Aus­tralia shi­nesh bright­estb with Com­mon­wealth Games tally

The Guardian Weekly - - Sport - Mike Hyt­ner

Af­ter a hugely suc­cess­ful start to the fi­nal day of com­pe­ti­tion two cruel, late body blows led to an air of op­por­tu­nity lost for the host na­tion as the fi­nal cur­tain fell on the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games.

Three marathon wins, fol­lowed by an­other bas­ket­ball tri­umph and vic­tory on the squash court took Aus­tralia’s gold medal tally to 80, but there it re­mained thanks to late drama in both the net­ball and the women’s rugby sev­ens fi­nals.

In the net­ball, Eng­land se­cured an as­ton­ish­ing last-sec­ond 52-51 vic­tory against the world champions. Un­til now ev­ery Com­mon­wealth Games fi­nal had been con­tested be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand. Eng­land’s win, when the ex­pec­ta­tion here was that the hosts would saunter to vic­tory, could prompt a ma­jor shift in the sport’s world or­der.

Soon af­ter, Aus­tralia’s rugby sev­ens team fell to a 17-12 sud­den-death ex­tra-time de­feat to New Zealand in the fi­nal at Robina.

Ear­lier, cham­pion para-ath­lete Kurt Fearn­ley, one of the faces of these Games, bowed out of in­ter­na­tional rac­ing af­ter claim­ing gold in the first event of the day with a Com­mon­wealth record for the T54 marathon.

The two-time Par­a­lympic marathon cham­pion, who also won sil­ver in the T54 1500m, said he was ready to call time. “I’m grate­ful ac­tu­ally [to

be re­tir­ing] That just hurt. I busted my­self out there, I’ve got noth­ing.”

David Palmer also bid farewell to his ca­reer on a high note, win­ning the men’s dou­bles squash ti­tle with Zac Alexan­der with vic­tory over Eng­land’s Daryl Selby and Adrian Waller.

The Games ended on a flat note as or­gan­is­ers apol­o­gised af­ter sting­ing crit­i­cism of the clos­ing cer­e­mony, when tele­vi­sion view­ers were un­able to see the ath­letes en­ter­ing the sta­dium with each na­tion’s flag bearer. The length of the speeches also had ath­letes and spec­ta­tors head­ing for the ex­its long be­fore the cer­e­mony of­fi­cially wound up.

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