History was made as Akani Simbine (South Africa) and Michelle Lee-Ahye (Trinidad and Tobago) took the gold medals of the men’s and women’s 100m, on the second day of the athletics events of the XXI Commonwealth Games, at the Carrara stadium, here, on Monday.
It was the least expected, at least in the men’s section, as the pre-event favourite, Yohan Blake had boasted of there being plenty in the tank, after last night’s semifinals. However, Simbine and compatriot Henricho Bruint Jies proved otherwise, as they took 1-2 in the blue riband event. It was also South Africa’s first ever gold medal over the distance.
Simbine, who finished fifth in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 World championships, blessed with a good start, seized control at the halfway stage and was never in trouble thereafter, as he closed in to complete a splendid win in 10.03s. Blake was still in the picture for the silver but was overtaken by a strong finishing Jies, who clocked 10.17s. The Jamaican 2011 world champion was involved in a photo-finish with Nigerian Seye Ogunlewe, before being awarded with the bronze in 10.19s.
The women’s 100m, in contrast, was a straightforward affair as favourite Michelle-Lee Ahye became the first woman from Trinidad and Tobago to win gold in the Games, taking the race with a dominant display and a time of 11.14s. Jamaicans Christania Williams and Gayon Evans took silver and bronze, clocking 11.21s and 11.22s, respectively.
Ahye is the second athlete from her country to take gold in the event, after Ato Boldon, winner of the men’s race at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games, with a record time of 9.88s. The win here for her also made up for the disappointment that she had, withdrawing from the 100m semifinals of Glasgow 2014, owing to a hamstring injury.
World indoor and outdoor champion Tom Walsh (New Zealand) was unable to match his impressive qualification mark of 22.45m, but still was an easy winner of the shot put, with a heave of 21.41m. However, the event had a surprise silver medallist, as Nigerian Cukwuebuka Enekwech threw the iron ball to a personal best distance of 21.14m. Tim Medow took bronze with 20.91m.
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As was expected, the women’s 10,000m was dominated by East African athletes, as Stella Chesang (Uganda) topped in 31:45.30, and was followed by Stacy Ndiwa (Kenya), in a personal best of 31:46.36 and Mercyline Chelangat (also from Uganda) in 31:48.41.
Among Indian athletes in the fray, Mohammed Anas Yahiya was one to have the arc lights turned on him, as he won the third semifinal of the men’s 400m, in a relatively good time of 45.44s. Tejinder Singh, who featured in the shot put final, was placed eighth, as he was a far cry from his personal best and settled for a best of 19.42, which came off his third effort.
Tejaswini Shankar made it to the final of the men’s high jump, clearing 2.21m – a height which seemed to be the norm for all those who passed the initial test from Group A. There was a bit to cheer late into the evening, when Suriya Loganathan achieved a personal best time of 32:23.56 in the women’s 10,000m, though finishing only 13th.
In the morning, Hima Das, running her first international event in the women’s 400m, qualified for the semifinal with a time of 52.11s in the fifth heat. This, after M.R. Poovamma had wound up fifth in heat 1, clocking 53.72s.
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