Fantastic Friday

Jamaicans cop seven medals to increase tally to 22

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Saturday, April 14, 2018

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Gold Coast , Australia — It was a fantastic Friday night for Jamaica inside the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, as the country mined seven medals including two gold, two silver and three bronze as the 21st staging of the Commonwealth Games in Australia nears its end.

Fedrick Dacres, Traves Smikle and Danniel Thomas-Dodd all wrote their names into the history books as they mined silverware in the field events for the country, for the very first time.

The pair of Dacres and Smikle finished first and second, respectively, in the men's discus that Dacres led from his first throw, with Smikle on his tail for most of the competition. The national record holder threw a Games record of 68.20 metres that secured his spot at the top of the podium, while Smikle shrugged off the challenge of Apostolos Parellis of Cyprus when the European threatened to interrupt the first-and second-place finish by the Jamaicans for a brief moment. Smikle's best throw of 63.98m was enough to secure the silver medal as Parellis's best effort of 63.61m was only good enough for bronze.

The women's shot put final proved to be a straight shoot-out between Jamaica's Danniel Thomas-Dodd and three-time defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Adams entered the final in the hunt for a unique piece of history, as she vied to be the first athlete in the history of the Games to win gold four times in a row.

The ladies were tied in distance at one point as they wrestled for top spot in a keen and absorbing contest. Adams went ahead with a season's best 18.70m before Dodd, on her penultimate throw, produced a new Jamaican national record throw of 19.36 metres to go in front for the first time.

Adams had no answer to the fantastic effort from the Jamaican record holder as her reign as “Queen of the shot put in the Commonwealth” came to an abrupt end, so close to home.

Brittany Crew of Canada took the bronze medal with a throw of 18.32m.

In-between the landing of the two gold medals and one silver medal, there was another special moment for Jamaica on the track. Natoya Goule, who has represented Jamaica in the 800m at all the major championships in the last few years, finally had her breakthrough when she won the bronze medal behind the gold medal winner Caster Semenya of South Africa and silver medal winner Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

Semenya controlled the race from early with Wambui trying her best to keep pace. The slight of frame Goule was left back in the middle of the pack, but made a well-timed move to surge past a mass of runners with just under 200m left to run, and never looked back. She threatened to get beyond the Kenyan, who opened up her strides to stave off the best efforts of the little Jamaican in the home stretch. It was a valiant effort from Goule, who had been knocking on the door for a very long time.

Semenya won in a new Games record 1:56.68 minutes, Wambui was second in 1:58.07 minutes, while Goule had a personal best time of 1:58.82 minutes for third.

The women's 100m hurdles final was the event that closed the show. This had been arranged in anticipation of Sally Pearson, the darling of the Gold Coast, who was expected to vie for the gold medal.

Pearson's withdrawal from the Games the day after the opening ceremony came as a big blow to Australia and to the organisers, but opened the door for someone else to take the spotlight.

Jamaica had three representatives in the final, the 2015 World Champion Danielle Williams, World Under-18 champion of 2015, Yanique Thompson, and Olympian Megan Simmonds.

Williams got off to a very good start and led the race up to the seventh hurdle before the Nigerian Oluwa Amusan moved in front and separated herself from the field over the last two hurdles. Amusan came close to the record of 12.64 seconds held by Jamaican Bridgette Foster when she clocked 12.68 seconds to win gold.

Williams was second in 12.78 seconds, while Thompson was third in 12.97 seconds. Simmonds, who hit most of the hurdles, was seventh in 13.18 seconds. It was a brilliant run by the Nigerian, whose foot speed between the hurdles was a sight to behold on her way to gold.

The field events athletes had caused the Jamaican National Anthem to be played twice inside the stadium, but long before that happened the country had earned its first medal of the day when Tevaughn Thomas won bronze in the men's T47 100m final in 11.60 seconds, to set the tone for the evening session for Jamaica.

Suwalbidu Galadima of Nigeria won in a speedy 11.04 seconds, while James Arnott of England was second in 11.30 seconds. It was a truly special moment for the Paralympians, who got to perform in front of a capacity crowd of more than 35,000.

The shortened morning session, earlier in the day, saw the men's 4x100m relay team advancing to the final when they finished second behind England. The 4x400m relay team won heat two to qualify for their final as well, while the female relays will be run as straight finals on Saturday night (Saturday morning Jamaica time).

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