England’s young athletes added 11 golds to their overnight medal tally on the second day of the Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle Man today.
England’s gymnasts and cyclists led the way again with victories in the women’s road race and a one-two in the men’s individual all-around competitions before England’s athletes took five on a superb afternoon of track and field and the swimmers added three in the pool.
Gymnast Dominick Cunningham and cyclist Hannah Barnes both added second golds to their individual totals as England won 21 medals on the day.
England’s medal haul started when Lucy Garner pipped Australia’s Emily Roper to the line in the women’s road race, with Hannah Barnes adding the bronze to her time trial gold from yesterday as less than three seconds covered the first ten riders at the finish.
With Harriet Owen following them home in seventh, England’s women also bagged their second cycling team gold in two days ahead of Australia, with Wales picking up bronze.
Throughout the race the English girls formed part of the leading peloton, digging deep in the wet and windy conditions. As the leaders approached the finish it was Garner who produced the best sprint, punching the air with delight as she took the chequered flag in front of the TT grandstand.
“I didn’t really know what to expect before the race,” said Garner, a national youth and junior track champion from Countesthorpe in Leicestershire. “I didn’t think the downhill finish would really suit me but I positioned myself well.
“I was itching to make a break but told myself to wait until the finish was in sight. It was a great feeling as I crossed the line. It is very important to win team gold as well – we are here as part of an England team and we work as a team.”
All three riders contributed. “It is really important to look after each other during the race,” explained Owen, from Woodstock in Oxfordshire. “We try to keep together and react as a team when riders make a break.”
There was more success for England when the men took team silver in their road race while Jon Dibben, from Brockenhurst, came agonisingly close to an individual medal, finishing fourth in a blanket finish after racing in the leading group all the way to the line.
After 14 laps and 100kms, six riders had broken away from the field and sprinted for the finish. It was Caleb Ewan for Australia who crossed the line in first place, just ahead of Owain Doull of Wales and another Australian, Jack Beckinsale. Matthew Holmes and Sam Lowe finished in 9th and 10th respectively to clinch silver.
“It felt a long way today and there was a massive headwind approaching the finish,” said Dibben. “I’m disappointed to finish fourth as I would have expected to produce a better sprint but it’s good to get a team medal.”
Cunningham claimed his second gold of the Games after another nerveless display in the Ellan Vannin Gymnastics Centre.
After leading England to team gold yesterday, the 16-year-old from Birmingham dominated the men’s individual all-around competition to win by more than two and a half points from team-mate Jay Thompson.
“Yesterday was for the team but today I upped it a little. This one was for me,” said Cunningham, who finished with an overall score of 82.950.
Leading throughout, Cunnningham almost let it slip on the penultimate event, the parallel bars, but recovered with a poised performance on the bars.
“I knew that I had to perform to the same standard as yesterday,” he said. “But I felt the pressure kicking in on the bar. The parallel bars hadn’t gone too well so I knew I had to stay on.
“When I hit my landing it was a big relief, and I knew all the background training had been worth it. It’s great that Jay got the silver too.”
Thompson, from Paignton, was delighted to follow his team-mate onto the podium after scoring 80.400.
“I made a few mistakes but it was still a decent score,” he said. “I definitely thought I could pull it out of the bag. I just had to focus because it was a mental game today.
“My body is tired and I was still giddy from yesterday’s win, but I just had to keep my nerve and chill out.”
In the women’s event, Liverpool’s Abi Caig added an individual bronze to the team gold she won yesterday. Caig, who led after qualifying, couldn’t quite maintain Friday’s consistency as she lost points with a fall on the bars.
She showed great character to recover and produce the best performance of the afternoon on the beam but nevertheless had to be content with the bronze behind Angel Romaeo from Wales and New Zealand’s Brittany Robertson.
“I knew after my fall on the bars that I would have to produce a very good performance on the beam to have any chance of the gold and I thought I came back fighting harder because of that,” said Caig.
Rebecca Tunney finished sixth.
An inspirational performance from Zak Seddon in the 2000m steeplechase kick-started England’s gold rush on the track.
Seddon, who beat Ugandan Zakaria Kiprotich with a sprint finish in 5:41.81, said: “I knew I had a tough race but I thought the longer I could hold on the better. I was taking him on the water jump so I knew if I could get to the last water jump I was in with a shout.”
Two more golds quickly followed through Sophie McKinna in the shot and Clovis Asong in the 400m.
McKinna added Commonwealth Youth gold to her silver from the World Youth Championships with a fourth round effort of 14.75m, while Asong got the better of Kenya’s 2010 Youth Olympic Champion Alphas Leken Kishoyian in 47.76.
George Caddick won a surprise bronze in 48.99.
McKinna said: “It feels fantastic because this is one of the competitions I targeted this year along with the World Youths.
“As the rounds went on I managed to increase my distance so obviously I was pleased with that because it shows I can maintain form throughout the competition. It’s my last competition of the season so I had to make it worth it.”
Asong was also delighted. “It feels good because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I just wanted to stay as close as I could to the Kenyan so I could power through the last 200m, and it kind of worked.”
A delighted Caddick added: “It feels amazing, especially when my PB wasn’t in the top three in the field. In the last 100m I knew I was in a good position and I just needed to finish it off, and I did.”
Yasmin Miller led from gun to tape to clinch England’s fourth gold in the 100m hurdles, clocking a windy but fast 13.30.
Miller said: “I didn’t know I’d win but I’m really happy with it. I didn’t know what to expect because at the World Youths I messed up badly.”
Jazmin Sawyers was the clear favourite going into the long jump final and she didn’t disappoint, winning with a slightly wind-assisted 6.27m.
Sawyers, who finished ninth in the recent World Youth Championships, said:
“It feels absolutely incredible. After the disappointment of the World Youths to come here and win is amazing, it’s incredible.”
England picked up another medal in the men’s 1500m when Robbie Farnham-Rose took bronze behind a strong Kenyan duo in 3:51.89.
England’s swimmers added another three golds in the pool with Sophie Smith and Phoebe Lenderyou winning their second medals of the Games.
Smith, from Leicester, led all the way to win the women’s 200m IM by just under a second and a half from Sycerika McMahon from Northern Ireland.
“I really wanted to take it out from the start but I was quite surprised at the lead I had at halfway,” she said. “This is my strongest event and I thought it was my best chance of a gold medal. I’m hoping for another medal in the 200m freestyle tomorrow and in the 4x100m relay.”
Lenderyou added the 100m backstroke title to the 200m silver she won yesterday. The Newcastle swimmer broke one minute for the first time as she clocked 59.77 to snatch victory from Australia’s Adelaide Hart with England’s Georgia Hohmann taking bronze.
“The race was a bit of a blur so I didn’t really know what everyone else was doing,” said Lenderyou. “It’s great that my mum and dad and grandma are here and I’m hoping for another medal tomorrow in the 50m backstroke.”
Elena Sheridan’s parents weren’t at the pool but they were watching intently online back in Romford as their daughter took gold in the 200m butterfly, smashing her personal best by 1.5 seconds.
Sheridan led all the way to touch some two seconds ahead of Vanessa Puhlmann of Australia with team-mate Rachael Kelly taking bronze. As the British and English junior short course record holder in the 200m fly, Sheridan was hoping for a medal.
“I didn’t think that I would break 2:10,” said the 15-year-old. “I knew that I had plenty left after the heats this morning. It feels great to be the CYG champion.”
England added a silver in the 4x100m relay thanks to a great anchor leg from international debutant Aaron Rickhuss, but there was disappointment for the women’s 4x200m team as they were disqualified for an illegal change after finishing second behind Australia with a storming final leg from Smith.
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