New Zealand had another memorable day at the Commonwealth Games, picking up three gold medals and a silver. That means New Zealand has already won 31 medals, a most impressive return.
Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze did New Zealand proud when they won gold and silver in the men’s mountain bike cross-country race.
Cooper beat Gaze by three seconds in a barnstorming finish. It was New Zealand’s first gold-silver scoop of the Commonwealth Games, and the first since road cyclists Brian Fowler and Mark Rendell in 1994.
Cooper, who turns 20 next month, was never out of the top three and when he came through over the final few kilometres of the testing Cathkin Braes course, he was too strong for all challengers.
The 20-year-old Cantabrian won in 1h 38min 26s, just three seconds ahead of countryman Gaze.
Gaze, only 18, was also always near the front and rode well near the end to hold out Australian Daniel McConnell, the pre-race favourite, for the silver medal.
There were 33 starters, including some of the big names of world mountain biking.
Cooper said he and Gaze had not worked together during the race.
“I knew I had to catch him off guard,” Cooper said. “I like to have a lead. You get bloody nervous when there's four riders [in the front bunch]."
He said it was great to share the podium with a Kiwi.
Cooper, a former junior world champion, said it was not an easy race. “Saying that, I felt quite fresh through the whole race. I knew that I had fresh legs. I felt like I could go another lap.
"I conserved energy by drafting. It was pretty hard coming down to the last lap, but I pushed right through to the finish line.
"I tried to pull away, but they didn't let me. They had a good punch in them."
In the women’s race, New Zealanders Karen Hanlen and Kate Fluker were sixth and eighth in a field of 21.
The race was won by Canadian Catharine Pendrel in 1h 39min 29s. Hanlen recorded 1h 43min 31s and Fluker 1h 44min 56s.
Auckland swimmer Lauren Boyle bounced back from last night’s disappointment to win the women’s 400m freestyle gold medal.
And, making the last evening of the swimming even more special, para-swimmer Sophie Pascoe picked up her second gold medal when she easily won the women’s 200m individual medley.
Boyle, the fastest qualifier, lagged behind for 150 metres, but once she made her move, she was very impressive.
By 200 metres she was in front and she pulled away remorselessly. Her time, 4min 04.47s, was a Games record. As a bonus, Boyle pushed into second place Jazz Carlin, the Welsh woman who pipped her for the 800m freestyle gold medal last night. Carlin finished in 4min 05.16s.
Boyle’s winning time was about half a second slower than she swam when winning a bronze medal in the same event at last year’s world championships. She qualified for the final in Glasgow with a time of 4 min 07.06s.
"It was a really proud moment for me," said Boyle. "I haven't had the New Zealand national anthem at a really major competition before and I think it's really nice for the New Zealanders to hear it on the last day."
Pascoe, a Paralympics hero in 2008 and 2012, was far too good for the rest of the five-woman field and won in 2min 27.74s, giving her a margin of more than four seconds over second place. In her heat, she had qualified with 2min 30.12s.
The New Zealand 4 x 100m medley relay team of Corey Main, Glenn Snyders, Steve Kent and Matthew Stanley were fifth in 3min 36.80s after finishing second in their morning heat in a time of 3min 39.39s. The final was won by England in 3min 31.51s.
In the men’s 200m individual medley, Mitchell Donaldson was not far off making the final. He was clocked at 2min 01.32s and was 10th fastest, missing a place in the final by 0.35s.
Nickki Hamblin ran a brave race for fifth place in the women’s 1500m final.
The first two laps were so slow – 1min 10.9 and 1min 08s – that the field remained bunched until the final bend.
Hamblin positioned herself as well as she could, but when the pace went on with 200 metres to go, she found herself slightly boxed and lost several places.
She finished full of fight, as always, and grabbed fifth place in 4min 10.77s. The race was won by Kenyan Faith Kibiegon in 4min 08.94s.
At one point there was a wall of three Kenyan runners at the font, until Englishwoman Laura Weightman broke them up.
While disappointed not to get among the medals, Hamblin felt she had done most things right. “I might have made a slight mistake on the final bend. I don’t know if it cost me a medal or not,” she said.
Hamblin doesn’t have much time to dwell on the race because the heats of the 800m are at midday tomorrow.
“It’s a quick turnaround, and the 800m field is very strong. But I’m excited to be here and looking forward to running in another big race,” she said.
The two New Zealand decathletes were unable to complete their competition.
Scott McLaren withdrew yesterday after four events and today Brent Newdick, 11th overnight, pulled out before the ninth event, the pole vault, suffering from an injury he incurred in the high jump yesterday. Today Newdick recorded 15.47s for the 100m hurdles and threw the discus 42.58s.
Marcus Carney fought his way to a medal bout in the men’s 125kg freestyle wrestling.
In his first bout, the 26-year-old Aucklander beat Sri Lankan Kalum Moraandage with a decisive 4-0 victory.
However, Carney went down 4-1 in his semi-final, outmanoeuvred by Indian Rajeev Tomar.
In his bronze medal bout, the New Zealander lost decisively to Nigerian Sinivie Boltic.
Coach Waimarama Taumaunu took the opportunity of an easier match against Saint Lucia to give her frontline shooters a break.
Liana Leota stepped in as a converted goal attack and had three quarters at goal attack and played well, not only contributing 19 goals, but also driving through the court effectively. Jodi Brown played a full game, three of the quarters at goal shoot, the last at goal attack. She scored 54 goals from 66 attempts, an 82 per cent ratio. Ellen Halpenny, injured earlier in the week, managed the final quarter and scored 15 goals.
Key shooters Maria Tutaia and Cathrine Latu, both carrying injuries, had a day off. Tutaia has an injured foot and Latu a calf strain. No doubt their services will be required shortly, possibly tomorrow morning against Jamaica in the final pool match.
New Zealand were never stretched at any stages, leading 20-5 after 15 minutes and 44-11 at halftime, before running out 88-19 winners.
The individual events got under way today.
In the men’s singles, Joe Wu went down to Sri Lankan Buwenaka Dullewa 23-21, 21-17 in a strength-sapping 37-minute encounter.
In the mixed doubles, Kevin Dennerly-Minturn and Madeleine Stapleton brushed aside Falkland Islanders Dominic Jaffray and Louise Williams 21-9, 21-2.
The New Zealand men scored their third consecutive win with a hard-fought 2-1 win over England. After a tight, goalless first half, New Zealand were happy to have held the score to 0-0. They defended for long periods and deserved credit for their application. The New Zealanders grabbed the lead in the 51st minute with a penalty stroke to Andy Hayward. The English came back eight minutes later with a goal to equalise at 1-1.
It seemed as if the match would end in a draw, but two minutes from the end, Simon Child latched on to a rebound after a penalty corner and scored the winner.
The result means that New Zealand are now a good bet to top their group. They play Malaysia on Thursday and if they win that they would probably avoid the strong Australian team in the semi-finals.
Shannon McIlroy continued his unbeaten run in the men’s singles, easing past Peter June of Papua New Guinea. McIlroy began fast and led 9-3 after seven ends. June played some good bowls after that, but McIlroy had things in hand and won 21-13. In his afternoon match he beat Malta’s Leonard Callus 21-2.
In the women’s triples Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy and Mandy Boyd outplayed Zambia 22-10. Later they beat Fiji 21-11.
The big-name women’s pair of Jo Edwards and Val Smith suffered an early glitch against Tania Choudhury and Pinki of India and trailed 7-1 after four ends. But after they steadied the ship they ran out comfortable winners 24-11.
In the open triples, Lynda Bennett, Barry Wynks and Mark Noble scored one on the final end to draw 10-10 with South Africa.
The other New Zealand team in action was the men’s four of Tony Grantham, Blake Signal, Richard Girvan and Ali Forsyth, who lost to Papua New Guinea 16-12.
Bailey Rogers finished seventh women’s 75kg division. She totalled 175kg, some distance behind winner Marie-Eve Beauchemin-Nadeau of Canada, who registered 250kg.
Rogers began poorly and missed her first two snatch attempts at 75kg, before achieving the weight at her third attempt. In the clean and jerk she got 100kg first up, but then missed at 105kg and 106kg.
New Zealanders fared well when the individual competitions began in the table tennis.
Annie Yang got past her first opponent, Stella Grant of Sierra Leone, 11-1, 11-1, 11-4, 11-2 with no problems, but it was a different story in her second round. She struck a tough player in Emma Ludlow of Northern Ireland and was mighty relieved to finally get there 11-8, 9-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 after 38 minutes.
In the men’s singles, Tengteng Liu beat Papua New Guinea’s Gasika Sepa Simoi 11-3, 11-2, 11-1, 11-4. He was similarly untroubled to win his next match, against the Maldives’ Mohamed Naseem, 11-2, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3.
In another first-round singles, Phillip Xiao was too good for Zambian Noel Kasanda, winning 11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3. In his second match, Xiao finished strongly to beat accomplished Ugandan Kevin Mafabi 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6, 11-5.
Myles Browne-Cole found it tough going in the men’s trap qualifying and ended up 15th with a total of 106, well behind top qualifier, Michael Diamond of Australia. Browne-Cole had rounds of 22, 22, 20, 23, and 19.
John Snowden and Mike Collings struggled in the Queen’s Prize individual final. Snowden had a disappointing final round and finished with a total of 383, in 18th spot. His scores were 34, 35, 33, 49, 50, 50, 71, and 61.
Collings totalled 378 for 20th. His scores were 35, 33, 31, 48, 50, 50, 71, 60.
Yesterday’s gold medallist, Sally Johnston, was unable to repeat the performance in the women’s 50m rifle 3-position. In qualifying, Johnston had rounds of 91, 94, 98, 97, 91, 79 for a total of 550 and 27th place.
The other New Zealander in the field, Jenna MacKenzie, fared much better, shooting 94, 91, 99, 97, 94, 93 for 568 and eighth place. In the final MacKenzie further improved to seventh overall, with a total of 385.6, well behind the winner, Singapore’s Jasmine Ser.
Martin Knight had a dream start when the doubles competitions got under way.
In the mixed doubles Knight and Joelle King, the silver medallists at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, took the first two games from Nick and Sarah Taylor of Jersey 11-0, 11-0.
And in the men’s doubles, Knight and Campbell Grayson beat Sierra Leone’s James Fayia and Issa Kamara 11-0, 11-0. That meant that after two matches, Knight had not lost a rally!
Later Knight and Grayson beat the Bermuda pair of Micah Franklin and Nick Kyme 11-5, 11-3.
In another men’s doubles match, Lance Beddoes and Paul Coll, who showed impressive form in some of the warm-up camps, beat Norfolk Island’s Mitchell Graham and Duncan Gray 11-3, 11-1. In their second match, Beddoes and Coll had a good win over Australians Ryan Cuskelly and Matthew Karwalski 11-5, 11-8.
Coll and Amanda Landers-Murphy had a comfortable first-up victory over Schubert Maketu and Eli Webb of Papua New Guinea 11-2, 11-4.
New Zealand scored one win from two matches in the women’s doubles. Megan Craig and Kylie Lindsay ran into world No 1 Nicole David and her Malaysian compatriot Wee Wern Low and went down 7-11, 11-10, 11-6, after holding match point in the second game.
Joelle King and Amanda Landers-Murphy had no such problems with the Papua New Guinea team of Shila Moore and Dorothy Boyce, winning 11-3, 11-3.
It was not a good day for New Zealand in the ring. Alexis Pritchard suffered a surprising first-round defeat in the women’s lightweight division, going down in a unanimous points decision to Dominica’s Vaierian Spicer.
It seemed the taller Pritchard would prevail. She used her height well and won the first two rounds, but thereafter allowed Spicer to get in close and throw some strong punches to the head and body. Spicer won the last two rounds on all three judges’ cards.
Men’s light-welterweight Leroy Hindley lost on points to Junias Jonas of Namibia.
In the lightweight division, Chad Milnes was outboxed by Welshman Joseph Cordina and lost on points.
Light-heavyweight David Nyika brought some cheer to the New Zealand camp scored a unanimous points win over Sumit Sangwan of India. Nyika lost the first round, but came back well to claim the decision.
The New Zealand men’s team of David Bishop, Kristofer Done, Mikhail Koudinov, Reid McGowan and Matthew Palmer finished sixth in the teams event with 197.636 points. England won with 222.205 points.
New Zealand scored 39.724 in the floor, 38.182 in the pommel horse, 41.333 in the rings, 41.015 in the vault, 41.532 in the parallel bars and 38.065 in the horizontal bars.
The leading all-round gymnast was Max Whitlock of England with 90.365 points.
The New Zealanders’ performances were:
David Bishop: floor – 14.366; horse – 12.533; rings – 12.933; vault – 13.816; parallel bars – 13.033; horizontal bars – 12.066. Total: 78.474.
Kristofer Done: floor – 12.100; horse – 12.566; rings – 13.300; vault – 13.633; parallel bars – 13.933; horizontal bars – 12.866. Total: 78.398.
Mikhail Koudinov: floor – 13.258; horse – 13.083; rings – 13.333; vault – 13.366; parallel bars – 13.566; horizontal bars – 10.333. Total: 76.939.
Matthew Palmer: floor – 11.933; rings – 14.500; vault – 13.566.
Reid McGowan: horse – 11.033; parallel bars – 12.900; horizontal bars – 13.133.