Commonwealth Games: Australia plunder the gold vaults

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA SIMPLY bulldozed through the swimming programme again last night, winning every gold gold and 10 of the 12 individual medals on offer. They have now won 17 of the 20 gold medals in the pool.

The first to break their domination was Adam Whitehead. The 18-year-old from Coventry gave a magnificent performance in the 200 metres breaststroke, taking the bronze medal in a best time of 2min 14.44sec. Only Whitehead and Nick Gillingham have bettered David Wilkie's 2min 15.11sec from the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Whitehead said: "I swim for me and don't worry about what the others have done but it's nice to be compared to them. I came here hoping for a gold medal but am very happy with a bronze medal at my first major championships."

England's second bronze medal came courtesy of the men's 4 x 100m freestyle team, when the anchor swimmer Nick Shackell had a blistering split of 49.28sec. The second fastest man on the night, it was the first time he has broken 50 seconds but, because of the benefit of the moving start that is a feature of relay swimming, it cannot count as a British record.

However, it will go a long way to restoring his confidence after a woeful Games and give him the belief that, having done it once, he can, and will, do it again.

Australia's man of the moment, Ian Thorpe, was strong enough to hold off his team-mate Grant Hackett as they set the second - and third - fastest times ever as Australia won the gold, silver and bronze medals in the 400m freestyle.

Thorpe's winning time of 3:44.35sec was just 0.5sec outside the world record and his fourth gold medal. Scotland's Graeme Smith was sixth and, for England, Jamie Salter finished eighth.

Australia were in the medals again in the second event of the night, the women's 100 metre butterfly. Susan O'Neill could only manage a silver medal and will have to wait until tomorrow for her fifth gold medal, thus equalling the highest number of golds from a single games. On the final day she should add one more.

Today, however, could be England's big day. Sue Rolph and James Hickman are both red hot favourites for gold medals and Mark Foster and Martin Harris will swim as defending champions.

Sarah Collings is also ranked as favourite for today's final after the heat of the 800m yesterday. England could win all but two of the six gold medals available on a day when the home countries will begin a domination of the track and field similar to the one being completed here by Australia.