From the pool to the track to the field to the sand, Australia had a Commonwealth Games to remember in Birmingham, topping the medal tally with 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze.
A week on, take a look at the ten best Aussie moments from Birmingham (in no particular order).
Honourable mentions go to Georgia Godwin’s gymnastics dominance, the Kookaburras 7-0 annihilation of India in the gold medal match, the women’s rugby sevens gold after upsetting New Zealand in the semi-final, and Ariarne Titmus’ performance in the pool.
The women’s 4x100 metre medley relay at Birmingham saw Aussie swim star Emma McKeon claim her sixth gold of the Commonwealth games, equalling the record for most golds won by an Australian at a single Games, which is shared with Susie O’Neill and Ian Thorpe. McKeon also equalled O’Neill for most medals won at a single Games with eight.
But the record-breaking didn’t stop there, with McKeon also for most career Commonwealth Games gold medals (14) and most career games medals (20).
Changing of the guard?
Remember the name Mollie O’Callaghan. The 18-year-old swim sensation cemented her status as on of Australia’s brightest up and coming prospects in the pool, eclipsing the decorated Shayna Jack and Emma McKeon as the Aussies claimed the gold, silver and bronze treble in the women’s 100 metre freestyle.
The race itself was a heart-stopping watch, with Callaghan motoring down McKeon and Jack in the final ten metres as the trio stormed almost inseparably towards the finish. The beginning of a very bright future for O’Callaghan.
Etched his name in folkHoare
After a disappointing World Championships where he failed to make the final, Ollie Hoare was rocked by the death of his granddad and long-time coach just a week out from the Commonwealth Games.
Lining up against one of the strongest fields at the Commonwealth Games in any discipline, with the reigning World Champion and Olympic silver and bronze medallists all featuring, Hoare had his work cut out for him. Even more so when he rounded the final bend in fourth, several metres off the lead. But what transpired on that final straight will forever be etched in Australian athletics folklore, with Hoare drifting to the third lane and finding a never discovered gear as he motored past the heavily fancied Jake Wightman before pipping Timothy Cheruiyot – who’s legs gave out on him – at the line in a Games record 3:30.12.
Hoare became just Australia’s second middle distance gold medallist at the Games, with the other coming through Herb Elliott back in 1958.
And with his granddad’s death still raw, Hoare collapsed and broke down in tears mere seconds after crossing the line. Goosebumps stuff.
No handlebars, no worries
Australia’s track cycling medal hopes in the men’s 1000m time trial were plunged into disarray when AusCycling announced our cyclists would be forced to compete with drop bars instead of pursuit bars only hours before the event due to safety concerns. The change was meant to cost about a second over the 1000m. That may not sound like much, but is a monumental disadvantage in the cycling world – keep in mind the event only takes around 60 seconds to complete.
Unphased, the Aussies rallied, pulling off the unthinkable with Matt Glaetzer storming to gold, ahead of Tom Cornish in silver and Matt Richardson in fourth. A truly remarkable effort from all three athletes.
Dalton from deep!
Australia’s 3x3 wheelchair basketball team claimed gold in the sport’s Commonwealth Games debut. The final was exhilarating, with Australia prevailing 11-9 over Canada, and a clutch Lachlan Dalton bucket from deep proved decisive, before Luke People steered the team to gold with three straight baskets.
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Dual gold medallist of a different kind
Eileen Cikamantana became the first woman to win Commonwealth Games gold for two countries. After her 90kg gold on the Gold Coast in 2018, she backed it up with an 87kg win for Australia in Birmingham, becoming the first ever athlete to do so. History-making stuff from Cikamantana!
Australia’s 1000th gold medal
The Diamonds trumped Jamaica – who they’d lost to just days earlier – 55-51 in the netball final to claim gold. The achievement was the Diamonds fourth Commonwealth Games gold medal, but was made even more special by the fact it was Australia’s 1000th Commonwealth Games gold. A big occasion for both the team and nation.
Beach volleyball epic
Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett rallied against the Canadians in a gripping men’s beach volleyball final. After fighting off two ‘setballs’ (volleyball lingo for set points) the Aussies needed four of their own before finally downing the Canadian pair 20-18 in the final set. It was hard-hitting, edge-of-your-seat volleyball, with brutal spikes thundering into the sand nearly every point. Couldn’t have asked for a better spectacle.
Kelsey-Lee Barber stole the show in the women’s javelin final, producing a clutch 64.43 metre throw with her very last attempt (and the last throw of the entire final) to steal gold, eclipsing compatriot and silver medallist Mackenzie Little’s personal best of 64.27 in the process.
‘Disco’ gets the rig out!
Aaron Wilson claimed his second successive Commonwealth Games gold in the men’s singles lawn bowls, backing up his Gold Coast gold with another in Birmingham. What was even better though was the celebration of Wilson – or ‘disco’ – taking his shirt off and running wildly.
Wilson cemented his status as a cult hero, lamenting “I wish I had a better rig,” in his postgame interview.