Wales’ Melissa Courtney gave everything to clinch bronze in the women’s 1500m final on the third evening of athletics action at the Commonwealth Games.
In a race delayed because of a technical fault, Courtney took more than two seconds off her best as she ran 4:03.44 behind the dominant pre-race favourite Caster Semenya and silver medallist Beatrice Chepkoech.
Semenya, who is an even surer bet for 800m gold later in the week, ran a Games record of 4:00.71 to erase the 34-year-old South African record held by Zola Budd.
She passed long-time leader Chepkoech in the back straight of the final lap. The Kenyan hung on to beat the fast-finishing Courtney with 4:03.09.
In the home straight, Courtney passed Linden Hall, the Australian with the home support, to have the race of her life.
“I’m in complete shock, I can’t believe I ran that fast. I can’t believe it,” said the delighted 24-year-old. “I felt strong in the last 100m, the crowd were going crazy, and I’d tried to pretend the crowd were cheering for me as I came past the Aussie.
“I’ve got so many family and fans out here, it’s my first big final, and it went so well. The Wales team is so close, it’s been really special.
“In 2015 I was diagnosed with a metabolic condition which I’ve had to overcome in the last two years. My coach and family have helped me through this, and having been inspired by being there watching at Glasgow, I knew I had to be here on the Gold Coast.”
Scotland’s Eilish McColgan was also closing quickly but had to be content with sixth in 4:04.30 behind Georgia Griffith’s PB of 4:04.17.
Another Scot, Steph Twell, the 2010 bronze medallist, was seventh in 4:05.56, one place ahead of England’s Sarah McDonald, who ran 4:05.77.
England’s Katie Snowden was 11th in 4:06.55, while Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean (4:07.41) outran England’s Jessica Judd (4:08.82) at the rear of the field.
Snowden commented on her race afterwards: “I’m a bit disappointed if I’m honest. Although I was only a fastest loser in the heat, I actually felt quite good in it.
“But I just couldn’t go with that pace today and it went out from the gun. But Melissa (Courtney) is someone I train with and she got a bronze medal, so I’m absolutely over the moon for her, she really deserves it.
“It’s great to be mixing with these girls. It’s my first proper champs at senior level and it’s so promising to have a training partner with a bronze medal. I just need to go back now and keep working to get in good shape for the season.”
Northern Ireland’s Mageean was satisfied with her efforts, saying: “I went for it. I’ve had a few races where I’ve trailed at the back and walked away extremely disappointed in my performance.
“My aim is to go out every time I wear a Northern Irish vest and give it my all on the track. I laid it all out there.”
Elsewhere on day three of athletics
England’s Andrew Pozzi, bidding to add another medal to his gold from the World Indoor Championships this spring, finished a disappointed seventh in his 110m hurdles final.
Starting out as one of the favourites, he hit the first hurdle, recovered to stay in contention but then struggled technically in the second half, clocking 13.53 behind winner Ronald Levy of Jamaica (13.19).
Jamaica made it a one-two through Hansle Parchment, who ran 13.22, while Australia’s Nicholas Hough won bronze in a PB of 13.38.
The home nations athletes in the women’s 400m also suffered disappointment, failing to progress through the semi-finals. Scotland’s Zoey Clark, England’s Anyika Onuoura and England’s Emily Diamond took fourth places in each of the semi-finals with only two from each guaranteed to qualify.
Diamond was the quickest, as her 52.02 in the final heat was the fastest non-qualifying time. Clark ran 52.06, only marginally quicker than her sixth-place time at the World Indoors this spring, and Onuora ran 52.73.
With 51.08, Jamaica’s Anastasia Le Roy was fastest overall to progress to what could be an open final.
No home nations athletes were in action in the men’s 400m final as Botswana’s Isaac Makwala justified his tag as favourite with a dominant victory in 44.35.
Powering away down the home straight, he was followed by team-mate Baboloki Thebe, who ran 45.09, and bronze medallist Javon Francis of Jamaica, who was timed at 45.11.
At a busy morning session in the Carrara Stadium, Kyle Langford and Jake Wightman booked their spots in the men’s 800m final, with Dina Asher-Smith and Leon Reid among the athletes to advance to the 200m semi-finals. Highlights and a round-up can be found here.