Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – England’s sprinters put Jamaica in the shade and Saint Lucia celebrated their first-ever gold medal as the Commonwealth Games came to a head on Saturday.
On a busy final day of full competition, a farmer’s son became India’s first javelin champion as Saint Lucia’s Levern Spencer made history in the high jump.
Spencer, twice a bronze-medallist, leapt 1.95 metre to win a battle with England’s Morgan Lake and finally bring gold to the tiny Caribbean island — 56 years after their Games debut.
“It’s a really good feeling and I am happy I’m the one making history for my country,” said the 33-year-old, competing at her fifth Commonwealth Games.
“In the last two editions of the Commonwealth Games I got bronze so I was determined to work hard this time to win gold.”
England shot to 4x100m relay double, impressing the watching Usain Bolt so much the towering Jamaican tweeted that he was having second thoughts about his retirement.
“They need him to beat us now! Last time in Glasgow we gave the baton ahead of him and they can’t handle us without him,” English anchor Harry Aikines-Aryeetey fired back.
Neeraj Chopra, 20, hurled 86.47m to win the men’s javelin, becoming only the third Indian man to claim athletics gold at the Commonwealths.
“I don’t remember which throw it was. I tried to get my personal best but I got my season best,” he said, after falling just one centimetre short of his best throw ever.
– Skye high –
With 17 gold medals available before the closing ceremony on Sunday, Australia are the runaway leaders with 75, ahead of England’s 42 and India’s 25, on the medals table, which combines able-bodied and para events.
It was a red-letter day for India, after Manika Batra became the country’s first women’s singles table tennis champion by stunning Singapore’s Yu Mengyu in the final.
“My aim was to win a gold medal for India and I did it!” beamed Batra. “Here at the Commonwealth Games it is the best table tennis I have ever played.”
Sanjeev Rajput claimed India’s seventh shooting victory, and Sumit Malik and Vinesh Phogat made it five gold medals for the country in wrestling.
Five-time world amateur champion Mary Kom, immortalised in a 2014 Bollywood film, led India to a three-gold haul on a busy final day of boxing.
Australia’s Skye Nicolson dedicated her featherweight gold to her late brother, who was an Olympic and professional boxer before his death in a car crash in 1994.
Malaysia’s two-time winner Lee Chong Wei set up a men’s badminton decider against India’s K. Srikanth, a week after losing to the world number one in the mixed-team final.
India will finish with at least one more badminton gold medal on Sunday as PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal clash for the women’s title.
Elsewhere, South African diver Julia Vincent recovered from an embarrassing spill from the board to finish sixth in the three-metre springboard final.
Australia’s Chloe Hosking couldn’t contain her excitement after winning road cycling gold, dropping an F-bomb during an interview on live TV.
And Australia hammered England 99-55 in the women’s basketball final despite losing tournament top-scorer Liz Cambage, who was ejected by officials in the second quarter.