8th April 2018


Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson) and Olivia Breen (Aston Moore) were both in record-breaking form as they claimed Commonwealth Games gold on a fine opening day of athletics for the Home Nations on the Gold Coast.

Hours after Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake) and Bethan Davies (Drake) had won silver and bronze in the men’s and women’s 20km race walks for England and Wales respectively, Miller and Breen took it a notch further as the Carrara Stadium opened its doors for athletics.

Miller, who arrived in Australia having extended his British hammer record to 78.29m in the US just last week, added almost two metres to that mark with his fourth attempt, winning the men’s title in 80.26m, which was also a Games record.

Breen meanwhile lived up to her billing as the 2017 world champion, securing the women’s T38 long jump crown with a third-round leap of 4.56m before pushing that Games record to a lifetime best of 4.86m for fun with her last attempt.

Elsewhere Asha Philip (Steve Fudge) cruised through the heats and semi-finals of the women’s 100m, qualifying quickest for the final in 11.21 seconds, while Adam Gemili (Rana Reider) ensured the same progression himself in the men’s event.

Miller’s record-breaking throw at a sun-drenched Carrara Stadium ensured he upgraded his silver from Glasgow 2014 while Scotland’s Mark Dry once again claimed bronze with a last-gasp effort of 73.12.

“It is the result of a lot of hard work between me and my coach. It has all paid off in the end. It is just incredible to win the gold,” said Miller. “It is such a special moment for me as my family are in the crowd; they will be more pleased that I threw over 80m.

“To be honest, I thought I could throw 80m; it is the distance every hammer thrower wants to make. The best part is that I beat my coach. We joked for years that I’d throw over his best (80.14m) and when 80.26m came up, it was one up on him.”

There was Home Nations interest from six athletes in the men’s hammer final and at one stage five made up the top five. After a slow start, Miller set the competition alight with his 80.26m effort in round four.

Dry was pushed outside the medals ahead of his last attempt but responded to Canadian Adam Keenan’s 72.15m perfectly with 73.12m for bronze. Miller’s England teammate Taylor Campbell (John Pearson) placed fifth with a best of 72.03m.

Dempsey McGuigan (John Smith) of Northern Ireland was one place behind in sixth with 70.24m while Welshman Osian Jones (Carys Parry) was seventh after a second-round best of 70.14m. Scotland’s Chris Bennett (Michael Jones) ensured all six Home Nations athletes finished in the top ten by claiming that tenth spot with 65.22m.

“I don’t know what just happened. I barely remember any of it. This journey has been unbelievable. It just means so much. That’s the best fight I’ve ever had to put up,” said Dry. “I’ve had two hip reconstructions. I’ve not thrown within two metres of that since surgery, I’ve not been anywhere near it.

“This was going to be the hardest competition of my life, more than the Olympics, more than the World Championships. Glasgow prepared me for it, the home crowd got me to deal with the stress so I was happy here, I was comfortable.”

Breen was joined in the T38 long jump final by England’s Molly Kingsbury, who aged just 16 produced a season’s best of 3.85m for sixth while Scotland’s Amy Carr (Geoffrey Barraclough) was seventh with a best of 3.65m.

“It is a dream come true, when I got off the plane from Rio [2016 Paralympic Games] the Commonwealth Games were my aim and I’ve done it. I’m over the moon, I’m so happy,” said Breen.

“My mum is from Wales and it is really nice to be wearing the Welsh flag. I did the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow four years ago and came fourth ago so I can’t ask for any more.

“I probably won’t be able to stop smiling for a while, my cheeks will probably start hurting but I am really happy. I have got the 100m on Thursday, which is really exciting, I will enjoy this and then quickly get my head down for that.”

Philip was cool, calm and collected as she advanced out of the heats and semi-finals of the women’s 100m, where she’ll go in quickest. England teammate Corinne Humphreys (Darren Braithwaite) and Amy Foster (David Reid) of Northern Ireland looked good in the heats but progressed no further.

Gemili grimaced in the aftermath of his semi-final in the men’s 100m but his time of 10.11 puts him third fastest going into the final behind Yohan Blake and Kemar Hyman and in contention should there be no serious injury. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey’s (Benke Blomkvist) best of 10.26 in the semi-final wasn’t enough for him to join Gemili in the medal showdown.

Five Home Nations athletes competed in the men’s 400m heats, which saw England’s Dwayne Cowan place fourth quickest overall after crossing second in heat five. Teammate Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) comfortably qualified in 46.09 while Cameron Chalmers (James Hillier), representing Guernsey, was made to wait.

He finished outside the automatic spots in heat one but 46.16 was to be good enough for progression. Jersey’s Sam Dawkins (Geoff King) set a personal best of 47.23 in the same race but that wasn’t enough while Matt Hudson-Smith (Lance Brauman) was disqualified for a lane infringement having initially won heat three.