Jack Laugher defends diving gold at Commonwealth Games

Sports

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — English diver Jack Laugher extended his dominance in the one-meter springboard event Thursday to take a third straight gold at the Commonwealth Games.

The 27-year-old Laugher, who was England’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony last week, continued a run that also included gold in Glasgow in 2014 and on Australia’s Gold Coast four years ago.

He had been below his best in the morning’s preliminary rounds but hit peak form from midway through the six rounds to seize control and later credited the threat posed by Australian diver Shixin Li for inspiring him.

Laugher, who won Olympic gold in the 3-meter synchronized event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, posted a total of 447.05 points to defeat Li by 10 points. England’s Jordan Houlden claimed the bronze.

“I was under loads of pressure, trying to defend that title, which I’ve had for eight years now,” Laugher said. “I think I got it wrong this morning. I was trying to indulge in the crowd a little bit too much. I’m quite introverted in the way that I compete and the way I am usually.

“So, this afternoon I tried not to get too involved with the crowd … until that sixth dive went in. I knew it was good and then I could get excited with the crowd and enjoy it.”

Cyclist Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France winner, crashed early in the individual time trial in Wolverhampton, striking a barrier when making a sweeping turn. Thomas was able to remount his bike and recovered well to claim the bronze medal behind winner Rohan Dennis, a double time trial world champion.

“I just went into the corner a bit too hot. (I have) only myself to blame. I went at it too hard after that, with all the adrenaline,” Thomas said.

Dennis, who made it a clean sweep for Australia in the individual time trial after Grace Brown claimed the women’s event earlier on Thursday, was unaware of his rival’s misfortune.

“It’s best I don’t know that stuff,” he said. “I was trying not to think about anybody else, but I heard at the finish that he had a mishap in the first three to five (kilometers). It’s a shame. You never like to see anyone come down.”

In athletics, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah returned to Alexander Stadium just over 12 hours after her triumph in the 100 meters on Wednesday night.

A double Olympic champion in the 200, she qualified second fastest for Friday’s semifinals in an easy heat win in 22.80 seconds.

The track and field events in Birmingham have been hit by a number of withdrawals.

The proximity of the event to the world championships in Oregon in late July and other major meetings saw Jamaican sprinting star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opt against racing.

But injury and illnesses are also causing issues, with Australia’s team hit by the withdrawal of three medal contenders.

Stewart McSweyn, a finalist in the 1500-meters final in Tokyo, did not take his place in qualifying heats in the morning session due to influenza.

Kathryn Mitchell, the gold medalist in javelin on the Gold Coast four years ago, has also been ruled out of competing in Birmingham.

Athletics Australia said Mitchell was suffering from an unknown virus she picked up when traveling from the United States.

Ash Moloney, who won a bronze medal in the decathlon at the Tokyo Olympics last year, was not able to compete due to injury.

But 2019 javelin world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber has been cleared by Australian officials to compete after recovering from COVID-19.

Earlier, Jamaica caused a major upset in netball when it beat gold medal favorite Australia to reach the semifinals with a 57-55 comeback win.

Jamaica captain Jhaniele Fowler, who plays in Australia’s domestic competition for the Perth-based West Coast Fever, scored 47 goals from 50 attempts.

“It’s a bit surreal to beat Australia in a Commonwealth Games,” she said. “We’ve not done that before, but this team of ours is incredible and we went out there and proved everyone wrong and it feels so good.

After two Sri Lankan athletes and a coach went missing on Monday, West Midland police said two had been located but that a male wrestler was still missing. The Sri Lankan team had ordered athletes and officials to surrender their passports after the wrestler, a judoku and judoku coach absconded on Monday.

All three Sri Lankans have valid visas to remain in the United Kingdom for 180 days.

Sri Lanka, which brought a team of 161 including 51 officials to Birmingham, is in the midst of an economic crisis.

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