Usain Bolt at the 2014 Commonwealth Games (© Getty Images)
Even on a rare evening of Scottish sunshine, the Commonwealth Games was hit with a lightning bolt as the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, took to the track for the first time in Glasgow and thrilled a packed crowd at Hampden Park, crossing the line in his customary position of first place on Friday (1).
The crowds at the Games, and the media as well, have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2013 World Athlete of the Year, who was making his competitive debut for the year, and he didn’t disappoint.
The Olympic and world 100m champion anchored the Jamaican quartet to victory in their 4x100m heat in 38.99 to safely qualify for Saturday’s final. The fastest qualifiers were Trinidad and Tobago who clocked 38.33.
Afterwards, Bolt said: "We told each other just to get it (the baton) round and not to stress too much about this one."
With the temperature a little more to their liking, Australian athletes also thrived, taking three gold medals on a memorable night for the nation.
Dani Samuels won her first major title since winning gold at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.
The hot favourite coming in after an impressive season, she stamped her authority right from the first round with a 62.30m throw and extended her advantage with the gold-medal winning throw of 64.88m in the third round. S
Silver went to India’s Seema Punia with 61.61m and bronze to Jade Lally of England with 60.48m. “I’m so happy that I have won my first Commonwealth Games gold medal.” said Samuels who won bronze in 2006 aged 17.
“Something I have been working on this year is consistency and that’s really important coming into championships. It’s nice to feel confident going out there because I have had a few years where I haven’t felt that confident.”
Patterson adds Commonwealth title to global gold
Eleanor Patterson, just 18, gambled on missing last week’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene and it proved to be a good decision as she added Commonwealth Games gold to the IAAF World Youth title she won last year in the women’s high jump.
Despite her tender years, the teenager showed tremendous composure and her clearance of 1.94m was good enough for gold.
“It’s so much bigger than what I have experienced before. But I had to stay calm and managed to pull through. To do this is so surreal,” said Patterson. Second place went to England’s Isobel Pooley with 1.92m, ahead of St Lucia’s Lavern Spencer of St Lucia who cleared the same height, but lost out on countback and had to settle for her second successive bronze medal.
Rounding off a superb night for Australia, London 2012 Olympic Games champion Sally Pearson added another title to her stellar collection by defending the Commonwealth 100m hurdles crown she won four year ago.
Pearson came under a some early pressure from England’s Tiffany Porter but eventually moved clear to win in 12.67.
Porter logged 12.80 for silver and bronze went to Angela Whyte, of Canada in 13.02.
Kenya cleans up in the steeplechase
For an incredible fifth successive Commonwealth Games, Kenya swept the medals in the men’s 3000msteeplechase.
They were led by former world junior Champion Jonathan Ndiku, upsetting the formbook to take his first senior championship ahead of Jairus Birech and 2012 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi. Ndiku and Birech led an early break, which Kemboi had to run down, and in the last lap he paid the price. Ndiku burst clear with 200 metres left, striding home in a new Games record of 8:10.44 from Birech who was 2.24 adrift while Kemboi who jogged home in 8:19.73.
There was another golden moment for Kenya in the women’s 800m.
Eunice Sum looked every inch the world champion she is, controlling the race from the front and winning clearly in 2:00.31.
The crowd roared home Scotland’s Lynsey Sharp to silver in 2:01.43 just 0.04 ahead of bronze medallist Winnie Nanyondo, of Uganda. Kenyan athletes were again prominent in the men’s 10,000m, but on this occasion the result didn’t quite go their way.
Canada’s Cam Levins led into the final straight but was just edged out in the final run-in by Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro on his inside and Kenya’s Josphat Bett on his outside. In the photo finish, Kipsiro was given the verdict in 27:56.11, successfully defending his title from four years ago.
Former World Junior Champion Bett was just 0.03 behind and Levins just 0.09 further adrift, a narrower winning margin than the men’s 100m!
“I was not expecting it.” admitted Kipsiro. “I’ve been having a lot problems with my knee all year but something was telling me inside ‘you can do it, you can do it.’ And I kept believing.”
Lewis wins first major title
England’s Steve Lewis won his first international title in the men’s pole vault. It completing a set of Commonwealth Games medals after he won bronze in Melbourne in 2006 and silver in Delhi in 2010, although it was a close-run thing. Both Lewis and England team-mate Luke Cutts failed three times at 5.60m and they were forced into a jump off.
Cutts couldn’t clear 5.55m for the second time, but Lewis succeeded to clinch the gold medal.
“I think I definitely had the upper hand being second in the order.” said Lewis, in reference to the jump off. “I’m just so happy I pulled this off and I can look forward to Rio now.”
In the men’s javelin qualifiers, Trinidad and Tobago 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott put behind him some erratic performances since his London win and unleashed a national record of 85.28m in the first round to show he means business ahead of Saturday’s final.
Kenya’s newly minted world junior record holder (subject to ratification) Ronald Kwemoi headed the qualifiers for Sunday’s men’s 1500m final, winning his semi-final in 3:39:90.
In the women’s 4x100m, Jamaica were anchored by Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as they led the qualifiers with 42.44.
Anchored by world champion Christine Ohuruogu, who only competing in the relay at these championships, England were the fastest qualifiers from the women’s 4x400m semi-finals with 3:27.88. England also led the qualifiers from the men’s 4x400m semis with 3:03.01.
Chris Broadbent for the IAAF