Australia’s female sprint relay team sets world record

April 5, 2018
Australia's women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay team celebrate after winning the gold medal at the Aquatic Centre during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Australia’s swim team saved its best for last on the first night in the pool at the Commonwealth Games.

Sisters Bronte and Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon and Shayna Jack clocked a time of 3 minutes, 30.05 seconds to break the world record in the 4x100-meter women’s freestyle relay.

That broke the mark of 3:30.65 the Aussies — including the Campbells and McKeon — clocked at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

Canada finished second, nearly four seconds behind. England took the bronze, more than eight seconds behind Australia.

Cate Campbell said 10,000-strong home crowd at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

“It was beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “My coach said ‘the atmosphere out there is electric, go out, soak it up.’ I think that is what we have done.”

The Australians haven’t lost the event at a Commonwealth Games since 1994, at Victoria, Canada.

Earlier, Olympic champion Mack Horton won the 400-meter freestyle and was joined by Canada’s Taylor Ruck and Aimee Willmott and James Wilby of England as gold medal winners in the four individual events.

Under a mostly clear night sky at the open-air stadium, Ruck held off a fast-charging Ariarne Titmus of Australia in the 200-meter freestyle. McKeon, swimming the first of an expected six events during the six-day program, took the bronze.

Ruck has been on a hot streak, winning four races in early March in Atlanta, including the 200 freestyle. The 17-year-old Ruck also won two medals at the Rio Olympics and is one Canada’s best young swimmers.

She thought that Titmus had beaten her at the wall.

“Then I looked up at the board and I saw that I’d won,” she said shortly after receiving her gold medal from Prince Charles, who is representing his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the games.

“I think I’m still in shock. I don’t think I’ve quite come down yet.”

Horton added a Commonwealth gold to his Olympic title, easily winning the 400 in 3:43.76, about 1.5 seconds ahead of Australian teammate Jack McLoughlin. James Guy of England took the bronze.

“I probably feel more emotion here than in Rio because the whole crowd is cheering for you,” Horton said. “That didn’t happen so much in Rio. Ten thousand people cheering for you is pretty unreal.”

In the opening race of the night, Willmott ended Scotland’s Hannah Miley’s two-Games reign as 400-meter individual medley champion by taking gold in a time of 4:34.90.

Miley, who won the 400 IM at both the New Delhi Games in 2010 and four years later at Glasgow, had to settle for silver in 4:35.16. Blair Evans of Australia took the bronze.

“I’ve raced against Hannah in every meet and I’ve been second every time,” Willmott said. “I knew that this time it could have been me if I just swam the race a little bit better.”

Miley wasn’t upset with the silver.

“It’s my fourth games, third time on the podium for the same event,” Miley said. “I pride myself on being tough and stubborn and not giving up.”

England picked up its second gold of the evening when Wilby beat Glasgow defending champion Ross Murdoch of Scotland in the 200-meter breaststroke. Australian Matt Willis took the bronze.

There was some controversy in the morning qualifying when world champion Ben Proud was disqualified from the 50-meter butterfly at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday and lost an appeal against the decision.

Proud, who is also the reigning Commonwealth champion in the 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle, won his preliminary heat by nearly a body length but that was annulled after a referee disqualified the Englishman for movement on the starting blocks.

Proud challenged the decision but it was upheld by an independent appeals board.

“I am in the shape of my life and am gutted to miss out on the opportunity to show what I can do,” Proud said.

Chad le Clos of South Africa, now the gold-medal favorite in the race with Proud out, was the fastest semifinalist to quality for Friday’s final.

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