This is Stuart Weir’s comments on Day Five of athletics at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. While many events were spectacular, some were modest, making it a bit uneven. Despite that, the crowds, many days of sells outs, were amazingly popular!
The athletics program at the 2022 Commonwealth Games is of an uneven standard. We have seen some fabulous races and field events. We have seen Elaine Thompson-Herah win the 100m in 10.95. The women’s 100m hurdles field includes a world record holder, a world champion, Olympic medalists, etc. On the other hand, on Friday morning, we watched 15 ladies run in two semi-finals of the women’s 1500, with 12 of 15 reaching the final. Similarly, in the women’s long jump qualifying, there were 6 world-class performances, but the cut-off point for the final was 6.28m.
There was frustration for the crowd to see Papua New Guinea, Singapore, and Turks and Caicos contest the men’s 4 by 400 but no England team. Each country has a quota (number of athletes across all sports), and the England team management’s allocation to the different sports did not include enough numbers for a relay team.
Another problem is that an email hit my desk on Friday afternoon inviting me to tune in to the Silesia Diamond League press conference to listen to Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson (Jamaica). The decision of these three athletes to run in an event where they are being paid rather than running for “glory” at the Commonwealth Games is totally understandable but is part of the problem for the Commonwealth Games.
Tom Walsh was the expected winner of the shot with 22.26 from fellow Kiwi Jacko Gill. Scott Lincoln (England) took the bronze with 20.57. Victor Linden (Grenada) won the Decathlon with 8233 points, retaining his title.
Shanieka Ricketts of Jamaica won the women’s triple jump with 14.94m, but the star of the night was Naomi Metzger (England), who took bronze with 14.37m. In fact, all 4 of her legal jumps were beyond her PR coming into the competition. She commented: “It feels like I’m dreaming. It’s basically been the perfect day; I’ve jumped a few PBs and come away with a medal at my home Games. It has been fabulous. I was shocked when I saw the distance of my opening jump. Every time there’s a big crowd, I get less nervous – the noise blocks out my overthinking. That first one gave me a lot of confidence, and the fact I kept building on that was really fun”.
The final race of the night, the women’s 3000m steeplechase, was really exciting. Jackline Chepkoech won in a PR and championship record of 9:15.68. Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai looked set for the silver but Elizabeth Bird (England), roared on by the crowd, overtook her on the final straight. Bird said: “This crowd was amazing. Those last two laps, when I was trying to close the gap, I was just using that energy. I wish I’d started moving a bit sooner as I was so close to that gold. If I’d had another 200 meters, I could have got it, but I’ll take a silver”. Aimee Pratt (England) was fourth.