Commonwealth Games: After being disqualified with only two kilometres to go, Aussie walker Claire Tallent was still on hand to congratulate her countrywomen at the end of the race.
NO Big Tuna, no big deal. Cold stricken champion Kyle Chalmers may have suffered a shock loss but a rousing pool rally and Australian cycling’s wheels of thunder made it a night to savour.
The defeat of Olympic champion Kyle “Big Tuna’’ Chalmers in the blue riband event of the Commonwealth Games swim program, the 100m freestyle, had an extra layer of shock because it came not at the hand of local rival Cam McEvoy but Scotland’s 20-year-old Duncan Scott.
But soon after Chalmers dead-heated for silver the mood quickly swung from solemn to celebration as five gold medals were harvested in a bumper night’s swimming.
Majestic Cate Campbell, in such great form that she’d give Winx a run for her money, stormed to gold in the 50m butterfly, another highlight in a meet in which she has cast an aura of invincibility.
“I swear, if there was a roof on the stadium, we would have lifted it off,” Campbell said.
At the velodrome there was only a solitary stumble as Australia won three from four golds.
Each had a rich storyline as the Aussies finished with 10 golds from the meet, two more than the team goal and three more than the last Games in Glasgow.
The boisterous Australian team area was such a stark contrast to the grim, depressed mood which engulfed the dugout at the Rio Olympics.
Australian cycling has its mojo back.
Normally Olympic champions are irresistible forces at the Commonwealth Games titles. This time it worked the other way around as Chalmers went down.
It was a reminder that Chalmers will never again have the luxury of storming from the shadows like he did in Rio when he won 100m gold. The hunter has become the hunted.
Mitch Larkin, the unassuming Clark Kent of Australian swimming, found his Superman costume to head an Australian trifecta in the 50m backstroke to add to his 100m title, a worthy achievement for a dedicated sportsman whose insatiable search for technical perfection has provided some tricky challenges over the last three years.
Larkin led a power-packed trifecta including defending champion Ben Treffers (24.84) who swam his fastest time for three years Perth’s bronze medallist Zac Incerti (25.06) overcoming a back complaint.
“I knew if things went to plan we could go one-two-three with an awesome crowd,” Larkin said.
Larkin paid tribute to new coach Dean Boxall for easing his anxious mindset.
“He said ‘swim like you’re that teenage boy again, feel the water and just swim.’,” Larkin said.
“He meant a little more carefree because I’d been picking up things about technique along the way and mixed messages were feeding into my swimming that were my own fault.”
The night finished on a high note with Chalmers, Alexander Graham, Mack Horton and 17-year-old sensation Elijah Winnington, the fastest of the lot, spearheading a victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Australia may have failed to win the glamorous 100m but the golds kept coming courtesy of para swimmers Jesse Aungles and Lakeisha Patterson.
But while the swimmers were in strong form the cyclists had roared to an even higher plane, feeding off each other’s success and riding high on thunderous crowd support.
Matthew Glaetzer was the embodiment of the pleasure and pain of a multi-event program when he recovered from the shattering disappointment in the first round of the sprint on Saturday with a robust victory in the 1km time trial.
“It was big today … after a shocking day yesterday,” Glaetzer said.
“I had to regroup, sometimes things don’t go the way you plan them. This is really good to come back and prove to yourself that you can do it, get one up for Australia, because I owed them one for yesterday, so I am over the moon.’’
Amy Cure, who hails from the tiny seaside town of Penguin in Tasmania, could fit most of the people from that town in the velodrome in which she won the 10km scratch race.
Stephanie Morton was to the cycling program what Cate Campbell has been to the swim team, the supreme standard setter who won her third gold last night, won the keirin.
“I can’t believe I’ve ticked all the boxes I wanted to coming into these Games,” Morton said.
“I wanted gold in the team sprint, in the keirin and in the 500m (time trial) yesterday.
“I absolutely rode out of my skin and got a massive PB.”
Earlier in the day Gold Coast based Dane Bird-Smith won gold in the 20km race walk, a feat matched by Jemima Montag in the women’s event on the opening day of the athletics program.
Soon after Bird-Smith finished the way most locals would celebrate such a win — with a dip in the ocean.
Glaetzer followed in the footsteps of Australia’s original ‘minute man’ Shane Kelly by winning the event, which was his second gold medal for the week.
Driven by his shock exit in the first round of the sprint on Saturday when he went in as the reigning world champion, the 25-year-old executed his race against the clock to perfection with 59.34secs to destroy New Zealander Ed Dawkins in 59.928 and Scotland’s Olympic champion Callum Skinner in 1:01.083.
Also winning gold on her bike was Steph Morton who edged out Kaarle McCulloch in the Kieren final while Amy Cure took gold in the 10km scratch race.
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Originally published as Swimmers reign supreme, cycling has its mojo back