Peaty bounces back with gold; McKeon sets another record
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — English swimmer Adam Peaty turned a testing Commonwealth Games around with a resounding triumph in the 50-meter breaststroke final on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Peaty, who was beaten for the first time in eight years in the 100-meter breaststroke on Sunday, had vowed to bounce back after a loss he described as devastating.
He did so in style, winning the 50 in 26.76 seconds.
Peaty, who missed the world championships in Budapest in June with a broken foot, revealed last week he was struggling for motivation after a decade of success.
But the victory clearly meant a great deal to the three-time Olympic gold medalist. It is the only major international event he had not claimed.
“After the 100-meter, I was the lowest of the low,” Peaty said. “I had something that was almost guaranteed taken away from me.
“But I knew this was going to be my last Commonwealths so today was the day to do it. I’ve completed the whole collection now. It is a sweet victory for me.”
Australian swimmer Emma McKeon, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, become the all-time most successful Commonwealth Games athlete after another strong night in the pool.
The 28-year-old McKeon drew level with South African swimmer Chad le Clos and shooters Michael Gault and Phil Adams by winning an 18th medal with a bronze in the 100-meter freestyle.
She set a new mark of 19 when she claimed her fifth gold medal for the Birmingham Games as part of Australia’s mixed 4x100-meter medley relay team, extending her record of 13 career gold medals across three games.
“I am proud,” McKeon said. “The medals are rewarding obviously, it’s what we train for.
“But for me the most rewarding thing this year is being able to keep myself together for the week.”
In a dominant gymnastics display from England, there were two standout male performers.
Jake Jarman won his fourth gold medal of the meet with a victory in the vault.
“You can be under just as much pressure at a smaller competition as well as a competition this big,” the 20-year-old Jarman said. “But to be able to come here and enjoy it and produce an amazing result. I am absolutely honored.”
Jarman’s teammate Joe Fraser managed to overcome recent injury and illness to win three gold medals in Birmingham.
Three years after winning a world championship on the parallel bars, the 23-year-old Fraser became the first English gymnast to win the event in the Commonwealth Games.
What makes Fraser’s success more extraordinary is that he limped into the athletes’ village before the Games wearing a moon boot after breaking his foot two weeks ago.
Just one month earlier, he ruptured his appendix. But inspired by competing in front of his home crowd, Fraser delivered world-class performances.
“We have got Lion on our leotard and our chest, so I guess I feel pride,” he said.
India won its first-ever gold medal in lawn bowls and also won the table tennis men’s team gold, but had to settle for silver in the badminton mixed team competition after losing an almost four-hour final to Malaysia.
The Indian quartet of Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Rupa Rani Tirkey defeated South Africa 17-10 in the Women’s Fours event in the bowls.
Tirkey said the foursome awoke motivated by the opportunity to create history for their nation.
“I didn’t get adequate sleep last night because I was nervous whether we would win the gold or lose the gold,” she said. “Thoughts like these keep swirling in your head all night when you play a game of this magnitude.
“We woke up with the mindset that this is a new day, a new beginning, and that we have the opportunity to do something very special. We are glad to have been able to achieve that.”
India’s men’s table tennis team defended the gold medal it won in 2018 by defeating Singapore 3-1 in the final.
Harmeet Desai partnered Sathiyan Gnanasekaran to win and then proved too strong for Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in the third singles to clinch victory.
“It was my time to prove it, to prove my worth and I’m happy I could win this match,” he said.
On the opening day in track and field, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah confirmed she was the sprinter to beat in Birmingham by winning her 100-meter heat in 10.99 seconds.
The two-time Olympic champion in the event finished behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in a Jamaican sweep of the 100 medals at the world championships last month.
Thompson-Herah, the co-fastest qualifier for Wednesday’s semifinals alongside Nigeria’s Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, is confident she can reclaim her best form in Birmingham.
“I will work my way back up to the top,” she said. My plans “are to have fun, smile, breath and just run.”
Fraser-Pryce is in Birmingham but has opted against competing. She is preparing for the remainder of the season with her coach Reynaldo Walcott, who has other athletes competing in Birmingham.
After five days of competition, Australia led the medal standings with 42 gold and 106 overall. England was next with 31 gold and 86 medals overall, followed by New Zealand with 13 gold, Canada with 11, South Africa with 6 and India with 5 gold medals.
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