Delhi belly hits England's dream of making a big splash in the pool

Halsall collapses after only getting bronze in strongest event as sickness also threatens Adlington's hopes
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The Independent Online

The bug in the England swimming squad is catching. Sadly, the gold medal-winning habit is not doing quite the same.

After the gold rush of Tuesday, when Fran Halsall and Liam Tancock emerged happy and glorious for England from the Commonwealth Games pool – and Robbie Renwick did likewise for Scotland – the expected flood of British success slowed to a trickle at the Dr SP Mukherjee Aquatic Complex yesterday. England's James Goddard did manage to win the opening final of the day, the 50m butterfly, setting a Games record of 55.58sec in the process. Thereafter, however, it was a tale of sickness and woe.

Halsall collapsed after struggling to claim bronze in her strongest event, the 100m freestyle and bombed out in the semi-finals of the 100m butterfly. Rebecca Adlington revealed that she, too, was suffering from a dose of "Delhi Belly" – just 24 hours before her big race of the Games, the 800m freestyle final today. Then it emerged that 20 per cent of the England swim team had been afflicted by the illness.

Halsall struck gold in the 50m butterfly on Tuesday despite the initial onset of her tummy troubles, but the Southport swimmer was so badly stricken yesterday she trailed in behind the Australian duo Alicia Coutts and Emily Seebohm in the final of the 100m free, the event in which she took silver at the world championships in Rome last year and in which she started a clear favourite here. The 20-year-old collapsed, had to be helped out of the pool and was led away by the England team doctor, Ian Gordon, before being sick.

She was shivering and looking thoroughly washed out when she appeared before the media. "I had nothing to give today," Halsall said. "I had tummy issues last night and they carried on through today. I pretty much couldn't stand up after my final."

Adlington won her morning 800m heat but was clearly below par in the afternoon 4x200m freestyle relay final, as the England quartet finished down in third, behind Australia and New Zealand. "Most of the girls have got it," the double Olympic champion said. "I can't eat and I'm going to the toilet every few minutes."

John Atkinson, the England team leader, said: "About 20 per cent of the team of 45 have had something." It could have been worse. An unidentified athlete from the Falkland Islands was in a Delhi hospital yesterday, reported to be suffering from suspected dengue fever.

In the pool, the big disappointment – other than Halsall's 100m freestyle bronze – was Gemma Spofforth's defeat in the 100m backstroke. The world champion and world-record holder faded badly over the homecoming stretch, losing out to Seebohm, who won by 0.23sec in a Games record 59.79sec. "I'm cross with myself," Spofforth said. "I came here to win."

The silver medals won by the Scottish men's 4x200m freestyle team were more warmly welcomed. The quartet – Andrew Hunter, David Carry, Jak Scott and Renwick – held off South Africa to finish runners-up to the favoured Australians. The Aussies also won the women's 4x200m free, in which Adlington teamed up with Jo Jackson, Emma Saunders and Sasha Matthews to take bronze for England.

Away from the pool, for Team England there was shooting gold in the men's double trap for Steven Scott and Stevan Walton plus a 58kg weightlifting bronze for 16-year-old Zoe Smith. For the Isle on Man, at the velodrome, there was a bronze medal for Mark Christian in the 40km points race.

Delhi Diary: What to watch

11.58am: Freestyle finals

The highlight of today's seven finals in the pool is the men's 100m freestyle, featuring English hopefuls Simon Burnett and Adam Brown. Then all eyes turn to Becky Adlington, who will need to overcome the bug affecting the England camp in the freestyle final, where she will be joined by compatriot Sasha Matthews and Scotland's Megan Gilchrist.

1.10pm: Vaulting to victory?

In gymnastics, England's Imogen Cairns, already a silver medallist in the artistic team competition, will be looking to go one further and win gold on the vault.

3.05pm: Sprint finish

The most eagerly anticipated event of the day is the men's 100m final. English sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis ran a seasonal best 10.15sec in yesterday's heats, but will need to improve on that to claim a medal this afternoon.

Benji Inwood

TV 8-11am, 1-2.15pm, BBC 2. 11am-1pm, 2.15-5pm, BBC 1. Highlights: 7-8pm BBC 2. Additional coverage on BBCi.