Day five wrap: Pole vaulter stuns with bronze, White Ferns make semis

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 10:51am

Day five wrap: Pole vaulter stuns with bronze, White Ferns make semis

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 10:51am

A full wrap of all the Kiwis in action on day five at the Commonwealth Games.

For the full schedule and results for all the New Zealand teams and athletes, click here.

Shock bronze for Imogen Ayris

Commonwealth Games debutant Imogen Ayris has claimed a shock bronze in the women's pole vault, edging compatriot and training partner Olivia McTaggart for a place on the podium.

Kiwi hopes seemed to rest with McTaggart heading into today's final at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, and those hopes were enhanced when Olympic bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw was ruled out after suffering an injury while warming up.

That left eight athletes in the final and opened the door for either McTaggart or Ayris to open New Zealand's athletics account at these Games.

Imogen Ayris of New Zealand during the women's Pole Vault Final. Photosport

Imogen Ayris of New Zealand during the women's Pole Vault Final. Photosport

The Kiwis' chances further improved early in the competition when defending champion Alysha Newman pulled out after also sustaining an injury, leaving five athletes fighting over three medals.

Once Anicka Newell failed to clear the bar at 4.45m, New Zealand were guaranteed a medal, with McTaggart's personal best of 4.65m - compared to Ayris' 4.50m - making her the likelier option.

But when neither woman was able to clear 4.50m, the 21-year-old Ayris took bronze on a countback, leaving McTaggart to settle for fourth after finishing ninth on the Gold Coast.

NZ win bowls bronze

New Zealand's lawn bowls contingent have won their first medal, claiming bronze in the women's fours.

The New Zealand squad of Selina Goddard, Nicole Toomey, Tayla Bruce and Val Smith beat Fiji 17-6 in the bronze medal match, coming back from an early 4-0 deficit after three ends and a tight 7-6 lead after eight ends to reel off 10 straight points and secure victory.

The Kiwi quartet had qualified top of their pool with two wins and a draw, and beat Botswana 17-13 to move into the semifinals, where they lost 16-13 to India, before impressing in their final match to take bronze.

White Ferns cruise into semifinals

The White Ferns have recovered from trouble in the middle of their innings to secure a semifinal spot at the Commonwealth Games with a comprehensive 45-run win over Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankans put New Zealand under pressure at 89 for five with Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates and Amelia Kerr all back in the pavilion but Brooke Halliday (22 from 23 balls), Lea Tahuhu (20 off eight) and Isabella Grace (16 off 14) got the White Ferns to 147 for seven.

Sri Lanka struggled from the start with Nilakshi de Silva (36 from 35) the only batter in the top eight to reach double figures. Hayley Jensen finished with 3 for 5 from her four overs while Eden Carson to 2-30. New Zealand play England in their final group game with both sides unbeaten and the winner likely to avoid Australia in the semifinals.

Silver Ferns also book semifinal sport

The Silver Ferns retained their perfect record by smashing Trinidad and Tobago 80-24. Goal shoot Grace Nweke finished with 37 goals from 39 attempts in another strong display.

The third win leaves New Zealand level on top of their group with England who they face next. Much like the White Ferns, a win over England will mean likely avoiding Australia in the semifinals.

Thomas can't stop Aussie sweep

Eve Thomas finished fourth in the final of the women's 800m freestyle in Birmingham.

The 21-year-old, born in England, couldn't keep pace with the highly rated Australian trio in the middle of the pool, finishing in a time of 8:32.63, 19.04 seconds behind gold-medal winner Ariarne Titmus.

Thomas is the daughter of former English swimming prodigy Sarah Hardcastle, who in 1984 became the youngest British woman to win an Olympic medal, earning silver in the 400m freestyle aged 15.

The Kiwi set a new personal best in the 800m at the world championships in June, stopping the clock at 8:27.82. She qualified third fastest for the final at Sandwell Aquatics Centre with a time of 8:39.01.

Thomas and Titmus share a coach, Australian Dean Boxall, who caused a stir at last year's Tokyo Olympics with his wild celebrations as his star pupil claimed double freestyle gold.
Thomas, who made her Commonwealth Games debut by finishing ninth in the 200m freestyle, has one more event to come in Birmingham, set to race in the 400m tomorrow.

Cooper out with Covid

Two-time Kiwi Commonwealth Games medallist Anton Cooper will forgo a chance for a third medal after testing positive for Covid-19.

The mountain biker who won gold in 2014 and silver in 2018, after a memorable tussle with teammate Sam Gaze, will not be on the start line in 2022 after withdrawing from the competition a day before the race.

Cooper tested negative on arrival into the athletes' village but began to feel unwell and isolated prior to testing positive.

"I'm absolutely gutted," Cooper said. "I had put a focus on competing in Birmingham over UCI World Cup races that clash. I injured my wrist in a recent World Cup but was preparing well and to miss out like this is really disappointing.

"While I'm feeling a bit under the weather, my symptoms are pretty mild overall – but I just don't think it's going to be good for me to race.

"I've taken so much care not to get Covid for several months, so this is disappointing when it means missing out on representing my country."

Anton Cooper. Photo / Photosport

Anton Cooper. Photo / Photosport

No other New Zealand athletes are symptomatic and Cooper's close contacts have returned multiple negative tests.

New Zealand chef de mission Nigel Avery says Cooper, who was a favourite to win a medal, is being supported well.

"I absolutely feel for Anton, he's a fantastic cyclist and to have to rule himself out like this is gutting. We commend him for his vigilance and thank him for taking immediate steps to isolate, even before he tested positive.

"He's being well supported by the New Zealand team doctors and health team."

Gaze will be joined by Ben Oliver as the two remaining New Zealand representatives in the men's cross country mountain bike race, which gets underway at 10.30pm on Wednesday.

Hobbs sets quick time

Zoe Hobbs has come just 0.01 seconds short of her personal best in moving through to the semifinals of the women's 100m.

Hobbs ran 11.09s to advance with the fifth-best time, 0.1 seconds behind the 10.99s set by Grace Nwokocha and Olympic superstar Elaine Thompson-Herah.

Many of the top sprinters eased off once qualification was assured - Thompson-Herah's PB is 10.54s - and 12 competitors have a better personal best than Hobbs, meaning she will have her work cut out to make the final.

However, after her impressive first-up effort, a spot in the final is a realistic goal for the Kiwi, who will return for the semifinals which start at 6.35am on Thursday.

Wesche looking good for medal

Maddi Wesche has required just one attempt ahead of the women's shot put final on Thursday morning.

Wesche automatically qualified with her first attempt of 18.08cm, though the qualifying round was merely a disguised warm-up offering, with 12 of the 13 athletes advancing to the final.

Wesche was happy with her first attempt, which placed her third of all qualifiers, and it looks like the other contenders will be hard-pressed to beat the top three qualifiers.

So far this season, three shot putters have been far and away the best on display.

Canada's Sarah Mitton has recorded a put of 20.33m this season, with Danniel Thomas-Dodd of Jamaica' season-best being 19.53m, followed by Wesche's best of 19.50m.

No other competitor in the field has managed more than 18.18m this season, and none have ever cracked the 19m mark, signaling the event may be a three-way race for the medals.

Elsewhere, Connor Bell advanced to the final of the men's discus, with a throw of 59.47m placing him sixth. Bell's personal best of 64.29m is the eighth-best in the field, but he has yet to pass 61.17m so far this season. The final is on Thursday morning.

Black Sticks beaten

The Black Sticks women's hockey team have gone down to Australia 1-0 in their third pool match.

After a 16-0 thumping of Kenya and 1-0 win against Scotland, the Kiwis were beaten by the world No 3 Aussies, who had an early goal from Kaitlin Nobbs to thank for the margin of victory.

The Black Sticks still should qualify second from their group and make the semifinals, sitting tied on points with Scotland, but getting to play world No 21 South Africa in their final game, while the Scots have to face Australia.

Elsewhere, boxer Wendell Stanley beat Thabiso Selby (SWZ) 5-0 in his 71kg round of 16 clash while Erin Walsh lost her 57kg round of 16 fight. Weightlifter Hayley Whiting finished fifth in the women's 87kg and the Women's basketball 3x3 side fell short of a bronze medal going down 15-13 to Australia. England beat Canada for the men's 3x3 gold, while Canada, whole New Zealand trounced in pool play, won gold by beating England 14-13 in the women's final.