Dolphins reign* supreme in the swimming pool, delivering the #1 spot on the medal table to the green and gold after week one of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The current medal haul of 123 – made up of 46 gold, 38 silver and 39 bronze – has Australia in a comfortable lead ahead of host nation and hot rival* England, following a stunning performance from the Australian swim squad.
Here’s a roundup of the week that was in the West Midlands.
TEEN QUEEN AND GOAT* GOBSMACKINGLY GOOD
Australia’s new superstar swimmer Mollie O’Callaghan and her teammates capped off their incredible performance with the last gold medal in the pool, sending a strong message to the world that the best is still to come at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Swimming the freestyle leg, O’Callaghan joined forces with Kaylee McKeown (backstroke), Chelsea Hodges (breaststroke) and Emma McKeon (butterfly) to win the women’s 4x100m medley* relay in decisive* fashion.
“It’s pretty epic,” O’Callaghan said. “We all crushed it this week. Just in general, the atmosphere, the support, and just like everyone’s energy throughout the week has just been amazing. It’s been nice to have such an amazing team.”
“I would love to get home. It will be nice to see all of the (family).”
At just 18 and already building an impressive trophy collection, O’Callaghan won two golds and a bronze in Tokyo, three golds and three silvers at the recent world championships in Budapest and now seven medals in Birmingham.
She has some way to go to catch Australia’s newly anointed* Commonwealth Games GOAT McKeon, who collected her sixth gold and her eighth medal from 16 races over six days.
“I’m obviously really happy to be on top of the podium for the medley relay,” McKeon said.
“It’s always fun to do, we like to be a bit silly in the marshalling* area because it’s the last one.”
Ariarne Titmus also captured her fourth gold medal, successfully defending her 400m freestyle crown in a tight battle against Canadian teenage sensation Summer McIntosh. Titmus got the win in 3:58.06. Just 15, McIntosh took the silver only about a body length behind, in 3:59.32. Australia’s Kiah Melverton won the bronze.
Titmus entered four events in Birmingham and won the lot – 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle.
BRINGING THEIR BEST TO BIRMINGHAM
And it wasn’t just the women who brought their best to Birmingham, with 18-year-old Sam Short blitzing* the field to win gold in the 1500m freestyle on Thursday morning.
The teenager regained the lead in the sport’s longest race from Northern Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen at the 900m mark, then surged clear to win in 14:48.54.
The race slashed almost nine seconds off his previous best time and moved him to fifth place on the Australian rankings, behind Grant Hackett, Mack Horton, Kieren Perkins and Jack McLoughlin.
One of Australia’s brightest prospects in freestyle distance swimming, Short also won a silver in the 400m behind his world champion teammate Elijah Winnington.
And in a thrilling men’s 4x100m medley relay, England denied Australia gold on the touch.
On the final leg, England’s Tom Dean beat Kyle Chalmers to the wall by two-hundredths of a second to win in 3min 31.80s. Scotland claimed the bronze.
Replays suggested the Englishman’s decision to dive for the wall made the difference, but swimming legend and commentator Ian Thorpe spotted a second issue: Chalmers switched his breathing side and could not see his rival during the tail end of the race.
Chalmers had the same issue in the 100m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics against Caleb Dressel.
“If you can see what’s going on it may have been a different result,” Thorpe said on Channel 7. “Similar to what happened in the 100m final at the Olympics.”
Dual medal winner backstroker Brad Woodward went out fast for Australia, passing to 200m breaststroke champion Zac Stubblety-Cook, followed by butterfly silver medallist Matthew Temple – but Australia tailed England the whole way before that heart-stopping finish.
“We missed the top spot but I’m happy as Larry,” Temple said. “We’re always neck and neck (with England); we didn’t get up this time but we’ll get them next time.”
Chalmers was equally pragmatic*.
“ It would have been nice to stand on top of the podium, but it’s a good way to finish the week,” he said.
FLYING MULLET FINISHES SIXTH
Australia’s favourite mullet Rohan Browning was unable to repeat his stunning heat run in the 100m sprint final, finishing sixth.
Running from lane eight, the Flying Mullet seemed slow at the start before closing late to clock 10.20sec.
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala won the gold in 10.02sec from defending champion South Africa’s Akani Simbine (10.13sec).
Browning, who set his career best of 10.01sec at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, ran 10.10sec to win his heat on Tuesday.
“It’s nice to make a final and go through rounds of running,” Browning said afterwards. “It’s a step in the right direction … I’m not satisfied, but not too beat up.
“It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
SILVER FOR STARC
In the men’s high jump, defending champion Brandon Starc missed out on back-to-back Commonwealth golds, but collected silver after New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr won gold on countback*.
Starc had a wild ride to the podium on Wednesday night.
His second jump failed at 2.15m – and on 2.19m Starc came close to an early exit, before advancing on his third attempt.
But something happened as Starc lay flat on his back following a misjudged* first attempt at 2.22m.
The 28-year-old then comfortably cleared his next two jumps to rocket into medal contention* and ultimately finish second.
CUTHBERT SMASHES TRACK WITH SURPRISE SILVER
Earlier in the week, Zoe Cuthbert produced the ride of her life to win the silver medal in the cross-country mountain bike.
England’s world champion Evie Richards took out the women’s race as expected – but the 21-year-old Aussie put in a sensational ride.
Early on in the race of seven 4.8km laps around Cannock Chase, Cuthbert’s medal chances looked to be in doubt, but as the race progressed she got stronger and stronger and claimed the second place silver, the biggest achievement of her career to date.
- GOAT: greatest of all time
- reign: to rule, to be the best or most powerful
- rival: person or group competing with others for the same thing or in the same area
- medley: mixture of different things not usually placed together, as in different swim strokes in one race
- decisive: producing a definite, strong, conclusive result
- anointed: naming someone something special, recognising someone with a title
- marshalling: assembling, arranging, organising, bringing together in controlled, official way
- blitzing: sudden, swift, overwhelming
- pragmatic: accepting and dealing with things in a practical, sensible way
- countback: system of deciding the winner of a tied competition by comparing earlier points
- misjudged: made an incorrect and inaccurate assessment of a situation or challenge
- contention: competing for a prize or certain outcome, particularly in sport
- At the time of writing, how many medals has Australia won in total and in each placing?
- Who is the Commonwealth Games GOAT and how many medals did she win in the pool?
- What did commentator and swimming legend Ian Thorpe notice about Kyle Chalmers’ leg in the 4×100 medley relay?
- Sprinter Rohan Browning finished in what place in the 100m sprint final?
- What is mountain bike rider Zoe Cuthbert’s biggest career achievement to date?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Write a Kids News Commonwealth Games story
Choose another sport that is in the Commonwealth Games. Follow the competition and write a Kids News story that reports on the achievements and the results of the Aussie athletes who are competing.
Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education
What makes our Commonwealth Games swimmers great role models for kids your age? Write paragraphs explaining all of the positive qualities that they are showing us. Use information in the story to help you. Use your research skills to find out what it takes to be an elite swimmer and use that information, too.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Personal and Social Capability
The Aussies are racking up the medals in the pool, some easily and some in much closer competition. Pick one of the events listed in the article to write up either a commentary of the race, or an interview with the athlete after the race.
Remember to use your VCOP skills to create style and voice to connect with your audience.