The 2018 Commonwealth Games has now come to a close – but has given some athletes memories for a lifetime. More records were broken, more unlikely scalps were achieved and more Brits won medals – however, perhaps not as many as people expected.
We review the highs and lows of Week Two of the Games.
England’s netballers achieve landmark gold with shock last-gasp victory
Not many spectators gave the England women’s netball team much of a chance when they faced the overwhelming favourites Australia in the final.
When they were trailing to the Aussies by a four-point deficit going into the final quarter, they could probably be forgiven for thinking that a Gold medal was out of reach.
However, a late surge ended with Helen Housby scoring in the final second to give England a dramatic 52-51 victory. In the process, England’s netballers won their country’s first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in this sport.
Head coach Tracey Neville said after the game that “Australia and New Zealand have conquered the world for a long time. But we’ve finally broken that seal.”
Despite this incredible achievement by England’s female netballers, a recent study by Insure4Sport shows that sexism is still rife in the competitive sport industry.
Neville also added that funding for women’s netball remains a “noose around our neck”. Hopefully, though, this victory will go some way towards improving the wider perception of women’s sports.
Callum Hawkins’ collapse
From the euphoric high of England’s victory, to the devastating low of Scottish distance runner Callum Hawkins’ collapse in the marathon.
Hawkins was leading the marathon just over one mile from the end, when he lost his balance as he struggled against the 27C heat and fell over a kerb. He then managed to pick himself up and run another couple of hundred metres, before staggering again and hitting his head on a roadside barrier.
Worryingly, it took medical staff several minutes to arrive and assist Hawkins, with some spectators taking photographs of him on their phones. Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe tweeted that this “should never happen.”
However, Hawkins has since been discharged from hospital and there is no obvious long-term head damage.
New Zealand make more history
Only, this time for the right reasons. After the women’s netball team’s shock defeat to Malawi in Week One, the women’s rugby team helped restore some pride by beating fierce rivals Australia in a dramatic finish.
Ranked number 1 in the world, and with a resounding semi-final victory over England under their belt, Australia were clear favourites going into the game.
By half-time, though, they were shell-shocked, after tries from Portia Woodman and Michela Byde put the Kiwis 12-0 ahead.
Rallied on by the home crowd, Australia fought back to tie the match up at 12-12 and force extra time.
However, not to be unsettled by losing momentum, New Zealand scored a dramatic try to win 17-12. Kelly Brazier picked up the ball in her own half, glided past two Australian challenges and left three defenders in her wake as she scored the winning try for the Kiwis.
In the seconds that followed, Brazier collapsed with exhaustion and tried to get her breath back – something that probably wasn’t helped by all of her teammates piling on top of her!
Shooting for gold
It might not be a sporting success that has got a lot of headlines, but 15-year-old shooter Anish Bhanwala’s gold medal made Commonwealth Games history.
In a sensational Games debut, Anish shot a record score of 30 to claim the top prize in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event.
His success makes him India’s youngest-ever gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games – which, considering the country has won 181 gold medals, is an amazing feat.
Wales break records – but England disappoint
Welsh athletes can hold their heads up high after another very successful week at the Games. In total, Wales won 36 medals at the 2018 Games – equalling their record total from Glasgow with 36 medals and doubling their tally of five golds from 2014.
The highlight in Week Two was Hollie Arnold’s world record throw to claim the F46 javelin title. Arnold achieved gold with an incredible throw of 44.43m, having been pushed all the way by New Zealand’s Holly Robinson.
Scotland also had an impressive Games, winning 44 medals on the Gold Coast, while Northern Ireland matched their total of 12 medals from Glasgow in 2014.
However, the general feeling is that England’s athletes underperformed. England won 136 medals at the Games, which is 38 less than in 2014. In fact, statistically, this was the country’s second-worst performance in the 21 editions of the Commonwealths.
That said, the England women’s netball team’s shock victory and the three gold medals won by diver Jack Laugher certainly give us reasons to be optimistic in the years ahead!