As expected, world swimming powerhouse Australia enjoyed a dominating evening in the pool in the first medal session of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games swimming.
Elijah Winnington led a one-two-three in the men’s 400m freestyle, taking the gold in a time of three minutes, 43.06 seconds, more than two seconds ahead of compatriot Sam Short, while Mack Horton claimed bronze a further three seconds adrift.
Winnington admitted he was always looking to improve, saying: “When I have a bit more work behind me, that last 100 will be a lot faster and that’s where I’ll drop that significant time.
“I have got something to chase – I may be number one but I am always striving for better.”
Australia followed that up with another clean sweep in the women’s 200m freestyle.
Ariarne Titmus set a Commonwealth Games record of 1:53.89 to win gold, just 0.12 seconds clear of Mollie O’Callaghan with Madison Wilson taking bronze.
In the same discipline, Titmus left Gold Coast in 2018 with silver but was delighted to go one better this time, saying: “The Gold Coast was a great stepping stone for me to race on the international stage, so I think the 200 at the Gold Coast was a learning experience.
“It’s good to finally have the 200 now, so I’m happy to get this one.”
In between, 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh set a Games record of her own to win gold in the 400m individual medley, coming home in a time of 4:29.01.
Australian Kiah Melverton took silver and Scotland’s Katie Shanahan bronze.
McIntosh was buoyed by the crowd and targeted room for improvement, saying after the race: “I got a lot of buzz off the crowd, seeing all of the people out there.
“I was excited to re-do my time from worlds and see what I can do to get better.
“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff in training so I can execute my 400m IM [individual medley] better than I did at worlds, because I had so much room for improvement – and I still do.”
New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe claimed her fifth Commonwealth Games gold with victory in the women’s 100m freestyle S9 and she was delighted to win after coronavirus set her back in her preparation.
She said: “It wasn’t my best performance physically. I was on fine form leading in to it until Covid hit me.
“You’ve got to take that on the chin and just get through it and that’s what I did and I still ended up with the result I wanted.”
The medals continued to come for Australia as Timothy Hodge knocked three seconds off the Games record with gold in the men’s 100m backstroke S9.
Hodge finished ahead of Jesse Reynolds of New Zealand and bronze medal winner Barry McClements as Northern Ireland claimed their first-ever medal in the pool.
Hodge said: “It feels great, our goals this year were to put in some good performances and good times and thankfully medals followed.
“(Breaking the record was the) icing on the cake. I go in this in the hope of a good performance and to come away with a Games record with a margin like that it’s just proven that everything I have been doing so far has been right. It’s exhilarating.”
Source: Birmingham 2022
View the Pacific medal tally on The Pacific Advocate homepage HERE.
View the entire 2022 Commonwealth Games medal tally HERE.