‘Hard to enjoy’: Kyle Chalmers wins gold as Glaetzer defies late handlebar change
Kyle Chalmers touched the wall, popped up his head to check the results, then stood up and brought his index finger to his lips.
The Australian had just won the men’s 100m freestyle, a Commonwealth Games gold six years in the making – his first at a major international event since becoming Olympic champion at Rio 2016.
And after a week of unfounded speculation and relentless questions about his private life, his time of 47.51 seconds symbolically silenced all the unwelcome attention.
“I thought about it before,” Chalmers told the Seven Network after the race, in which England’s Tom Dean and Scotland’s Duncan Scott won silver and bronze respectively.
“Normally I do a bit more powerful celebration after a win but that one was one that probably means more than giving a fist bump or flexing the muscles.
“It is special to win, but unfortunately I think it is hard to enjoy the moment when all that has happened has gone on. It makes it a challenging time.
“I am grateful that I was able to block it out enough to stand up and win tonight. I hope this is a learning point for everybody, and I hope nobody else has to go through what I have gone through.”
On a day when table-toppers Australia again added to their already-bulging Birmingham medal tally, with Emma McKeon leading the swimmers’ domination and Matthew Glaetzer (track cycling), Georgia Godwin (gymnastics), Ellen Ryan (lawn bowls) and Tinka Easton (judo) among the other gold medallists, Chalmers said he was uncharacteristically emotional before the race.
“This last 48 hours has been hell, it has been an emotional rollercoaster,” he said. “I appreciate all the support that I have had. I would not have been able to get through [without] it.
“Yesterday there were points where I thought I would not continue on. That just lets the media win. For me, I had to stand up and do it, not for myself but for everybody at home, everybody going through similar things. I hope I can inspire and I will continue this conversation.”
It came as McKeon collected her fourth gold of the Games and the 12th of her career, pipping compatriot Holly Barratt – who tied in second with South Africa’s Erin Gallagher – to build on her new record as the most successful Commonwealth Games athlete in history.
Also at the pool, Kaylee McKeown cruised to 200m backstroke victory to add to her 100m triumph, beating Kylie Masse and breaking the Canadian’s Commonwealth Games record in the process.
The men’s relay team won a fourth consecutive 4x200m gold in a Games-record time, and Matthew Levy clinched gold the men’s 50m freestyle S7 to bring down the curtain on an illustrious career featuring a string of Paralympic, world championship and Commonwealth Games gold medals.
“It is great to finish here and to back it up from four years ago,” Levy said. “I’ve had a very long career and it is great to continue that high standard throughout 20 years and I’m very proud of tonight and proud of my career.”
Meanwhile, Cody Simpson advanced to the men’s 100m butterfly final, qualifying fifth fastest with a third place in his semi-final.
“Pretty wild, pretty special,” Simpson said. “That was my goal, to make sure I got into night. Just relieved that I am.”
At the velodrome, Glaetzer put two days of setbacks behind him to defend his 1km time trial from four years ago and equal Anna Meares’s Australian record of five Commonwealth Games cycling golds.
Despite being forced to use different handlebars for safety reasons, Glaetzer (59.505 seconds) and fellow Australian Tom Cornish (1:00.036) finished first and second ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicholas Paul (1:00.089).
The race – likely his last at a Commonwealth Games – was a fitting end to a nightmare 48 hours, during which the 29-year-old from Adelaide crashed during the keirin and needed his elbow cut open to remove splinters, and was then denied a bronze medal on review in the men’s sprint.
AusCycling had told the Australians they would have to use less aerodynamic sprint handlebars because of fears the aerobars would not stand up to the riders’ power output. The decision was made as a result of a review following Alex Porter’s crash at the Tokyo Olympics which found the governing body had failed to properly stress-test equipment.
“It was pretty last minute when we found out,” Glaetzer said. “We couldn’t control it. But we’d rather be safe, and not snap anything or lacerate our arm with something going wrong, so we took it in our stride.”
Gymnast Godwin won the individual vault to bring her haul to two gold medals and two silver, in a campaign that has almost single-handedly thrust gymnastics into the spotlight.
And Ryan secured Australia’s first lawn bowls women’s singles gold, the 25-year-old holding off Guernsey’s Lucy Beere 21-17.
The Diamonds remain unbeaten in the netball after dispatching South Africa 74-49, though midcourter Paige Hadley is in doubt for the team’s next match against Wales on Tuesday after injuring her calf.
It was not a good day for the women’s 3 x 3 basketball team, who lost their semi-final 20-13 to host nation England.