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brits scale new heights at glasgow 2014

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Steve Lewis Luke Cutts
1 August 2014

It was night of highs for the British contingent at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with six further medals, including a double delight in the men’s pole vault.

After winning bronze in 2006 and silver in Delhi four years ago, Steve Lewis (Dan Pfaff) finally got to stand on the top step of the podium as he pushed his England teammate Luke Cutts (Trevor Fox) into second place at the end of a spell-binding men’s pole vault competition.

The English duo both cleared 5.55m at the first time of asking, but after three failures at 5.60m it went to sudden death. Neither of them could go over 5.60m with their fourth attempt, so the bar was lowered to 5.55m, which Lewis cleared for the second time of the night to win gold.

"Getting the set of Commonwealth medals was a big goal – 2006 was such a surprise, I got close in Delhi and just to have the set is amazing. I think the end of 2012 was really tough for me with a bunch of family things that happened – 2013 I was running on nothing and was emotionally drained. It’s testament to the people who didn't write me off in 2013. This year I’ve settled down, I’ve got a new set-up in America and a base I can build off. I’m just so happy that I can look forward to Rio now."

Despite missing out on gold in such dramatic fashion, Cutts was happy with his first major championship medal:

"I said before I got here that any medal would do and silver isn’t just any medal! It could have been gold but it could have been nothing and I've got a lot more to be happy about than disappointed about. The atmosphere was brilliant, the best I've ever experienced as an athlete. I’m used to jumping in big competitions but they aren’t as good as that."

Scotland’s Jax Thoirs (Pat Licari) came within centimetres of ensuring a British 1-2-3, as he brushed the bar with his final attempt at 5.55m, ending the competition in fourth. Team Wales’ Paul Walker (Scott Simpson) also put in a terrific display, equalling his season’s best with a 5.35m vault to take fifth. There was however disappointment for Gregor McLean (Alan Richardson) who injured himself in warm up and Max Eaves (Kate Dennison) who failed to register a height.

“It does not feel real” said Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) on the conclusion of her lap of honour after winning 800m silver much to the delight of the home crowd. Vowing to bounce back from a poor run last night, Sharp ran the perfect race, sitting just outside the medals, knowing she could strike when the time was right.

And strike she did. In fourth place with 120m to run, the European champion put her foot on the gas, moving through for silver and closing down winner Eunice Sum of Kenya all the way. The crowd went wild. Post-race, Sharp couldn’t hold back the tears, showing how much this meant to her.

“The past year has been a nightmare for me with injuries and illnesses and I wasn’t at all well through the night. But I just came down to me having one shot at it – for two minutes. And I’ve made it onto the podium for a silver medal.”

There were tears of another kind for Jess Judd (Rob Denmark) who ran a great race but finished in what they always dub as the worst position, fourth. Her Team England compatriot Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) was also in the mix, finishing sixth in 2.02.19.

There was a further silver medal for Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) in evening’s finale. She went head to head with Australia’s Olympic champion Sally Pearson, and the race didn’t disappoint. Pearson perhaps got the better start, but Porter was on her shoulder all the way, ready to pounce. In the end though, the Team England athlete had to settle for silver, her 12.80 clocking just 0.13 down on Pearson.

“I am really happy to come away with a medal and I’m glad to have executed when it really mattered. It was a big blur, everything happened so fast. Hurdle ten was not the best, I sort of clipped it, and it wasn’t the most perfectly executed race but I am just happy to have a medal. Some days you are at your best and some days you are not but every day is a new race and even though I lost today I am looking to redeem myself and get to the top of the podium because I have never got gold before.”

There was also a surprise silver medal for Isobel Pooley (Fuzz Ahmed) in an enthralling women’s high jump final. It was an impeccable series for Pooley who cleared every single bar at the first time of asking, including a new lifetime best of 1.92m. It took a 1.94m clearance by eighteen year old Australian Eleanor Patterson to deny Pooley gold, but she was over the moon with silver.

"I can’t believe it, it feels so surreal – I had to ask the official, did I clear that? My coach said just focus and execute what we’ve been doing and it’s a credit to what a fantastic coach he is that I just did as he said – it was a leap of faith and I barely felt it. I’ve never ever been in the mix for a medal before, so it’s been a completely new experience in terms of self-belief to come here and think I could medal. I dared to dream of gold - I’m not ashamed of that but I’m not ashamed I didn't get it because I got a PB. A silver in my first ever Commonwealths gives me somewhere to go next time. I’ve given myself something to celebrate and I’ll go back to the village with pride."

Earlier in the competition, Team Scotland’s Jayne Nisbett (Graham Ravenscroft) had three failures at 1.81m, ending her competition.

There was yet another Team England medal, this time for Jade Lally (Andrew Neal) in the discus. All the talk is of execution these days, and that’s exactly what Lally did, throwing a season’s best of 60.48 in the fifth round, to secure bronze, another surprise British medal.

"It feels weird – I almost felt like an intruder going round the track on a lap of honour, I kept expecting someone to come and ask me to leave! The competition was unbelievable – it was probably one of my best ever. The gold was pretty wrapped up but I’d done my homework and second looked doable but would take a good throw but I’m really happy with bronze. I think that’s one of the further throws for a medal in recent Commonwealth Games, so it’s good times."

In the same competition, Eden Francis (Gladys Morton) backed up her good showing in the shot put with seventh, whilst Kirsty Law (Jim Edwards) finished eleventh.

Earlier this summer James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) ran the fastest time by a British steeplechaser for twenty years, and this evening he got within two seconds of that, with an impressive fifth place finish. With Kenyan’s filling the top three places it was fast from the off, but Wilkinson ran a measured race, chasing Canada’s Matt Hughes all the way to cross the line in 8.24.98. Luke Gunn (Bud Baldaro) also ran well for seventh, with Stephen Lisgo (Townsend) of Scotland finishing eighth.

The other track final of the night was the men’s 10,000m, which contained a plethora of British athletes. Leading the way was Team Scotland’s Andrew Lemoncello who clocked a season’s best of 28.36.63 in twelfth. Two places further back was Luke Caldwell, with both he and Wales’ Adam Bitchell (James Thie), who was one place further back, running personal bests of 28.47.39 and 28.47.94 respectively.

The men’s 1500m heats got the evenings track action underway, where it was the first four in each of the two heats, plus the four fastest who progressed to tomorrow’s final. Lee Emanuel (Joe Franklin) decided to run from the front in heat one, but it was Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) who ran the smartest race, to bag the last of the automatic spots. Emmanuel, Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman), Richard Peters (Mike Down) and Daniel Mooney all missed out.

In heat two, young Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) ran an extremely composed race, making all the right moves to take second and make sure of his final place. There was also a late surge by Chris Gowell (Steve Sisson) who snatched fourth on the line, meaning there will be an Englishman, Scotsman and Welshman in the men’s 1500m. David Bishop (Thie) of Team Scotland missed out in that one.

A Team England quartet of Emily Diamond (Dan Cossins), Shana Cox (George Williams), Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) and Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) qualified fastest for tomorrow’s 4x400m final, but there was disappointment for Team Scotland as their quartet of Kirsten McAslen (Trevor Painter), Diane Ramsey (Rodger Harkins), Gemma Nicol (Piotr Haczek) and
Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna) missed out on a final spot by just 0.24 of a second.

The only British interest in the men’s 4x400m relay qualifying came in a loaded final heat, featuring England, Scotland and Jamaica. It was a dominant performance by Daniel Awde (Christie), Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley), Nigel Levine (Christie) and Conrad Williams (Christie) to hold off Jamaica and take victory. However it was the Team Scotland quartet of Kris Robertson, Jamie Bowie, Greg Louden (all Haczek) and Grant Plenderleith who had the most to shout about, despite a third place finish. Their finishing time of 3.03.94 saw them progress as fastest losers, but more importantly it broke the 24 year old national record set at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990.

The job in hand for Team England’s 4x100m team was to get the baton round and finish in the top two, and that’s exactly what they did. James Ellington, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty (all Reider) and Andrew Robertson (Cossins) combined with ease, and some nice changeovers led to victory in heat three with a 38.78 time.

In the women’s equivalent, Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker), Anyika Onoura (Reider), Louise Bloor (Toni Minichiello)and Ashleigh Nelson (Michael Afilaka) were the chosen four, and they got the job done, finishing second to Jamaica in 43.33. There was disappointment for Team Wales, as after securing a fastest losers spot, they were disqualified for an invalid change.

Phillips Idowu (Gary Bourne) showed he is ready to challenge for Glasgow 2014 gold, as he need just one jump to qualify for tomorrow’s final with the second longest jump of the night.
Joining him will be compatriots Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore) and Nathan Fox (Frank Attoh).

Lee Doran (Chris Watts) was the only British man to advance to the men’s javelin final, the Welshman throwing 75.82m to finish eighth out of the two pools. Team Scotland’s James Campbell (David Parker) missed out by just one spot, with Joe Dunnerdale (Mick Hill) and Benji Pearson (Parker) further back.