By Grace Kalac – Reporting from the Gold Coast – Runner’s Tribe
The Australian 20km racewalkers have set an optimistic tone for the rest of the 2018 Commonwealth Games athletics team, finishing this morning’s competition with gold in both the men’s and women’s events.
The racewalking, held at Gold Coast’s Currumbin Beachfront, commenced with the men’s event.
Dane Bird-Smith captured a thrilling four-second-win over England’s Tom Bosworth in a Commonwealth Games record time of 1:19:34.
Bird-Smith, Rio Olympic 20km racewalk bronze medallist, celebrated across the line with his renowned ‘Birdman’ hand gesture. The 25-year-old thanked the roaring Australian crowd, which included his Olympian father and coach Dave, for spurring him on. Michael Hosking (10th, 1:25:35) and Rhydian Cowley (11th, 1:26:12) rounded out the Aussie contingent.
The women’s race was a thrilling affair, with underdog Jemima Montag snagging the gold medal in 1:32:50.
Montag took an early lead over racewalking veteran Claire Tallent. Tallent, an Olympian, soon made ground and put her body on the line for the elusive gold medal. The two battled it out, with Tallent taking a slight lead in the later stages of the event. But in heartbreaking fashion she was disqualified from the event with just two kilometres remaining.
Montag, who has idolised 36-year-old Tallent from a young age, finished strong to claim the gold medal in her first major international championship.
Despite her devastation, Tallent embraced her teammate Montag post-race and spoke highly of the 20-year-old’s future in the sport. New Zealand athlete Alana Barber took the silver medal. Barber and Montag are close training partners who share the same coach, Brent Vallance. Fellow Australian Beki Smith finished 6th, clocking 1:40:41.
The track and field program commences this afternoon at Carrara Stadium. Today’s highlights include:
2.05pm Women’s 100m: Melissa Breen
2.45pm Men’s 100m: Trae Williams, Rohan Browning, Josh Clarke
3.45pm Men’s 400m: Steve Solomon
4.35pm Men’s 5000m: Stewart McSweyn, Morgan McDonald, David McNeill