Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jones equals 10-gold record at Commonwealth Games

Leisel Jones watched backstroke teammate Emily Seebohm touch the wall at the Commonwealth Games pool on Saturday, then plunged off the deck and into her breaststroke leg of the Australian team’s 4x100-meter medley relay.

Powering through the water, she raced her two laps of the pool, then watched as butterfly specialist Jessicah Schipper and then freestyler Alicia Coutts completed an easy first-place finish and an Australian gold medal at the Dr. Dr. S.P. Makherjee Aquatic Complex in suburban New Delhi.

Easy enough, but this one was special for Jones: her 10th gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, equaling a record career haul held by two other Australian swim stars, Ian Thorpe and Susie O’Neill.

The 25-year-old three-time Olympic champion won three gold medals in her first games at Manchester in 2002, had four in Melbourne in 2006 and in New Delhi this week won the 100 and 200 breaststroke before her medley relay gold.

“I have a feeling the team will do it for her,” O’Neill said from an Australian television network’s broadcast podium before the night’s finals.

Jones, who has won seven world titles since joining the Australian swim team at the age of 14, said it was special knowing O’Neill was in the building.

“Susie was here and saw the race and she was very gracious,” said Jones. “It was very special.”

Jones said it was good to share the record-equaling experience with her teammates.

“It was lovely,” Jones said. “We all love swimming the medley relays. It was a great way to top off for me. It’s good to be on a nice round number.”

Jones said she might not be around when the Commonwealth Games go to Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.

“I don’t know about that,” Jones said. “It is a lot of fun but my main competition is not really here.”

Jones will likely get a chance to test herself against the “main competition”—the United States—in Shanghai, China next year at the world championships and in 2012 at the London Olympics.

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