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Rediff.com  » Sports » Watch out for these athletes at Commonwealth Games!

Watch out for these athletes at Commonwealth Games!

April 02, 2018 16:54 IST

Athletes to watch at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games:

NICOL DAVID (Squash, Malaysia)

Nicol David

IMAGE: Nicol David of Malaysia plays a backhand. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The eight-times world champion is facing unknown territory entering a competition where she is not a favourite for the title having had a slump in form. She is still ranked third for the women's singles at Oxenford Studios behind England's Laura Massaro and New Zealand's Joelle King, but has been in Australia for about two weeks finalising her preparations.

 

HAMISH BOND (Road cycling, New Zealand)

Part of the most dominant rowing combination in the world with Eric Murray, Bond won two Olympic gold medals in the pairs before they split after the Rio Games. Bond had made no secret of his desire to continue on until the 2020 Games in Tokyo, but in cycling. Despite conceding he was still undergoing a learning curve in his new sport he was named to contest the individual time trial on the Gold Coast and won the Oceania title in Tasmania earlier in March as part of his final preparations.

LEE CHONG WEI (Badminton, Malaysia)

Lee Chong Wei

IMAGE:  Lee Chong Wei. Photograph: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Arguably the second most dominant badminton player in history, behind China's Lin Dan, the 35-year-old will be looking for his third men's singles gold at the Carrara Sports Arena after Malaysian officials opted to send younger players to Glasgow. Lee has also anchored Malaysia's gold medal winning team twice and is seeking two more titles at what will be his final Commonwealth Games.

LAUREL HUBBARD (Weightlifiting, New Zealand)

Transgender weightlifter Hubbard has had to fight off opposition from critics, particularly in Australia, who had sought to have her banned for the Games claiming she had an unfair advantage. The 39-year-old New Zealander, who lived as Gavin Hubbard until 2014 and competed at national level as a man, has been cleared to compete by both the International Olympic Committee and International Weightlifting Federation. She finished second in the women's super-heavyweights at last year's world championships.

MATTHEW GLAETZER (Track cycling, Australia)

The tall 25-year-old showed he was in career best form at the recent world championships in the Netherlands, winning the men's sprint and finishing second in the 1km time trial. Glatezer, who took up cycling after injuries ended his pole vaulting dreams, became the first man to break one minute for the time trial at sea level last November. He will be busy having entered in the sprint, time trial, team sprint and Keirin with rides on every day of the April 5-8 competition.

SALLY PEARSON (Sprint hurdler, Australia)

Sally Pearson

IMAGE:  Sally Pearson competes in the women's 100 metres hurdles final. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The London 2012 100m hurdles champion has won the event at the last two Games in Delhi and Glasgow but enters the competition with a nagging Achilles problem. The 31-year-old burst back onto the international scene with an emotional victory at last year's world's championships after a broken wrist and hamstring injury robbed her of the previous two years.

YOHAN BLAKE (Sprinter, Jamaica)

Yohan Blake

IMAGE:  Yohan Blake. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The 28-year-old sprinter has to fill the considerably large shoes of former training partner Usain Bolt following the eight-times Olympic gold medallist's retirement after last year's world championships. Blake has found himself in fourth at the last two major global championships but Canada's Rio Olympics silver medallist Andre De Grasse decision to miss the Gold Coast event has cleared the path for his first individual gold since he won the 2011 world championship title.

ELAINE THOMPSON (Sprinter, Jamaica)

The Rio Olympics 100m and 200m champion is a welcome boost to the athletics programme but has already said she will not attempt the double on the Gold Coast. The 25-year-old told Australian media after a warm-up meeting in Brisbane that she would concentrate on the 200m at Carrara Stadium.

TOM WALSH (Shot putter, New Zealand)

The shot-putter has been impressive in recent competition, recording a throw of 22.67m at a warm-up meeting in New Zealand. It was the longest throw in the world since 2003. The double indoor and 2017 world champion said the throw had been "pretty easy" and his goal now included breaking the world record of 23.12m set by Randy Barnes in 1990.

VALERIE ADAMS (Shot putter, New Zealand)

Valerie Adams

IMAGE:  Valerie Adams. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The two-time Olympic champion is making her international comeback after having her first child less than five months ago. The 33-year-old has won the last three Commonwealth gold medals and while she has not been close to her best so early in her comeback, Adams relatively happy with the consistency she is achieving, with a recent series of throws all over 18m.

CASTOR SEMENYA (Middle distance runner, South Africa)

The two-time 800m Olympic champion has never competed at a Commonwealth Games having missed both the Delhi and Glasgow Games due to injury. Semenya won her third 800m world title and finished third in the 1500m last year in London and has targeted the 800-1500m double on the Gold Coast. Has already been named as her country's flag bearer for the opening ceremony.

ARIARNE TITMUS (Swimming, Australia)

The 17-year-old Titmus became the first Australian women in 14 years -- and just the sixth overall -- to win the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle titles at the recent Australian championships. The teenager has said she's aiming to get faster on the Gold Coast and she looms as the favourite for the 400m freestyle with 2014 champion Lauren Boyle from New Zealand now retired.

ADAM PEATY (Swimming, England)

Adam Peaty

IMAGE: Great Britain's Adam Peaty competes in the Men's 100m Breastroke Final. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

The 23-year-old has dominated the sprint breaststroke events since he won the 100m at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and enters each meeting trying to beat his own world records as part of his "Project 56" goal to become the first swimmer to break the 57-second mark in the 100m. Peaty has targeted the Commonwealth Games as one of his two major events this year with his mind already looking at the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

CHAD LE CLOS (Swimming, South Africa)

Chad Le Clos

IMAGE: South Africa's Chad Le Clos celebrates. Photograph: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 25-year-old was crushed after the 2016 Rio Games when he failed to defend his signature 200m butterfly title, finishing fourth as Michael Phelps regained the gold the South African had won in an upset at London four years earlier. Le Clos has 12 Commonwealth medals across the butterfly, individual medley and relays and is entered in eight events on the Gold Coast, with his goal to become the most successful athlete in Games history.

PENNY OLEKSIAK (Swimming, Canada)

The freestyle sprinter became Canada's youngest Olympic champion at Rio when aged 16 she was a surprise winner of the 100m freestyle in a dead heat with Simone Manuel of the United States. Still only 17, Oleksiak has added the 200m freestyle to her programme this year, but her battle with Cate Campbell in the 100 is likely to be one of the highlights of the meeting.

Returning Australian freestylers

A trio of Australian world and Olympic champions in Cate Campbell, James Magnussen and Kyle Chalmers return to the pool after missing the world championships last year.

Olympic 100m freestyle champion Chalmers missed last year's championships to fix a heart condition, while Campbell took the year off after leaving the Rio Olympics disappointed she had not won the 100m freestyle title, calling it 'the biggest choke in Olympic history'.

Magnussen, the two-times 100m freestyle world champion, had a shoulder reconstruction and only qualified for the 4x100m relay team and the 50m sprint.

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