Commonwealth Games: Bad hair day good as gold for Oakes

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JUDY OAKES yesterday became the oldest woman to win a gold medal in the 68-year history of the Commonwealth Games.

The 40-year-old won her first medal - bronze - in Edmonton in 1978, before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, and when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.

Twenty years, three golds and two silvers later, the veteran shot putter is still on top. But her victory was achieved in bizarre circumstances when her special hairdo went wrong. She had planned to dye her fringe red, white and blue but it came out gold, as did her throw of 18.83 metres, her best of the year.

"It is a wonderful feeling. The hair was not supposed to turn out golden but it is appropriate," she said. "I cannot decide which of the three golds I prefer. This games stands out as the best.

"I just wanted it very badly as it's my last Commonwealth Games. I didn't want to go out on a loss.''

Oakes followed her 1978 games debut with gold in Brisbane, silvers in Edinburgh in 1986 and Auckland in 1990, and then another gold four years ago in Victoria, Canada.

Highlight of the day on the athletics track was the 400-metre victory of Iwan Thomas, who had travelled 20,000 miles in the past fortnight, taking in Moscow and Johannesburg before galloping to success for the first Welsh gold medal.

Elsewhere, England's Leon Griffin, a motor mechanic from Ipswich, won two gold medals in the weightlifting arena with compatriot Stephen Ward making it a hat-trick.

Games reports, page 22