Swimming: Australian men fail again as British turn world upside down
Tuesday 21 March 2006
Even with a gold won by a woman who was a member of the British team a year ago, Australia's swimmers go into the final day of Commonwealth Games competition 14-13 down in the gold medal stakes against the joint efforts of England and Scotland. The Aussie men have yet to strike gold, which left Michael Klim clutching at straws after finishing runner-up in the 100m butterfly final yesterday.
"Have a look at him," Klim said, gesturing towards the triumphant Ryan Pini. "He's as Australian as they come." Sure, Pini does live and train in Brisbane. When he stepped on to the rostrum to collect his gold medal, though, he was wearing the tracksuit of Papua New Guinea. So that's PNG 1 Australia 0 - on the men's front, at any rate.
In Scotland's case, the minnows are threatening to become giants of the aquatic world. Of the four golds won by British swimmers yesterday, two were added to a Scottish tally that now stands at six. That is three times as many as any Scottish swim team has earned at any other Commonwealth Games, and precisely the same as the total gathered in all sports by Scotland in Manchester four years ago.
On Sunday, David Carry became the first Scot to complete a Commonwealth double since David Wilkie in 1974 and they did the feat again yesterday, twice.
First Caitlin McClatchey added 400m freestyle gold to the 200m free variety she plundered on opening night, edging out England's Jo Jackson by 0.67sec. "I'm overwhelmed," McClatchey said. "I didn't expect to win one gold medal."
Gregor Tait was shocked too, having followed his victory in the 200m backstroke on Saturday with success in the 200m individual medley yesterday. "Unbelievable!" he said. "I didn't think I'd win gold." That he did so bore testament to the coaching ability of Dave Haller, the Englishman who guided Wilkie to Olympic gold, and whose training stable at the City of Cardiff club also includes David Davies, the Welshman who starts red-hot favourite for the 1500m freestyle today.
England's gold tally in the pool is up to eight, Chris Cook completing a double with victory ahead of team-mate Darren Mew in the 50m breaststroke and Liam Tancock winning the 100m backstroke. Tait took the bronze medal in that race and there was also a bronze for Scotland's Kirsty Balfour in the women's 100m breaststroke, in which Liesel Jones broke the world record with 1min 05.09sec.
Australia's men might have drawn a blank thus far but their women have won 13 of 16 events - including the 200m backstroke. Success in that final came courtesy of Joanna Fargus, a medal winner for England in Manchester four years ago. Having switched allegiance to the land of her Brisbane mother, she triumphed in the green and gold, ahead of her erstwhile team-mate, Mel Marshall.
"It was amazing to go out there and swim for Australia," Fargus said. "I've always felt Australian." Unlike Ryan Pini, the golden boy of PNG.
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