Commonwealth Games: Athletics - Weir and Lewis hit golden heights

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The Independent Online
GOOD NEWS for England - even better news for Birchfield Harriers, as two of their number claimed gold medals on the second day of the athletics programme in the humid vastness of the Bukit Jalil Stadium. Step forward Robert Weir and Denise Lewis.

Weir, 37, now has a Commonwealth discus title to add to the one he won in the hammer 16 years ago at the 1982 Brisbane Games. If, as seems likely, a career which has outspanned those of such as Linford Christie and Roger Black is drawing to a close, this was a perfect way in which to end it.

The Birmingham thrower's accent has been modified by years of working in the United States, first as an American footballer - he narrowly missed selection for the San Francisco 49ers - and then in the coaching job at Stanford University to which he will return next month.

Before then he hopes to respond to an invitation to take part in the World's Strongest Man competition in North Africa, a title previously won by another English thrower, Geoff Capes. His competitive spirit has not weakened over the years. After seeing his second round leading throw of 63.12 metres surpassed by a fifth- round effort of 63.91 from South Africa's Frantz Kruger, he responded with his next throw to send the discus out to 64.42 metres, a Commonwealth Games record.

Lewis finished off the job she had more than half completed the previous day to secure her second heptathlon title. After winning the long jump in 6.52m and the javelin in 51.22m, she had sufficient leeway going into the last of the seven events, the 800 metres, that she could have given her nearest challenger a lead of 100 metres and still won. As it was, a time of 2min 21.90sec produced a final score of 6,513 points, which left the 26-year old comfortably clear of the silver medallist, Australia's Jane Jamieson.

Since winning the European title just 26 days earlier, an achievement which established her as the world No 1, Lewis had trained for just four days. "After my ankle injury earlier this year, I knew this was going to be a season of consolidation so to score over 6,500 again when I know I have done less than 80 per cent of the work I should have done makes me feel very good," she said.

There remained one task for her to complete. She intends to make sure that Candace Blades, the 18-year-old Belize schoolgirl who finished 3,190 points behind her in last place, receives material assistance for her future career. "I've got to get her a decent pair of spikes," Lewis said. "Addresses have been exchanged."