Queen of the pool Cate Campbell, Paralympic star Tim Disken and Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay girls extended Australia’s gold medal total to 11 on the third night of swimming at the Optus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast.
The Dolphins collected three gold, four silver and one bronze medal to increase their totals to 11 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze for an overall tally of 31 medals with three nights still to swim.
Campbell took just 23.78 seconds to show that she is well and truly back in the fast lane with a world class swim to win Australia’s ninth swimming gold medal at these Commonwealth Games in the 50m freestyle – her second of the Games.
Campbell’s time was a new Games record and a personal best by 0.01 and only 0.11 outside Sarah Sjostrom’s world record of 23.67 and the third fastest time behind Britta Steffan’s previous world mark of 23.73.
Sister Bronte and busy Canadian 17-year-old Taylor Ruck dead-heated for silver in 24.26.
“That was a dream come true, I had goose bumps when the crowd started chanting ‘Aussie… Aussie… Aussie’…that’s real goose bump stuff,” said Campbell, who became quite emotional during the playing of the National Anthem when the crowd sang with her, “I didn’t expect that..but when so many people are so supportive it brought tears to my eyes.”
“I didn’t expect to get so teary, I think a lot of people have supported me in the last year and a half and to stand there on the podium and the whole crowd sing the National Anthem with me was pretty special.
“I really did feel the love tonight, not just this week. You expect people to love you when you’re doing well but what really counted was through last year and the end of 2016 was where I really felt the love from people and that’s what got me so emotional.
“I think that for me, I’ve been pleased with my racing so far and being able to put together fast races and improve from heats to semis to finals, executing the races that I want to execute has been important for me.”
When asked about pressure, the 25-year-old said: “Pressure..that’s what we thrive on and that’s what I’ll miss the most when I retire from the sport…as much as you hate it you love it….it’s a real love hate relationship.”
And when sister Bronte was asked about her big sister she said: “Yeah she’s doing amazingly well. It’s great to see her come back and so well and keep smashing down barriers for herself.
“You always want to see someone improve but when you really care about the person, it’s a lot more special.
“When you see someone come back from a break and still do well, it’s encouraging. You think that when you go away, it may never come back, but seeing her do so well after injuries, it’s really encouraging.”
Australia’s second gold of the night and the 10th of the meet went to Paralympic golden boy Tim “Disco” Disken in the SB8 100m breaststroke and in another sweep – Australia’s 20th in men’s swimming in Games history.
Diskin followed up his 100m freestyle gold with a time of 1:12.42 to beat 17-year-old Tim Hodge (1:15.80) and Paralympic star Blake Cochrane (1:18.75).
Disken, who is now celebrating a perfect Commonwealth Games debut having finished his events, is not only thrilled with his own results but is proud of what the three Australians could achieve together.
“Yesterday was amazing but today has been something else. To go one, two, three in front of a home crowd is something I can’t even describe,” the Canberra-based athlete said.
This is a comeback story of the ages after Disken underwent emergency brain surgery less than one year ago, after complaining of a headache before the 2017 Canadian Open.
“It’s great to be back at my best, racing for this fantastic country. This competition and what I bounced back from shows me I can perform when I think I can’t,” Diskin said.
Silver medallist Hodge not only achieved a personal best but also won his first major international medal.
“I far exceeded my expectations. I was hoping for at least a small PB a bit better splits and better turns, but I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.
“This is a dream come true, literally. I remember racing the Berlin Championships and winning gold in the junior category and listening to the anthem there, but standing next to my teammates tonight will be something else.”
And in the final event of the evening Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay girls Emma McKeon (1:56.62) Brianna Throssell (1:57.60) Leah Neale (1:58.23) and Ariarne Titmus (1:55.59) swam away from Canada to win gold number three in a new Games record time of 7:48.04 with Canada clocking 7:49.66 for silver and England 7:55.60 for bronze.
It leaves McKeon with three gold and one bronze, Cate Campbell and Kyle Chalmers with two gold, Bronte Campbell and Ariarne Titmus one gold and one silver and Throssell, one gold and one bronze.
And in the race of the night two-time and defending champion Emily Seebohm led world record holder and reigning world champion, Canada’s Kylie Masse until the last stroke.
Seebohm led Masse by just 0.03 at the 50m mark and looked all ends up the winner until the very last stroke when Masse’s lunge at the wall saw her claim the gold by 0.03 – in a real thriller 58.63 to 58.66 with emerging Canadian, 17-year-old Taylor Ruck backing up for bronze in 58.79 in the second of her three swims.
Seebohm was happy with her time and her performance saying:” Kylie is the world record holder, to finish so close together is pretty incredible in itself and it’s just another battle, and she makes me a better backstroker. I was only .03 behind the WR holder so there’s not much more you can ask for.
“I caught the lane rope on the way back and that’s slightly frustrating but there’s not a lot you can do, but I did an amazing job tonight.
“I went so much faster than I did four years ago in Glasgow, so it goes to show how much improvement I’ve made.”
Local Gold Coaster David Morgan (1:56.76) grabbed a well deserved silver behind South African Olympic champion Chad Le Clos (1:54.00 –Games Record) in the 200m butterfly with Scotland’s Duncan Scott (1:56.60) the bronze.
Le Clos continued his march into the record books, becoming only the second male behind Mike Wenden to claim three straight Commonwealth Games gold medals.
Wenden won the 100m freestyle in 1966 in Kingston, 1970 in Cardiff and 1974 in Christchurch.
Le Clos started his butterfly dynasty in Delhi in 2010 and defended his crown in Glasgow in a new Games record time which he lowered again tonight.
Morgan was spent after the race saying:” “It wasn’t my fastest time but I’m happy with that…I had to race it the best I could and I think I did that and the crowd I have to thank the crowd, they really push you.”
The final Para-Sport event of the evening was the SM10 200m Individual Medley, featuring Glasgow 2014 athlete Katherine Downie (2:31.81), Rio Paralympian Paige Leonhardt (2:32.68) and the youngest athlete on the entire Australian Commonwealth Games Jasmine Greenwood (2:34.97) at just 13-years-of-age.
Downie claimed bronze and swam the fastest she has swum since Glasgow 2014.
“To do this in front of a home crowd is unreal. I could hear them in the freestyle and I could hear them in the breaststroke and I thought, ‘you know what? I’ll do this for Australia.’
“I had three years where I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted to, and having swum the fastest since Glasgow, I’m beyond stoked.
“I was looking at the end of my career, but swimming here, it’s kind of like being given golden eggs, where you kind of have to keep going now. It’s a bit rude, really!” she joked.
And in tonight’s 100m freestyle semi-finals Australia’s Cam McEvoy will start in lane four as he chases his first major international gold medal sine the 2014 Pan Pacs, after qualifying in 48.50 from Le Clos (48.61), a sluggish Olympic champion and 200m champion Kyle Chalmers (48.70) with third Aussie Jack Cartwright (48.72) the fifth fastest for tomorrow.
Later in the night Campbell (25.56) qualified in second place for the 50m butterfly final behind Olympic silver medallist over 200m butterfly Maddie Groves (25.44) and Holly Barratt (25.88) as the Aussies chase a second 1-2-3.