Commonwealth Games: Titmus wins gold as Australia dominate pool

Australia's Ariarne Titmus celebrates taking gold in the women's 200m freestyle swimming final. PHOTO: AFP

BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) - Ariarne Titmus held off a fierce challenge to win 200m freestyle gold at the Commonwealth Games on Friday (July 29) as Australia dominated on the first night of action in the Birmingham pool.

Zac Stubblety-Cook took gold in the men's 200m breaststroke and Elijah Winnington triumphed in the 400m freestyle.

Australia added gloss to their evening by winning the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay, finishing ahead of England and Canada.

Titmus, who won 200m and 400m freestyle gold at last year's Tokyo Olympics, was away quickly and seemingly in total control of the final at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

But 18-year-old compatriot Mollie O'Callaghan produced a storming performance on the final 50m to miss out by just 0.12sec as Titmus touched in a new Games record of 1:53.89.

Titmus, who broke the 400m world record at the Australian championships in May, chose to skip the world championships in Budapest the following month.

"Moll has been killing in training, she is young, feisty, hungry - I knew she would be there," she told Australia's Channel 7. "It is fun to have a race."

"I love it that we are in a country where we have depth like this," added the 21-year-old, who recently had a bout of coronavirus.

McIntosh stuns

Canadian Summer McIntosh, just 15 years old, destroyed the field in the 400m women's individual medley.

She won in a new Games record of 4:29.01 - more than three seconds quicker than her winning time at the recent world championships.

Breaking her own world junior record, she finished nearly eight seconds clear of second-placed Australian Kiah Melverton, with Scotland's Katie Shanahan third.

"I've been working on a lot of stuff in training so I can execute my 400m IM better than I did at the worlds, because I had so much room for improvement - and I still do," she said.

Canadian Summer McIntosh, just 15 years old, destroyed the field in the 400m women's individual medley. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Australia's Winnington stormed to victory in the men's 400m freestyle as Australia swept the podium.

The world champion, 22, who was inside world record pace for much of the race, tired in the latter stages.

He clocked 3:43.06 to finish ahead of Sam Short and defending champion Mack Horton, who won Olympic gold in the event in 2016.

Winnington, who almost quit the sport after a disappointing Olympics last year, said it had been tough to refocus after winning gold at the recent world championships.

He said he was not too disappointed that he had faded in the final stages to miss out on a shot at the world record.

"It's something to chase," he said. "My coach and I always say it's pretty hard being the hunted but having that world record there means I am still the hunter."

Australia's Elijah Winnington reacts after winning gold in the men’s 400m freestyle final. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Olympic and world champion Stubblety-Cook was put under immense pressure by England's defending champion James Wilby but powered down the home straight to win in 2:08.07.

South Africa's Chad le Clos - seeking to equal the all-time record of 18 Commonwealth medals - failed to qualify for the final of the men's 50m butterfly.

Australia's Emma McKeon - who won seven medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including four golds - won her ninth Commonwealth gold medal as part of the winning relay team.

She also topped the times in the women's 100m butterfly semi-finals.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.