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Rediff.com  » Sports » CWG: Horton ends Australia's long wait for 400 freestyle champion

CWG: Horton ends Australia's long wait for 400 freestyle champion

April 05, 2018 19:26 IST

(L-R) Silver medalist Jack McLoughlin of Australia, gold medalist Mack Horton of Australia and bronze medalist James Guy of England clown about on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 400m freestyle final on Day 1 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Optus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday

IMAGE: (L-R) Silver medalist Jack McLoughlin of Australia, gold medalist Mack Horton of Australia and bronze medalist James Guy of England clown about on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 400m freestyle final on Day 1 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Optus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Olympic champion Mack Horton ended a 16-year drought for Australia in the men's 400 metres freestyle at the Commonwealth Games when he won the host nation's first title in the pool at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on Thursday.

The 21-year-old had to chase down James Guy and Jack McLoughlin to win the title, pulling ahead in the final 100 metres to edge out compatriot McLoughlin and the Englishman to touch in three minutes, 43.76.

 

While Horton had been the fastest qualifier, Guy and McLoughlin were swimming under the world record pace set by Germany's Paul Biedermann in 2009 for the first 200 metres as they duelled in lanes two and three.

Horton sat back, leaving the pair to fatigue and made his move just before the 300-metre mark before he took control of the race when he turned for home.

McLoughlin finished in 3:45.21, with Guy touching 0.11 seconds later.

"He typically goes out hard, he thinks it's the only way you can swim it so that's what he does," Horton said of Guy's race tactics.

"I just did what I had to do.

"If you go out that hard you're going to be hurting on the back end more than I'm going to be so it's good fun."

Horton was the first Australian champion in the race, seen as one of the premier titles on the programme, since retired swimming great Ian Thorpe at Manchester in 2002.

Australia had held a virtual mortgage on the Commonwealth title from 1970 until 2002, winning eight of the nine golds before Scotland's David Carry (2006) and Canada's Ryan Cochrane (2010, 2014) broke their stranglehold.

"Just swimming in front of the home crowd is unreal," Horton told reporters of the noise generated by the passionate home fans as he pulled ahead.

"I probably feel more emotion here than in Rio because the whole crowd is cheering for you. That didn't happen so much in Rio. Ten thousand people cheering for you is pretty unreal."

Campbell sisters power Australia to swimming world record

Gold medalists Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell of Australia pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay final on Thursday

IMAGE: Gold medalists Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell of Australia pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay final on Thursday. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Bronte and Cate Campbell powered Australia to a world record in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay to cap the first day's competition in the pool at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

The Australian quartet, which also included Shayna Jack and Emma McKeon, clocked three minutes, 30.05 seconds to beat their previous record of 3:30.65 from the Rio Olympics to win gold ahead of Canada and England.

Bronte Campbell had given the host nation the lead on the second leg before McKeon handed over to Cate Campbell, who produced a storming finish to break the previous mark.

Canada's Alexia Zevnik had given her team a flying start before Bronte Campbell took over and McKeon then pulled away from Olympic 100m freestyle champion Penny Oleksiak to set up Cate Campbell's flying finish.

Australia set world record in pursuit

Alex Porter, Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien of Australia celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Men's 4000m Team Pursuit track cycling final at the Anna Meares Velodrome on Thursday

IMAGE: Alex Porter, Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Kelland O'Brien of Australia celebrate after winning the gold medal in the Men's 4000m Team Pursuit track cycling final at the Anna Meares Velodrome on Thursday. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Australia's track cyclists set the world record in the men's 4km team pursuit at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Thursday, routing rivals England to claim the gold medal at a roaring Anna Meares Velodrome.

Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford, Kelland O'Brien and Alex Porter blazed across the line in three minutes 49.804 seconds, smashing the mark of 3:50.265 seconds set by Britain at the Rio Olympics.

The home quartet crossed nearly six seconds ahead of their English challengers, striking a blow in the battle dubbed by "the Ashes on wheels" by local media, a reference to the two nations' fierce cricket rivalry.

On the opening night of the track cycling events, the men's triumph came soon after their female compatriots smashed New Zealand in the gold medal decider in the same event.

"We're in our home country. That is what dreams are made of. This is what we strive for every day," said an ecstatic Welsford.

"When I looked at the board, I had to have a second glance -- 3.49 -- then it was pure happiness. I just screamed and let out all the emotion.

"I never knew how fast we were going. But we knew we were on a good one. The first under 3.50. Unreal."

Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton capped a joyous night for home fans by claiming gold in the women's team sprint, setting another Games record in defeating New Zealand's Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming.

Australia were primed to sweep all four golds in the able-bodied events but failed to make the final in the men's team sprint after a technical error during their qualifying race.

That left New Zealand's trio of Sam Webster, Edward Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell to win the title, denying cycling powerhouse England a first track gold at the Games.

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