Commonwealth Games: Australia rules the waves in Birmingham

Australia won a whopping 65 medals in swimming at the Birmingham Games, Emma McKeon winning eight. Indian swimmers, though, did not make much of an impact.

On a roll: Emma McKeon won six gold, one silver and one bronze to become the only medallist with eight medals at the Birmingham Games.

On a roll: Emma McKeon won six gold, one silver and one bronze to become the only medallist with eight medals at the Birmingham Games. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Australia won a whopping 65 medals in swimming at the Birmingham Games, Emma McKeon winning eight. Indian swimmers, though, did not make much of an impact.

Australia dominated the swimming events at the Commonwealth Games with 65 medals — 25 gold, 21 silver and 19 bronze. Its nearest competitor was England, which stood second with 32 medals — eight gold, 16 silver and eight bronze. Giving England a run for its money was Canada.

India’s performance was not up to standard. The veteran Sajan Prakash failed to make it to the final of his first event — 50m butterfly — after finishing last in his heats. In 200m butterfly, he was selected as a reserve and had a swim-off with Kieren Pollard of Australia after both finished their respective heats with a time of 1:58.99. The swim-off selected the reserve swimmer for the final, and Sajan grabbed the chance to improve his heats timing by 0.68 seconds. He sailed into the semifinals of the 100m butterfly but his run ended there.

Debutants Kushagra Rawat and Advait Page both qualified for the 1500m freestyle final but finished last and second-last, respectively. Rawat also competed in the 200m and 400m freestyle, and finished last in both the heats. Among the Indian para swimmers, Suyash Jadhav and Niranjan Mukundan participated in the men’s 50m freestyle S7 finals to finish fifth and seventh, respectively, while Ashish Kumar Singh was placed last in the men’s 100m backstroke S9 final.

There was something for India to savour, however. Srihari Nataraj broke the national record in 200m backstroke, clocking 2:00.84 to go past his 2019 record of 2:01.70. He finished third in his heat.

Some famous swimmers who lit up the Games were Olympic champions Emma McKeon, Adam Peaty and Ariarne Titmus.

Gold galore

Australia’s McKeon made history by taking her tally of gold medals at the Commonwealth Games to 14, the most by any athlete. She won six gold, one silver and one bronze to become the only medallist with eight medals at the Birmingham Games. Compatriot Mollie O’ Callaghan, who secured five gold and two silver, finished second. Ariarne Titmus won gold in all the four events she took part in — the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle, and the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Challenging the Australian hegemony was 15-year-old Summer McIntosh, who became Canada’s first gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games when she won the women’s 400m individual medley final in 4:29.01s to set a new Games record. McIntosh, Canada’s youngest swimming world champion, now has the third-fastest timing in the Commonwealth Games.

The Games saw another world record set when Katja Dedekind of Australia clinched the gold in the women’s 50m freestyle S13 final in a world record time of 26.67 seconds, going past the previous record of 26.56 seconds.

In the men’s event, South African swimmer Chad le Clos became the joint-most decorated athlete in the history of the Commonwealth Games with a silver in men’s 200m butterfly. He won his 18th medal at the Games. Only shooters Phillip Adams and Mick Gault have 18 medals. Clos has now won seven gold, four silver and seven bronze at the Games since 2010.

In his first competition after injury, Adam Peaty swam the fastest in the 100m breaststroke and was the only swimmer to finish under a minute in the heats, clocking 59.92 seconds. However, in the final, he was placed fourth. He redeemed himself when he added the elusive 50m breaststroke gold to his kitty.

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