Swimmers and cyclists drive Australia to top of Commonwealth medal table

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Australia’s Dolphins have kickstarted the host nation’s Games with an impressive six gold, four silver and four bronzes on day two to drive Australia to the top of the medal table.

Two quinellas and a remarkable fourth-ever clean sweep in the women’s 100m butterfly have capped a dominant night in the pool, with medals also arriving in the velodrome, weightlifting and gymnastics.

In a field boasting the South African Chad Le Clos and England’s James Guy, Australia’s Rio golden boys Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton led the way, chasing down the fast-starting Le Clos to deliver an impressive one-two finish in the men’s 200m freestyle.

Both the sprint specialist and the long distance star finished strongly in a result that pleased Chalmers and delighted a vocal home crowd.

“We had a race plan and we stuck to it really well”, said Chalmers. “The third 50 felt pretty strong, and I knew I had a bit to give in that last 50. I could see [Guy] coming at me, but it’s awesome to go one-two with one of my best mates.”

Mitch Larkin and Bradley Woodward then delivered a second Australian quinella in the men’s 100m backstroke but the result of the evening came in the women’s 100m butterfly – a pet race of Australian greats such as Susie O’Neill and Petria Thomas – where Emma McKeon and Madeleine Groves both put aside recent adversity and injury to sweep the medals alongside Brianna Throssell.

James Magnussen notched a third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay as the men echoed the exploits of their female counterparts from day one in grabbing gold, while an exuberant Clyde Lewis produced one of the personal bests of the Games thus far, shaving 3.5sec off his previous mark for gold in the men’s 400m individual medley.

The local boy’s post-race interview was cut short as the colour appeared to visibly drain from Lewis’s face, as exhaustion and lactic acid took hold. Asked to describe how he was feeling, only one word came out: “Obliterated.”

In the velodrome, Stephanie Morton repeated her day-one success in the women’s sprint, firstly defeating team partner Kaarle McCullouch in the semi-final before proving too strong for New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen in a final where she led from front wheel.

In 2014 Morton delivered one of the upsets of the Glasgow Games, beating Anna Meares in the same event, and with the “queen of the boards” watching on in the arena that now bears her name it was only fitting that it was Meares’ successor Morton who recorded Australia’s 100th track cycling Commonwealth Games gold.

Matt Glaetzer added a second gold in quick succession in the men’s keirin with Scotland’s Katie Archibald maintaining her cadence brilliantly to relegate Rebecca Wiasak to silver in the women’s 3000m individual pursuit, in which Annette Edmonson also claimed bronze in an all-Australian clash with Ashley Ankudinoff.

On the floor, Australia put wobbles on the beam behind them to finish with bronze in the women’s team final behind Canada and England, but the performance of the night came in Carrara, at the weightlifting.

Dubbed the “world’s fittest woman” after winning the 2017 CrossFit Games, Tia-Clair Toomey successfully made the transition to weightlifting with dual PBs in both the snatch and the clean and jerk components to take gold ahead of the favourite, Canada’s Tali Darsigny, in a display of tenacity that in retrospect almost appeared inevitable.

After the medal presentation Brisbane-born Toomey was reduced to tears at the memory of her cousin, Jade, who died tragically in a car accident last week.

“She was there lifting that barbell with me … that was dedicated to her,” said an emotional Toomey, who made six clean lifts, 87kg in the snatch and 114kg in the clean and jerk to take gold in an event that has evaded Australia since Melbourne 2006.

Australia have 36 medals in all, with 14 gold thus far, ahead of traditional rivals England in second place with nine.

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