BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Australia’s double world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber has again played the waiting game to perfection at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
After adding the 2022 world championship title in Oregon in July to her success in Doha in 2019, Barber traveled to England favored to claim her first Commonwealth gold medal.
But on the eve of the opening ceremony on July 28, she tested positive to COVID-19, putting her into isolation and casting doubt over her participation.
It was not until Thursday that the 30-year-old received clearance to compete in the event, but she said the days spent in isolation recovering from the illness did not detract from her belief.
“Mentally, I coped. I wasn’t going to let it affect my performance today,” Barber said.
Seeking to complete the full set of Games’ medals after winning a bronze in Glasgow in 2014 and a silver on the Gold Coast four years ago, Barber saved her best throw for last.
She trailed her teammate Mackenzie Little, who threw a personal best of 64.27 meters, into the last round. But Barber responded with an effort of 64.43 meters to clinch the gold medal.
It continues a theme for the Australian, whose first world title in Doha was achieved with her last throw, so too the bronze medal she claimed at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
“I had great confidence from the world (championships) and a good feel for my javelin. I trusted that process, so today I was focused and knew what I wanted to achieve here,” she said.
“I’m not going to lie. It is nice to know I have the confidence I can keep lifting through a competition and I can find something in that last round.”
Barber claimed one of the 45 gold medals on offer on the penultimate day of the 2022 Games, which includes 16 to be contested in boxing.
England won its first able-bodied gold medal on the track when the 4×100-meter men’s relay team sprinted to success over Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria.
Zharnel Hughes backed up from his second in the 200-meters final on Saturday night to run a strong second leg when seizing the advantage for England, which clocked 38.35 seconds.
“I think we did a good job with the exchanges. It ran smoothly,” he said. “Coming away with two medals, I couldn’t be any happier. To do it on home soil is spectacular.”
Nigeria claimed the women’s 4×100-meters relay gold medal from England, with Jamaican champion Elaine Thompson-Herah finishing strongly as the anchor to clinch bronze for her nation.
Australia also claimed success in cycling when Georgia Baker won the women’s road race, giving her three gold medals for the Games after wins in the velodrome in London last week.
English rider Anna Henderson tried to break the stranglehold the Australian team appeared to have on the race when making several attacks during the 112-kilometer (69.5 mile) race.
But it was to no avail. Women’s time trial gold medalist Grace Brown countered those attacks, sacrificing her own hopes when giving Baker every chance to succeed.
Henderson was critical of the Australian tactics after the race, describing them as “rubbish”. The English rider said the Australians, aware of their collective strength, rode a boring race.
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