Sunday, October 10, 2010

Australians Win Fan-Free Road Races At Comm Games

Tight security featuring gun-toting police on top of steel barricades kept most of the spectators away during a Commonwealth Games women's cycling road race won by Rochelle Gilmore of Australia on Sunday.
It was a perfect day for the race — moderate temperatures, sunny skies and a scenic course through some of the most picturesque parts of downtown New Delhi, including the famous India Gate and Presidential Palace. Even a dog and a monkey sighted on the course didn't bother the competitors.

Gilmore won in a sprint finish in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds. Elizabeth Armistead of England was second and another Australian, Chloe Hosking, took bronze.

Another Australian, Allan Davis, won the men's road race of 168 kilometers (103 miles) later Sunday in a sprint finish over Hayden Roulston of New Zealand in a time of 3:40.48. David Millar of Scotland took bronze. Pre-race favorite and Tour de France sprinter Mark Cavendish finished seventh.

But the morning race, staged over eight laps of a 13.7-kilometer (8.45-mile) course, was almost devoid of fans. Television footage showed mostly soldiers and other security officials standing behind the fenced and barrier-laden course.

The lack of crowds didn't bother Gilmore.

"Perhaps it was for the best in terms of security," she said. "We knew a lot of spectators would be watching us on TV."

Gilmore's victory comes after Australian cyclists won 12 of 14 gold medals on the track.

It was a Kiplagat kind of evening at the nearly full Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where 800-meter runner Boaz Kiplagat Lalang led the way to win gold in 1 minute, 46.60 seconds. Richard Kiplagat was next in 1:46.95 and Abraham Kiplagat took bronze in 1:47.37.

David Greene of Wales surprised defending champion Louis van Zyl in the men's 400 hurdles, beating the South African to the finish line in 48.52 seconds. Van Zyl was second in 48.63 and Rhys Williams of Wales took bronze in 49.19.

In the women's 400 hurdles, Muizat Ajoke Odumosu of Nigeria won in 55.28, followed by Eilidh Child of Scotland in 55.62 and Nickiesha Wilson of Jamaica in 56.06.

Nicole Forrester of Canada won the women's high jump, clearing 1.91 meters. The men's discus gold medal went to Benn Harradine of Australia, who threw 65.45 meters.

Diving began its four-day run and Canada took both golds Sunday.

Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans won the women's 3-meter synchro. Australians took the other medals — Briony Cole and Sharleen Stratton the silver and Jaele Patrick and Olivia Wright the bronze.

Alexandre Despatie defended his title in the 1-meter springboard by taking gold later Sunday. One of the biggest names in the diving competition — Olympic 10-meter platform champion Matthew Mitcham of Australia — won the silver.

It was Despatie's record seventh gold Commonwealth Games gold for Canada. His first came in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when he was 13.

"It feels like a long time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday," said Despatie. "Hopefully I have a bit more to give. At 25 years of age it's weird being called a veteran."

Meanwhile, organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said a volunteer on the organizing committee had been reported to police over the alleged sale of counterfeit tickets. Local media also reported that two people were arrested for scalping games tickets and that some games credentials were also sold illegally.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell said 850 of the planned 1,500 doping tests at the games had been conducted, and that 600 tests that have been returned were all negative.

There was a positive tone Sunday from Bhubaneswar Kalita, India's chef de mission. Despite a host of problems at the Commonwealth Games — late construction of venues, transportation and security concerns and clogged roads — Kalita said he remained optimistic that India would one day hold an Olympics.

"Yes, our good performance and hosting games like this will definitely step forward (the bid) to host the Olympics in India," Kalita said.

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