GLASGOW: Jamaica and Kenya had a night to remember on the third day of Commonwealth Games action on Tuesday, the track and field powerhouses reaping a big haul of medals, while Canada also nabbed two golds.
Stephanie McPherson led an impressive Jamaican cleansweep of a high-quality women’s 400m, while there were also golds for Andrew Riley in the 110m hurdles and Kimberly Williams in the triple jump.
Not to be outdone, Joyce Chepkirui led a Kenyan 1-2-3 in a slow-paced 10,000m, while Faith Kibiegon claimed gold in the women’s 1500m as favoured team-mate Hellen Onsando Obiri faded badly.
“I’m so, so happy it was Kenya for one, two and three,” said Chepkirui, who led home Florence Kiplagat and Emily Chebet in 32min 09.35sec after a powerful surge 50 metres from the line.
The Kenyan trio were in complete control of the race from the off and waited until the field had strung out and the bell sounded for the final lap before making any moves.
It was Kiplagat who led the threesome into last 400m, eyes glued on the stadium bigscreen. At 200 metres she bolted, but Chepkirui responded on the inside and nipped her by seven hundredths of a second.
“It was so close near the end but I knew my body was in good shape,” said Chepkirui. “I’m happy I could win at my first Commonwealth Games.”
It was a similar story in the 400m, McPherson, in 50.67sec, pulling out all the stops to squeeze past Novelene Williams-Mills (50.86), whose battle with cancer saw her have a double masectomy, and Christine Day (51.09).
Defending champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana, also the 2011 world champion, finished just one hundredth of a second off the podium in a race in which current world champion Christine Ohurugogu elected not to compete, preferring to concentrate solely on the 4x400m relay.
“We came out here and put on a good show!” beamed Williams-Mills.
Riley clocked 13.32sec in the high hurdles, pushed all the way by English silver medallist William Sharman. Defending champion Andy Turner crashed out in the semi-final with hot favourite Hansle Parchment absent.
Williams’s victory in the triple jump was slightly more academic, a best of 14.21m enough to comfortably see off England’s Laura Samuel (14.09).
Canada’s Damian Warner dominated the gruelling two-day, 10-discipline decathlon right from the opening event, the 100m, when he clocked a sizzling 10.29sec.
The world bronze medallist went on to achieve bests of 7.50m in the long jump, 14.04m in the shot put, 1.96m in the high jump, 47.78sec in the 400m, 13.50sec in the 110m hurdles, 41.31m in the discus, 4.50m in the pole vault, 61.96m in the javelin and 4min 45.43sec in the 10th and final event, the 1500m.
Those results accrued him 8282 points, England’s Ashley Bryant taking silver (8109) and Grenada’s Kurt Felix bronze (8070).
There was a second gold for Canada after Jim Steacy won the men’s hammer with a best of 74.16m, England’s Nicolas Miller taking silver (72.99).
Warner and Steacy’s female teammate Brianne Thiesen-Eaton also took the overnight lead in the heptathlon, on 3939 points, with the long jump, javelin and 800m to be contested on Wednesday.
Earlier in the session, Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada progressed smoothly into Wednesday’s 400m final, clocking a leading 45.14sec in the semi-finals.
Also in a top field will be Trinidad and Tobago trio Jarrin Solomon, Renny Quow and Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon, South African Wayde van Niekerk, Bahamas duo Chris Brown and Latoy Williams, and England’s Martyn Rooney.
Kenya’s Olympic champion David Rudisha also cruised into the semi-finals of the men’s 800m, the world record holder setting the fastest qualifying time of 1:46.89. “I’m very happy to be here. I only started training in March. It’s been a tough year and I know I’m going to struggle, but my focus is next year,” said Rudisha, whose staggering 800m run in just shy of 101 seconds was the stand-out performance on the track at the 2012 London Olympics.