Greg Rutherford continued his year of redemption by winning Commonwealth gold as he went the distance on Wednesday’s field bonanza at Hampden Park.
Leading in all but one round, Rutherford showed that his recent injury problems were under wraps to take victory in front of a home crowd just as he had done so famously at London 2012.
Having led after posting an opening jump of 8.12m, the Englishman was forced to react almost instantly as South Africa’s Zarck Visser equalled the distance to go clear on count back. Spurred on by being over taken, it took Rutherford just one leap to respond, as he went out to a competition winning 8.20m in a -0.7 headwind. Behind him and Vissier in 3rd was another Springbok Rushwahl Samaai.
Speaking afterwards, Rutherford said: “It’s a fantastic feeling this is ultimately why we do it, to stand on top of the podium I luckily did what I needed to do today to win. It obviously wasn’t the most incredible performance in the world in terms of distance, it was pretty chilly out there we had a few spots of rain but to come away with the gold medal I’ve over the moon!”
He will now be full of confidence as he heads to Zurich in 2 weeks in his attempt to claim second championship gold of the season with victory in the European Championships. Despite the potential of double gold alongside his British record this season, The Olympic champion maintains that 2012 will always be his greatest year: “I know that sounds pretty good on paper winning a couple of majors and jumping 5.51, nothing will come close to that night in 2012, even if I defend my title in 2016, that night was truly special. This was good and this year was always looking likely to be great, but nothing will come close!”
Away from the field, Kirani James ran a Commonwealth record 44.24 to win the 400m in style. Expected to win from the start, James was pushed harder than many would have expected, as South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk ran out his skin for the first 300m threatened to ruin the Grenadian’s party, before the Olympic champion showed his class to pull away, Lalonde Gordon was 3rd ahead a very disappointed Michael Rooney in 4th.
Another favourite to deliver on her pre-event expectation was Brianne Theison-Eaton, who finally claimed her first major championship gold following two consecutive silvers at the World Indoor and Outdoor championships. Leading home a Canadian 1-2, the multi-eventer displayed her class throughout, winning 5 out of the 7 events including victory in the 800m as she won by a convincing margin over the hurdles converted Jessica Zelinka.
There was also an excellent bronze for England’s Jessica Taylor as she excelled in the absence of her better-known training partner Katrina Johnson-Thompson.
Speaking about her achievement, Taylor revealed how she had bought Heptathlon tickets before hand, not expecting to make the championships: “[It’s] incredible, I can’t believe I just got a medal, we actually bought tickets to come watch the heptathlon, so now my cousin’s actually taken my seat, and I can’t believe I’ve actually made it here, never mind getting a medal.
“I put 444 points on my PB just to get the Qualifying standard, so to even be here I was chuffed and to get the bronze here was incredible, I saw my mum and Dad in the crowd and I just started crying.”
Theison-Eaton’s victory was one of two for Canada as the North American nation once more proved to be one of the strongest team’s on the night.
Taking their second Gold was Derek Drouin in the High Jump. Having cleared 2.40m earlier this season Drouin was always likely to be a class above his opponents and that was how it turned out to be, winning the competition as the only to go over 2.31m, behind him Cypriot Kyriakos Ioannou took silver, compatriot Michael Mason just held of England’s Chris Baker for bronze by virtue of a first time clearance at 2.25m. Drouin’s night was even more bittersweet but three failures at 2.37 meant he didn’t claim a new Commonwealth record.
One athlete who did break a games record was Kim Mickle of Australia who won the women’s Javelin with her second round throw of 65.96m. Unsurprisingly, her Oceania counterpart Valerie Adams also prevailed in the Shot Put to claim her 3rd Commonwealth title and her 54th straight competitive victory, although there was to be no 20 metre throw for the New Zealander, he winning distance was 19.88m.
An excellent evening in the field was preceded by an epic battle on the track, where the Kenya women once more kicked off the evening’s action with a clean sweep on the track, this time in the 3k steeplechase, despite the best efforts from spirited Australian Madeline Heiner who had led at the bell.
Victory on this occasion went to Purity Kirui who recovered from a stumble on the last hurdle to out-sprint defending champion Milcah Chemos and clock 9:31.30, completing the set was Joan Kipkemoi.
The evening closed with the men’s 800m semi-finals and the women’s 200m heats.
In the 800m, the Olympic Champion David Rudisha cruised to victory in an easy 1:46.1 as Guy Learmonth produced arguably the best performance of his career to make it through to the final in 3rd.
The second semi-final was quicker and won by Botwana’s Nijel Amos in 1:45.65 as the top five all made it through to the final including England’s Michael Rimmer who squeezed through in 5th to claim the last fastest losers spot.
Bianca and Jodie Williams were both in electric form as they won their heats impressively with Bianca Williams posting the fastest 200m qualifying time from all the heats. Anika Onoura finished runner-up to Jamaican Schillonie Calvert to also progress.