Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kipsiro relishes golden race

Uganda's Moses Kipsiro took the first athletics gold of the Commonwealth Games after workers triumphed in their own desperate race to repair the track and get the infield ready at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Wednesday's other big winner was Leisel Jones who grabbed her eighth career Commonwealth Games gold on as six titles in the pool kept Australia clear of hosts India at the top of the medal table on the third day of competition in Delhi.

India's sharpshooters, wrestlers and weightlifters gave the host nation six golds on day three, Gagan Narang and Anisa Sayyid both collecting their second of the Games on the shooting range and an African swimmer won a rare major competition gold for the continent in the pool.

Problems, though, continued to dog organisers but the first evening of the athletics got under way on schedule, albeit in front of a sparse crowd, after an army of workers toiled night and day at the stadium to fix damage caused during Sunday's opening ceremony.

“There was some damage to the athletics track and the in-field was in very poor condition and some general cleaning-up (had) to be done and the workers responded to this overnight,” said Michael Fennell, head of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Three hours before the eight-day athletics competition began an army of workers was still struggling to prepare the shot put ring, erect the net around the hammer ring, put up hoardings, and assemble the medal podiums.

One group were shovelling buckets of thick mud out of the steeplechase water jump and using a cycle-wheelbarrow contraption to ferry it away.

Kipsiro outsprinted Kenyan former world champion Eliud Kipchoge over the last lap to win the 5 000m on the track but the day belonged to the green and gold clad swimmers of Australia.

Jones led a podium sweep for her country in the 200m breaststroke to become the 10th most successful athlete in Games history, just two medals short of fellow Australian swimmers Ian Thorpe and Susie O'Neill who share the biggest career hauls.

The three-times Olympic champion was pushed all the way by 17-year-old Tessa Wallace but stormed home to win by 0.22 seconds.

“It was a very tough race. To get away with a win here is great,” Jones, 25, said.

Emily Seebohm, who is competing in eight events in Delhi, got her first gold in the 100 backstroke after finishing second behind compatriot Alicia Coutts in the 100 freestyle, while Matthew Cowdrey won the men's 50 freestyle for para-athletes.

Wins in the relays combined with three golds on the cycling track and three in gymnastics contributed to Australia's total tally of 21.

India are second with 11 golds, England third with six while Malaysia and South Africa share fourth with three.

While Kenyans were expected to be among the medal contenders of an athletics competition missing big names like sprinters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, they were not expected to take any in the pool.

Jason Dunford bucked those expectations with his victory in the men's 50 metres butterfly, his country's first Commonwealth Games swimming medal.

“There are a lot of Kenyans in the crowd tonight and to hear the anthem, it's amazing,” he said. - Reuters

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