World and Olympic champion adds 800m victory to her 1500m gold as England’s Alex Bell finishes fine fifth, while Danniel Thomas-Dodd secures shot put success
Three days after winning the 1500m title, Caster Semenya stormed to another Commonwealth Games record-breaking victory, completing a middle-distance double with 800m gold on the Gold Coast.
Despite it being her fourth race in five days, the South African world and Olympic champion dominated the two-lap final and clocked 1:56.68 to improve on the Games record which had been set by Joanna Houareau in 2002.
Kenya’s Margaret Wambui claimed the silver in 1:58.07 and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule the bronze in a 1:58.82 PB, as England’s Alex Bell finished fifth.
“Being able to win the double is a memory I’ll never forget but I’m doing this for the youth to show them that anything is possible, if you believe,” said Semenya, who is the third athlete after Wales’ Kirsty Wade in 1986 and Kenya’s Nancy Langat in 2010 to win both the 800m and 1500m at the same Games.
“Today was all about being in command and running your own race,” she added.
“A world record for me is not that important at the moment. What’s important now is to be able to win every race that I run. My idols have done that so I just want to walk in their footsteps.”
Bell was delighted with her two two-minute runs back-to-back, her time of 2:00.83 in the final following a 2:00.11 PB in her heat.
“It took me all season last year just to run one (two-minute 800m), so to do so at this point in the season is great. It gives me so much confidence competing against a world-class field, I’m really looking forward to what the season holds.
“I hate to bring it up again but I was missed out from the original team and I think if that opportunity hadn’t have come for me to step into the team, who knows what would have happened? I wouldn’t have had the motivation or the confidence that I’ve now got this early on in the year.”
The women’s shot put had looked set to be a classic, with five athletes in the 2017/18 rankings having surpassed 18 metres.
It turned out to be a brilliant battle as world indoor silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd broke the Jamaican record with a throw of 19.36m to get gold ahead of New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who was making her major return to competition after the birth of her first child, daughter Kimoana, just six months ago.
Adams threw 18.70m to add another silver to a Commonwealth medal haul which already included three golds from 2006, 2010 and 2014, plus a silver from 2002.
Canada’s Brittany Crew claimed bronze with 18.32m, while Sophie McKinna was the top-placed English thrower as she recorded a 17.76m PB for fifth, one place ahead of Rachel Wallader with 17.48m, while Amelia Strickler was ninth with 16.78m.
McKinna’s mark is the best by a British woman since 2000 and moves her to fifth on the UK all-time list.
Also in the field, Canada’s Alysha Newman improved the pole vault Games record to 4.75m to win the title ahead of New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney (4.70m) and Australia’s Nina Kennedy (4.60m), as England’s Holly Bradshaw also cleared the bronze medal-winning height but missed out on a podium place on count back.
Her team-mate Molly Caudery was fifth with a PB of 4.40m and their fellow English athlete Lucy Bryan seventh with 4.30m, while Sally Peake of Wales was 10th with 4.30m.
The evening’s final event was the women’s 100m hurdles, which was missing Australian favourite Sally Pearson through injury.
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan came close to the Games record of 12.65 with 12.68 for the win ahead of Jamaica’s Danielle Williams (12.78) and Yanique Thompson (12.97) as England’s Tiffany Porter was sixth in 13.12 and Alicia Barrett eighth in 13.64.
» See the April 12 and 19 editions of AW magazine for in-depth event-by-event coverage from the Gold Coast Games