Athletics: Montsho clinches 400m gold

Asmantle Montsho’s gold in the women’s 400m made Botswana the first country to possess a 400m double in the Commonwealth Games.

Botswana's Amantle Montsho celebrates after winning the women’s 400m final at Carrara Stadium.   -  AP

Asmantle Montsho powered her way past her opponents to clinch the women’s 400m gold at the Carrara stadium here on Wednesday night. It provided another reason for the Botswana delegation to celebrate as only 24 hours earlier, compatriot Isaac Makwala had won the corresponding event among men.

Botswana, thus, became the first country to possess a 400m double in the Commonwealth Games.

Montsho, the Commonwealth Games 2010 gold medallist and the 2011 world champion, proved that much was left in her as she registered a time of 50.15s — her quickest in five years.

CWG: As it happened

Jamaicans Anastasia Le-Roy (50.57s) and defending champion Stephenie McPherson (50.93s) took silver and bronze; India’s Hima Das produced yet another personal best of 51.32s to take the sixth place. Das, a teenager from Assam, was the first Indian woman athlete to compete in track final at the Games; she had clocked 51.53s in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Dominance broken

The only other track final of the day — the women’s 3000m steeple chase — saw the Kenyan dominance in the event finally being broken. Maximila Imal Aisha Praught (Jamaica) caught up with pre-final favourite Celliphine Chespol and overtook the latter in the final bend to get home in 9:21.00. It was a great effort by Praught and what stood out was that Jamaica had never before won a Games medal in a race longer than the 800m.

Chespol (9:22.61), the world U-20 record holder, finished second, while Purity Kuru (9:25.74), the 2014 gold medallist, was third.

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Host Australia, too, had plenty to cheer before the night ran out. Kathryn Mitchell, on her fourth Games, went on to complete an emphatic win in the women’s javelin throw; she unleashed the longest throw in the world for five years — 68.92m. In all her other three appearances she had failed to win a medal, but tonight, she sealed the gold medal in her first attempt itself.

Kelsey-Lee Roberts made it 1-2 for the home team with a final round effort of 63.89m, leaving South African Sunette Viljoen with the bronze with a best of 62.08. Viljoen became the first woman to win medals in this event at a fourth successive Games.

South African cheer

Another South African emerged in the headlines back home, as world champion Luvo Manyonga repelled the challenge from Henry Frayne (Australia) to take the long jump gold. The Australian, who had led the qualifiers with a Games record of 8.34m, looked be in firm control as he came up with a near repeat (8.33m) in his second attempt. But Manyonga dislodged the former from the top with a soaring 8.35m in the fourth round; he improved it further to 8.41m two jumps later to establish his supremacy.

Frayne, despite being egged by a full house, had nothing more to offer while Ruswahi Samaai gave South Africa the bronze with an effort of 8.22m.

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Brandon Starc made up for compatriot Frayne’s failure by producing a personal best performance of 2.32m to take the men’s high jump gold. Brandon — the younger brother of Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc — cleared the winning height in his first attempt itself to provide his country its first ever title in the event after 24 years.

Jamal Wilson (Bahamas) took silver with a first time clearance of 2.30m and Django Lovett (Canada) ended up with the bronze, jumping the same height in his third attempt.

Tejaswini Shankar, figuring in the final, was placed joint sixth with a best of 2.24m, nowhere near his personal best of 2.28m.

Nayana James and V. Neena, the other Indians to be seen in action, made it to the final of women’s long jump. Their efforts of 6.34m and 6.24m were sufficient in the absence of adequate jumpers to have crossed the qualifying mark of 6.60m.