Published Thursday 31 July 2014

With four days of competition remaining, New Zealand has already equalled its medal haul from four years ago in Delhi, after another hugely successful day in Glasgow.

Valerie Adams headlined the day with her third consecutive Commonwealth Games shot put gold medal, but there were also two wrestling and two weightlifting medals. That took New Zealand’s medal haul to 36, with several more athletes and teams guaranteed of a medal.

New Zealand is fifth on the medal table.

ATHLETICS

Valerie Adams was well below her best, but still won the women’s shot put gold medal with a bit to spare at Hampden Park Stadium.

Adams, 29, entered the event an overwhelming favourite, with two Olympic gold medals, four world titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals already behind her.

She has not been beaten in four years and 54 meets and the 44,000 spectators in attendance knew they were there not so much to watch a contest as to acknowledge one of the all-time athletics greats.

In the final she began with 19.88m and was never headed. However, it wasn’t a great sequence by her standards – her other efforts were 19.58m, foul, 19.76m, 19.79m.

Even though she was the best part of 1.5 metres below her personal best, Adams still won by more than a metre.

The silver medal went to Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel with 18.57m and the bronze to Canada’s Julie Labonte with 17.58m.

In taking out the gold, Adams won New Zealand’s 600th medal at a Commonwealth Games, dating back to the first, Billy Savidan’s gold medal in the six miles at Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930.

Nikki Hamblin did extremely well to bounce back from her tough 1500m final the previous evening and qualify for the semi-finals of the 800m.

Running in the fourth 800m heat, Hamblin finished fourth in 2min 03.32s and had a nervous wait to see if she had qualified. Only the first three place-getters went through automatically, plus the four fastest losers. As it transpired, she got there with half a second to spare.

The other New Zealander in the 800m heats, Angie Smit, finished fifth in the swift third heat, with a time of 2min 03.28s and also progressed as a fastest loser.

Sarah Crowley moved into the women’s high jump final by clearing 1.85m. She had moments of concern along the way, however. After clearing 1.71m and 1.76m at her first attempt, she had two misses at 1.81m and was facing an early exit. However, she made the jump at her final attempt, and then cleared 1.85m first time for good measure.

 

NETBALL

The New Zealand netballers won their pool by beating Jamaica 50-42 in a testing encounter. It meant they remained unbeaten.

For New Zealand, it was a particularly notable effort because their two main shooters, Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia were forced to sit out the game nursing injuries.

After leading 14-11 at quarter-time, New Zealand found themselves trailing 24-23 at halftime. The Jamaicans looked dynamic and confident and there were some furrowed brows among New Zealand supporters.

Coach Waimarama Taumaunu elected to stick with the seven she started the game with, and her decision paid off with a solid second half effort.

New Zealand reclaimed the lead at 26-25 and led 35-33 at three-quarter-time. By the end, the New Zealand team looked in charge and Jamaica were well beaten.

Young goal attack Ellen Halpenny took a while to settle, but in the second half she showed good instincts and raised her game. Jodi Brown did a lot of work at goal shoot and shot 29 goals from 41 attempts, a 71 per cent success ratio.

The individual star for New Zealand was spring-heeled captain Casey Kopua, who fared well even against the formidable 1.95m (6ft 5in) Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Reid. Though Reid’s statistics were impressive, with 35 goals from 39 attempts, it was noticeable that Kopua and goal keep Leana de Bruin gradually wore her down.

In addition, Kopua pulled off several morale-boosting intercepts when the Jamaicans looked threatening.

“It was a tough, physical battle,” Kopua said afterwards. “We got more belief and confidence as the game went on. Browny [Jodi Brown] was a rock for us.”

Taumaunu seemed pleased to have got through the game without her two big-name shooters.

“We’re taking their injuries day by day and hope to have one of them playing by Saturday.”

She said she was pleased with how Halpenny responded to the big occasion.

“I gave her the first quarter to settle down and she did. By the end her nous and understanding were coming through.”

New Zealand next play England in a semi-final on Saturday.

 

DIVING

Liam Stone qualified for the men’s 1-metre springboard diving, though it wasn’t an especially testing task. There were 14 in qualifying with 12 to progress to the final.

The 17-year-old Aucklander had dives of 60.45, 50.50, 45.00, 62.40, 51.00, 71.40 for a total of 333.80 – in sixth qualifying position. The leading qualifier was Englishman Jack Laugher, who was very impressive in amassing 433.50 points.

In the final, Stone finished seventh with 382.10. As expected, Laugher won by a vast margin, with 449.9 points.

Stone’s series was 65.10, 59.80, 67.50, 59.20, 54.00, 76.50.

 

BOWLS

New Zealand is still in the hunt for three gold medals in the bowls competition.

In the open triples, Lynda Bennett, Barry Wynks and Mark Noble play South Africa for the gold tomorrow. They won their semi-final today against Scotland 13-9.

Val Smith and Jo Edwards beat Fijians Elizabeth Moceiwai and Salanieta Gukivuli 16-9 in the women’s pairs. But they then had to battle hard to get past Jersey’s Katie Nixon and Lindsey Greechan 18-13. The New Zealand pair pulled away only over the final few ends, after it had been 11-11 going into the 14th end. The New Zealanders are now in the women’s quarter-finals.

Shannon McIlroy completed section play in the men’s singles today. He had a thrilling 21-20 win over Norfolk Island’s John Christian. The New Zealander never led at any point and after nine ends was down 11-3. Going into the final end he was 20-18 to Christian, but McIlroy took the head with three shots to give him the narrow victory. In the afternoon he went down 21-19 to Malcolm de Sousa of Jersey 21-19, but he had by then already qualified for tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

The women’s triple of Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy and Mandy Boyd beat Canada 23-12, but then dipped out in their quarter-final to Wales 14-13. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff, with the scores tied at 12-12 and then 13-13 until Wales took one on the extra end.

The hopes of the men’s four – Tony Grantham, Blake Signal, Richard Girvan and Ali Forsyth - faded when they lost 16-9 to Australia.

 

BOXING

Men’s heavyweight boxer David Light guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal when he comprehensively outpointed Kenyan Charles Okoth. The 22-year-old Aucklander won all three rounds on all three judges’ cards.

There wasn’t such good news in the men’s welterweight section, where Bowyn Morgan lost a split decision in his quarter-final against Scott Fitzgerald of England. Morgan narrowly lost the first two rounds and won the third.

Women’s middleweight Magan Maka found Canadian Ariane Fortin too difficult a proposition and went down in a unanimous points decision.

 

TABLE TENNIS

Three New Zealand entries - two in the women’s singles and one in the mixed doubles - remain in contention going into the business end of the championships.

Veteran Peter Jackson had a busy time of it today. The 49-year-old, who now lives in France, had three matches within two hours.

He started by combining with Yang Sun in a testing mixed doubles match against the Welsh pairing of Daniel O’Connell and Chloe Thomas. The New Zealanders won 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7.

Jackson and Sun were back in action shortly afterwards to face the crack Australian pairing of Miao Miao and Bill Henzell. Though the New Zealanders went down 12-10, 11-9, 11-4, it was a surprisingly close match.

Then it was time for Jackson to turn his attention to doubles. He and John Cordue quickly beat Barbados’ Trevor and Kevin Farley 11-3, 11-5, 11-6. In their second match of the day they lost to Paul McGreery and Ashley Robinson of Northern Ireland 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 11-9.

In the men’s doubles, Phillip Xiao and Tengteng Liu went down in a see-sawing contest to the Scottish pair of Sean Docherty and Niall Cameron 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 14-14.

In the mixed doubles, Liu and Karen Li were too good for Jersey’s Josh Band and Kelsey le Maistre, winning 11-8, 11-8, 11-6. Later they battled past Indians Manika Batra and Sanil Shetty 11-6, 1-12, 11-8, an exceptionally good performance by the New Zealanders.

The New Zealand mixed doubles pairing of Cordue and Annie Yang lost a topsy-turvy match to Guyanans Paul David and Trenace Lowe 10-12, 11-4, 11-13, 11-4, 11-8.

In another mixed doubles match Phillip Xiao and Jenny Hung beat Ghana’s Felix Lartey and Cynthia Kwabi 6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4. However, they were eliminated when they went down to Canadians Andre Ho and Anqu Luo 13-11, 11-5, 11-6.

In the women’s singles, Annie Yang had little trouble with Dawn Morgan of Guernsey, winning 11-7, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6. She was then beaten by the eighth seed, Manika Batu of India, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6.

Leading New Zealand woman Li Chunli, the seventh seed, began her singles campaign with a 11-2, 11-3, 11-4, 12-10 win over Amanda Mogey of Northern Ireland.

Karen Li, the 15th seed, remained in singles contention when she beat Ho Ying of Malaysia 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5.

The women’s doubles begins today.

 

SQUASH

All but one of the New Zealand combinations have qualified for post-section play.

In the men’s doubles, the top pairing of Campbell Grayson and Martin Knight had already qualified for the round of 16.

The other men’s doubles team of Paul Coll and Lance Beddoes dealt comfortably with Sri Lankans Gihan Suwaris and Dilshan Gunawardenda 11-8, 11-0 to cement their position in the last 16. Unfortunately, the two New Zealand teams have been drawn to meet each.

In the women’s doubles, sixth seeds Joelle King and Amanda Landers-Murphy struck quality opposition in third-seeded Englishwomen Alison Waters and Emma Beddoes and lost 11-8, 2-11, 11-8. However, they still progressed to the last eight. They needed to beat Scots Alex Clark and Frania Gillen-Buchert and duly did so 11-6, 11-2.

The second New Zealand women’s doubles combination of Megan Craig and Kylie Lindsay beat Sri Lankans Nadindhi Udangawa and Mihiliya Methsarani 11-4, 11-1. However, they went down to the Indian team of Dipka Pallikal and Joshana Chinappa 11-5, 11-4 and were eliminated.

In the mixed doubles, both New Zealand teams progressed to the final 16. Martin Knight and Joelle King, the second seeds and silver medallists from Delhi for years ago, turned on a really top display to beat Scots Kevin Moran and Alex Clark 11-3, 11-3.

Paul Coll and Amanda Landers-Murphy went down to the Indian team of Chinappa and Harinder Sandhu 11-8,11-10, but still progressed to post-section play.

 

BADMINTON

New Zealand had mixed fortunes at the badminton.

In the mixed doubles, Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis went down the strong Malaysian team of Jing Pei and PS Chan 21-11, 18-21, 21-13. However, Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and Madeleine Stapleton beat Diana Archer and Emanuel Donkor of Ghana 21-16, 21-16.

In the men’s singles, Sri Lankan Dinuka Karunaratna was too good for Michael Fowke, beating him 21-9, 21-18.

Anna Rankin beat the Isle of Man’s Cristen Marritt in the women’s singles, winning 21-14, 21-11. Michelle Chan repeated the effort, beating Sri Lankan Achini Rathnasiri 17-21, 21-7, 21-12

In men’s doubles, Dennerly-Minturn and Oliver Leydon-Davis beat Edwin Ekiring and Wilson Tukire of Uganda 21-10, 21-7. In women’s doubles, Rankin and Stapleton beat Stella Amash and Evelyn Botwe of Ghana 21-10, 21-3.

 

HOCKEY

The New Zealand women’s hockey team cemented top spot in their pool by demolishing Canada 6-0. They have earned themselves a semi-final match against the improving England team on Friday.

It didn’t take long for New Zealand to assert themselves. Anita Punt slotted home a goal after just 38 seconds.

After that it was one-way traffic. Petrea Webster and Krystal Forgesson added further goals in the first half to make it 3-0 at the break.

Early in the second half, New Zealand captain Kayla Whitelock scored an outrageous goal. She was almost on the baseline and lifted the ball towards the goal, looking to pass to a team-mate. Instead the ball found its way into the net, from an angle that would have defied most mathematicians.

There were also second goals for Forgesson – she has been a real goal machine in this tournament – and Punt.

Afterwards New Zealand coach Mark Hager was understandably pleased with how his team had played.

“I liked how consistent we were all the way through,” he said. “We created lots of opportunities and actually we could have scored even more goals.”

Hager warned that England would not be an easy proposition in the semi-finals.

“We’ll have our work cut out. They’ve been improving throughout this competition.”

 

WRESTLING

Tayla Ford and Sam Belkin won bronze medals.

Ford, who has just turned 21, wrestled in the freestyle 58kg category.

In her first bout she had to battle hard to get past Australian Carissa Holland 4-2. She achieved her victory by a fall.

A few minutes later she was back on the mat for her semi-final against Nigerian Aminat Adeniyi. Ford was hard-pressed, but kept the bout competitive, though she went down 4-1.

In her bronze medal bout, the Cantabrian faced Englishwoman Sarah Grundy, a multi-British champion.

Ford made no race of it and achieved victory by a fall, for a 4-0 margin.

Belkin, 26, took bronze in the 97kg freestyle division.

He, too, is based in Christchurch. He was born in England, but his family immigrated to New Zealand when he was 12.

Belkin was initially a Greco Roman wrestler, but switched to freestyle in 2012 when he learned there would be no Greco Roman wrestling at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The move paid off for him today.

He began with a good win over Bangladeshi Billal Hosen, winning with a fall.

Next up he struggled against Canadian Arjun Gill, who was too good, though Belkin showed flashes of class. Gill later went on to win the gold medal.

To earn his bronze, Belkin had to get past Northern Ireland’s Hugh McCloskey. The result was never in doubt and Belkin was award victory by ST – great superiority, a difference of 10 points with the loser scoring no points.

The other New Zealand wrestler in action was Soukanah Thongsinh in the 61kg division.

He began well with a clear victory over Welshman Damion Arzu. However, he came unstuck in his quarter-final bout against Nigerian Amas, being clearly outclassed.

 

WEIGHTLIFTING

Aucklander Tracey Lambrechs grabbed a bronze medal in the women’s 75kg-plus category.

Lambrechs fought back in the clean and jerk section after being only in fifth place when the snatch section of the competition was completed.

She achieved 97kg and 101kg in the snatch, and missed at 103kg.

In the clean and jerk she was excellent, lifting 129kg, 132kg and 136kg. The final lift, a massive effort, pushed her ahead of Australian Deborah Acason.

It was really a contest of two parts. Way out in front were Nigerian Maryam Usman, who won with a total of 2809kg, followed by Samoan Ele Opeloge, 271kg.

The rest of the field was fighting for the bronze and it was the gritty and determined Lambrechs who came through. The result marks an improvement for Lambrechs, who was fifth in the Delhi Commonwealth Games four years ago.

The bronze medal adds further to Lambrechs’ sports CV. Her sister, Chantal, has represented New Zealand at weightlifting. Tracey has also played netball to senior representative level and competed in international athletics.

She was born in South Africa and her family moved to New Zealand in 1999, when she was 14.

Heavyweight weightlifter Stan Chalaev made it two weightlifting medals in a day when he won his second consecutive Commonwealth Games silver medal after an exciting contest in the Clyde Auditorium.

Chalaev, 27, lifted a total of 341kg, compared to the winner, Kiribati man David Katoatau’s 348kg.

The New Zealand snatched 150kg and 155kg, and then missed at 158kg.

In the clean and jerk, he managed 183kg and 186kg, but missed at 191kg.

Chalaev captured the hearts of sports fans when he dedicated his medal in Delhi four years ago to his recently deceased mother and carried her photo onto the podium.

In Glasgow he was composed throughout the contest and seemed to thrive on the competition.

“I’m very happy,” he said afterwards. “I wanted to win a medal for my team and my country, and I’m proud that I did it.”

He felt the standard was higher at these games and said he thrived on the competitions in which there is only a few kilograms between lifters and each kilogram can make a crucial difference.

 

GYMNASTICS

In the men’s all round, Mikhail Koudinov finished eighth, Kristofer Done 10th and David Bishop 12th.

Koudinov’s scores: floor – 8.400; pommel horse – 8.100; rings – 7.933; vault 8.266; parallel bars 8.266; uneven bars – 6.866. Total: 81.731.

Done’s scores: floor – 7.266; pommel horse – 7.166; rings – 8.433; vault – 9.233; parallel bars – 8.800; uneven bars: 8.300. Total: 79.798.

Bishop’s scores: floor – 7.633; pommel horse – 8.066; rings – 8.066; vault – 9.325; uneven bars – 9.600; parallel bars – 8.366. Total: 79.256.

The winning score was Englishman Max Whitelock’s 90.631.

In the women’s all-round, England’s Claudia Fragapane won with 56.132 points.

The leading New Zealander was Brittany Robertson, whose 50.682 points placed her 12th. Charlotte Sullivan was 16th with 49.098 points.