the first half, but I just didn’t have enough. My speed is getting there, but there’s a way to go. I might have just scraped the European qualifying time, so that’s something.”
Nathan Douglas (Oxford City, Aston Moore) was disappointed to finish fifth in the men’s triple jump final, admitting to struggles with his run-up during the competition.
His best effort of 16.37m came in round one, and initially put him in third position. He matched that distance in round two but four no jumps followed and, when the contest ended, he had slipped down to fifth.
Douglas assessed the competition: “I’m extremely disappointed if I’m honest. I came in with my eyes fully on that gold medal. I knew it was within my reach, those distances are definitely within my reach. Today I just couldn’t find a pattern on the runway at all. I seemed to really struggle and every run was different. I was trying to find rhythm and if you’re trying, straight away you know how much of a problem there is.”
The England team narrowly missed out on a medal in the women’s 4x400m relay, despite a valiant effort by Emily Diamond (Bristol & West, Jared Deacon) on the final leg, she was reeled in by the Commonwealth individual champion Amantle Montso who ultimately grabbed the bronze medal for Botswana.
Co-captain of the athletics team Anyika Onuora (Liverpool Harriers, Rana Reider) led the team out, putting Finette Agyapong (Newham & Essex Beagles, Coral Nourrice) into second on the handover.
Agyapong – making her senior Games debut on the Gold Coast – ran well, fighting with the leaders but ultimately handed over to Perri shakes-Drayton in fourth.
The latter moved the team up to third place on her leg, rapidly closing down the Nigerian’s in second, however, despite going out hard, Diamond was passed with 20 metres remaining.
Diamond commented: “There were some incredibly strong athletes on that fourth leg. I knew everyone would be chasing me quickly, wherever I was placed. I tried to give myself the best possible chance. I knew if they took me early, they’d have the strength to push it on during the home straight.
“I did my best to get out hard and make them work hard if they were going to go passed me. I really tried; I didn’t feel Montsho until the last few metres. She’s a Commonwealth champion; it’s a tough ask to go with her.”