On the final day of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, came one of Team England’s greatest triumphs of this year’s Games, as the women’s netball team conquered top-seed Australia with a last-gasp goal to clinch their first ever gold at a major tournament.
This phenomenal achievement capped a fitting final day on the Gold Coast, as England stacked up 13 total medals on day 11, taking their overall tally at the Games to 136.
England embarked on a remarkable fourth quarter comeback as they slashed a four-goal deficit, with goal shooter Helen Housby scoring the winner on the buzzer to send the team into a flurry of emotion.
“I feel like I should be happier or crying,” a still-dazed Ama Agbeze said. “A cultural thing in our team is having fun and that’s one thing that Tracey had to step back on. You have to be relaxed,” she continued, before breathlessly stating: “I do love netball”.
There was equal success in the badminton earlier in the morning, as Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge swept past their Indian counterparts to claim England’s first men’s doubles title in 40 years, while husband and wife Gabby and Chris Adcock prevailed in the mixed doubles in an all-English final, with Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis taking silver.
Ellis and Langridge were dominant against the second-seeded Indian duo, winning both sets by a margin of eight and five points, respectively.
Speaking to the media afterwards, a breathless Ellis explained: “It would have been disheartening if I had to go home without a gold,” while Langridge beamed: “I’ve been waiting for this one”.
The Carrara saw more Team England action, with Sarah Walker and Lauren Smith putting up a valiant fight against the heavy Malaysian favourites, but they ultimately lost in straight sets and instead had to settle for silver.
Daryl Selby and Adrian Waller took their gold medal match against the hosts right down to the wire, but they couldn’t hold on to beat the experienced Australian pair, losing two sets to one. Selby and Waller can be immensely proud of their performances throughout this tournament, this being their major debut as a pairing, and they took nine-time Commonwealth medallist David Palmer and teammate Zac Alexander to a decisive third game and came away from their first Games with a silver medal.
Another pairing, Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho, replicated their success in Glasgow by taking the mixed doubles silver with the first table tennis final of the day.
Team England’s closing ceremony flag bearer Jade Jones-Hall picked up her second medal of the Games following her gold on Day 3 in the women’s PTWC marathon, as she clinched bronze in the women’s T54 marathon, narrowly missing out on gold by just 20 seconds. Jades’ success was mirrored by countrymen Johnboy Smith (silver) and Simon Lawson (bronze) who pushed out Canadian Tristan Smyth to finish on the podium.
“I'm really shattered now, but it was a great race,” an exhausted Jones-Hall exclaimed. “To come away with the gold in (the triathlon) and then the bronze here is just amazing. It was easily the best marathon I've ever done in my life.”
There was also success in the men’s and women’s rugby sevens, as both teams were victorious in their respective bronze medal matches. There was particular joy surrounding the women’s match, as the Englishwomen etched themselves into the history books by taking a medal in the inaugural women’s rugby sevens event in Commonwealth history.
In a bid for another medal, Gold Coast medallist James Willstrop – joined by World No. 25 Declan James – clinched the bronze medal after emerging victorious against their Scottish opponents, prevailing 11-9, 11-9 to sweep the bronze medal match.