Blessing Okagbare wins the Commonwealth 100m title (© Getty Images)
Jamaica won two gold medals at the second night of athletics at the Commonwealth Games on Monday (28). True to the nation’s sprint heritage, one came in the men’s 100m, but the other came from the shot circle. There were also gold medals for Nigeria and Canada on another record-breaking evening at Hampden Park.
Multi-talented Blessing Okagbare won the women’s 100m in a Commonwealth Games record of 10.85 from Jamaican duo Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart who took silver and bronze in 11.03 and 11.07 respectively. Nigerian Okagbare won long jump silver and 200m bronze at last year’s IAAF World Championships.
Asked what her best event is, she said: “I would say the 200m. The 200m is a little easier for me to digest than the 100m. The 100m is so fast and whatever mistake you make it is so difficult to make up for it.
“Everything has been based on the Commonwealth Games for me this year,” she added. “It’s my first Commonwealth Games. I want to enjoy it, I want to have fun, I want to cheer everyone up, but at the same time I want to win a gold medal.”
Jamaica dominates 100m and shot
Despite the absence of Olympic champion Usain Bolt and 2011 world champion Yohan Blake, yet another 100m gold medal went to Jamaica. Kemar Bailey-Cole took the latest title as he recovered from a sluggish start to power through and win his first major individual medal in 10.00.
There was a popular silver for former world junior champion Adam Gemili of England in 10.10. Bronze went to Bailey-Cole’s team-mate Nickel Ashmeade in 10.12. Trinidad and Tobago’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson was surprisingly eliminated in the semi-finals.
“I could have gone faster if I had got the start,” said Bailey-Cole. “First individual medal, I can’t complain. Jamaica is the number 1 in sprints, we have to keep the trend going.”
New Zealand’s world indoor bronze medallist Tom Walsh led the men’s shot put after the first three rounds. But then Jamaican O’Dayne Richards uncorked a stunning national record of 21.61m.
It was also a Commonwealth Games record, bettering Walsh’s own mark of 21.24m set only the day before. The New Zealander responded with 21.19m, but was forced to settle for silver. Canada’s Tim Nedow took the bronze with 20.59m.
“I’ve been throwing over 21.5m in training since December, it just hasn’t come out yet in competition until today,” said Richards.
He also had some kind word for silver medallist Walsh: “He’s encouraging. He smiles a lot, and helps other competitors to relax; a great guy. I was not confident, he is consistently over 21. He got the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships and beat me by far. Today was the day it came together.”
Frizell skates away with gold
Former figure skater Sultana Frizell successfully defended her Commonwealth hammer crown with a Games record of 71.97m. New Zealand’s Julia Ratcliffe led after throwing 69.96m in the third round, but Canadian Frizell justified her pre-event favourite status as she produced the gold medal-winning distance in the fifth round. England’s Sophie Hitchon won bronze with 68.72m.
Afterwards, Frizell said she had been wary of the challenge posed by her fellow competitors. “Every girl’s a threat,” she said. “We are crazy inside. In the hammer throw, anyone can come out and unleash one, so you never know.”
Drouin, Obiri and James easily advance
Thirteen athletes progressed to Wednesday’s men’s high jump final, all with a 2.20m clearance. Qualifiers included Canada’s Olympic bronze medallist Derek Drouin and former world champion Donald Thomas of The Bahamas.
England’s Nick Miller headed the qualifiers for the men’s hammer final with a final-round throw of 72.76m. Commonwealth No.1 Jim Steacy of Canada will join him in Tuesday’s final after a first-round effort of 70.62m.
There were two swift semi-finals for the women’s 1500m. First Hellen Obiri won in a Commonwealth Games record of 4:04.43, then her fellow Kenyan Faith Kipyegon stretched away to win her heat in 4:05.77. The host country will have high hopes that Laura Muir can get in the medal frame for Tuesday’s final after she qualified third-fastest overall in 4:05.19.
Running from the inside lane, Olympic champion Kirani James eased through the men’s 400m heats, winning in 45.52. Also impressive was Isaac Makwala who won his heat in 45.33.
In the women’s one-lap semis, Jamaica’s Stephenie-Ann McPherson was the fastest qualifier with 50.69. Former world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana also booked a place in Tuesday’s final, clocking 50.96.
World bronze medallist Damien Warner leads the decathlon after five events with 4378. England’s John Lane sits in silver position overnight with 4294 and Kurt Felix of Grenada occupies bronze with 4228.
The women’s triple jump qualifiers were led by world indoor bronze medallist Kimberly Williams of Jamica with 13.94m. The final takes place on Tuesday evening.
Chris Broadbent for the IAAF