Commonwealth Games 2014: Siobhan O’Connor and Fran Halsall’s swimming wins lead British redemption

This has been a meeting dominated by Australia, but they always have come out on top at the Commonwealth Games and always will

Tollcross

On one of the side of the Tollcross pool stood Jon Rudd, arms folded. On the other sat Bill Furniss, arms folded. The head coaches of England and Great Britain respectively are not given to public displays of emotion – that is not what swimming coaches do – but there may well have been a few metaphorical punches of the air last night as England claimed two gold medals and then Scotland pushed Australia to the limits in a rousing final event of the night, the 200m freestyle relay.

This has been a meeting dominated by Australia, but they always have come out on top at the Commonwealth Games and always will. They are enjoying a redemptive week in Glasgow – and so are the British swimmers divided among the home nations. The  Commonwealths have become a psychiatrist’s couch where the failures of the London Olympics can be talked out without the weight of the whole world watching.

It was a good night for England and in particular Fran Halsall. Medal-less in London, she shot down the pool to win the 50m fly with an improbable amount of breathing space over such a short distance. It was her second gold in two days and came minutes after Siobhan O’Connor collected her fifth medal of the Games and a first gold with a commanding performance in the 200m individual medley, leading from start to finish to leave Alicia Coutts of Australia and Scotland’s Hannah Miley to contest silver and bronze.

It was the best swim of her young life and another sign of potentially brighter times to come. London was a disaster for Britain and Australia and both have undergone regime changes. Furniss, the man who steered Rebecca Adlington to her Olympic triumphs, took over as Britain’s head coach.

 

“We are all chuffed to bits because collectively, not just as England but as Britain with the Welsh results and the  Scottish results we have been doing amazingly,” said O’Connor, who now has a gold, three silvers and a bronze to her 18-year-old name.

“Australia came in ranked so far above us but we have put up such a good fight and had amazing results across the British swimmers. In the  England team there is such a good vibe and I’m really happy and proud to be part of it. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. My coach said to me I was just one race away from making it a better Games than I could have ever imagined.” Erraid Davies, aged just 13 and from the Shetland Isles, won bronze in the para-sport 100m breaststroke Erraid Davies, aged just 13 and from the Shetland Isles, won bronze in the para-sport 100m breaststroke

Her winning time of 2.08.21 was four seconds faster than she managed at last year’s World Championships. There are tougher tests ahead but the direction of travel looks good, as it does for Adam Peaty, another teenager already with a gold tucked inside his trunks who chases another in the 50m breaststroke tonight.

A truer test of the  Australians’ progress comes in next month’s Pan-Pacific Championships, where their medal winners here will be confronted by the formidable US. There was much soul searching after a solitary gold in London and a review of what went wrong, revealing a “toxic culture” within the team of late nights and indiscipline – the sort of behaviour that when you are winning is high jinks, when you are losing is a sporting death sentence for those in charge.

The man brought in to sort it out was Jacco Verthaeren, the Dutch coach behind Pieter van den Hoogenband’s sustained success. Last night they collected four golds, notably for James Magnussen, who led home a one-two-three in the 100m freestyle. They were then given an almighty scare by the home nation in the relay before Thomas Fraser-Holmes swam clear of Robbie Renwick on the final length.

The other English success came via a bronze for Liam Tancock in the 50m backstroke, while Scotland’s other medal was a bronze won in the para-sport 100m breaststroke where Erraid Davies, a 13-year-old from the Shetland Islands, took bronze. She looked  startled at her achievement. “I really don’t know how to tell my school friends,” she said. She became her country’s youngest ever medallist.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
health
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch films his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
film
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London