This is day one of the athletics portion of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, written by our Senior Writer for Europe, Stuart Weir. Stuart loves the Commonwealth Games, and it shows. 72 countries, with 6,500 athletes.
Athletics opening day
Following on from the World Championships in Oregon, where crowds were disappointing, it was brilliant to see the Alexander stadium virtually filled to 30,000 capacity for the opening morning session. I understand that all 12 sessions of athletics are sold-out.
It was, in all honesty, a working day with just three athletic and three para-athletics finals plus a host of heats and qualifying rounds, in addition to day one of the heptathlons.
Nina Kennedy (Australia) won the women’s pole vault with 4.60m. Nina had taken bronze at last month’s World Championships with 4.80m as well as bronze in the Commonwealth Games 4 years ago. Second was Molly Caudery (England), with Imogen Ayris and Olivia McTaggart (both New Zealand) third and fourth – all three on 4.45m. Kennedy commented: “”That was fun, amazing. And there was the sunset just before I won. It was really cool. I was mentally quite flat after the world championships. I am so proud of myself because it was so hard to come here”.’
There was a massive disappointment for the home crowd when Holly Bradshaw had to withdraw without participating. Having been injured in Oregon when a pole snapped in the warm-up, she did everything possible to compete in Birmingham, but, we understand, she felt the injury in the warm-up and had no choice but to withdraw.
Taking nothing away from the medalists, the men’s 10,000m was a massive disappointment, with 72 Commonwealth countries only able to produce nine entrants between them – 3 Kenyans and one each from Australia, England, Scotland, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Predictably it was an East African triumph, with Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda) winning in 27:09.19 with Kenyans in the next three places. Daniel Simiu was second and Kibiwott Kandie third. Kiplimo’s winning time was 25 seconds faster than the Commonwealth Games record set 4 years ago by Joshua Cheptegei.
The women’s discus was won by Chioma Onyekwere of Nigeria 61.70m from Jade Lally (England), with Obiageri Amaechi (Nigeria) third. The winner commented: ““It feels amazing. We knew we wanted to end our season with a bang, so it feels like an amazing accomplishment. I had a season’s best, and Obi (AMAECHI) came close. I’m so happy that we could be on the podium together. It feels good to make your country proud, especially on day one”.
Katarina Johnson Thompson, who led the heptathlon at the halfway stage, said: “I’m tired. It’s been a long day, starting at 9 O’Clock, so my alarm was set for me to rise at 6am, and we are one of the last events to finish here today. However, I’ve had a few seasons’ bests, and I’m planning for a few more seasons’ bests tomorrow. Let’s see where that takes me.”
An excellent feature of the day was that eight para-athletic events were included in the day’s program. The pick of the day was Olivia Breen’s surprise victory over favorite and world record holder Sophie Hahn in a T38 (cerebral palsy race).
There were excellent 100m and women’s 800m prelims, which are the subject of separate posts.