GOLD COAST, Australia, Apr 9 – Akani Simbine grabbed the spotlight and stunned Jamaica’s Yohan Blake in the men’s 100 metres final at the Commonwealth Games on Monday as athletics began a new era without Usain Bolt.
In cool conditions in Australia’s Gold Coast, South Africa’s Simbine stormed up lane seven to win his first major title in 10.03sec, the second fastest time this year.
Blake, the fastest man into the final in 10.06, stumbled out of the blocks and dipped for bronze in a disappointing 10.19, behind South African silver-medallist Henricho Bruintjies’ 10.17.
It was a chastening outing for Blake, 28, the 2011 world champion who holds the joint second fastest time in history, but whose career has long been overshadowed by the now retired Bolt.
“I was stumbling all the way and I didn’t recover from it,” said Blake.
“I’m disappointed because I’ve been feeling good. I didn’t get the start and I was all over the place. I couldn’t recover from it.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye won the women’s 100m in 11.14, ahead of Jamaicans Christania Williams in 11.21 and Gayon Evans with 11.22.
Uganda’s Stella Chessang won a closely contested women’s 10,000m in 31:45.30, and world champion Tomas Walsh heaved 21.41m to win the men’s shot put for New Zealand.
In swimming, Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa stunned England’s Adam Peaty, the world record-holder, to defend his 50 metres breaststroke title.
South Africa’s Chad le Clos completed a hat-trick of butterfly golds when he won the 100m race, and Bronte Campbell earned a rare victory over her sister Cate in the 100m freestyle.
– ‘Be true to yourself’ –
The results came on a day when New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the Games’ first transgender athlete — although her appearance was cut short by a painful injury.
The 40-year-old was leading the women’s +90kg category when she attempted Games-record snatch of 132kg, only for her left elbow to give way under the weight.
But Hubbard, who was born Gavin Hubbard and previously represented New Zealand as a man, was delighted with her warm reception by the crowd, which came despite criticism of her participation by rival team officials.
“The crowd was absolutely magnificent. I felt (it was) just like a big embrace and I wanted to give them something that reflected the best I could do, and my only real regret today was that I was unable to show them,” she said.
Hubbard added: “I think you have to be true to yourself and I hope in this case that’s what I’ve done.”
Feagaiga Stowers, second behind Hubbard before her injury, took gold in one of two weightlifting titles for Samoa, who also won the men’s 105kg through Sanele Mao.
England’s James Willstrop beat Paul Coll of New Zealand to win the men’s squash, while New Zealander Joelle King was crowned women’s champion with victory over English player Sarah-Jane Perry.
India’s Jitu Rai won the men’s 10 metres air pistol with a Commonwealth Games record of 235.1 points, and India also won the men’s table tennis with victory over Nigeria.
And Scottish bowling great Alexander Marshall, a winner at the last four Games, suffered men’s pairs defeat alongside Paul Foster to Daniel Salmon and Marc Wyatt of Wales.