In a closing ceremony that celebrated Australia’s rich and diverse culture, versatile song and boisterous atmosphere, the 2018 Commonwealth Games has drawn to an apt close.
Culture was certainly the word on the lips of those representing Team England, as the women’s netball team etched themselves into Commonwealth history by winning their first ever gold medal just a few hours prior.
Having qualified for their first ever final in a major tournament, the Roses went one further by toppling top seeds Australia with a buzzer-beating goal in a nail-biting finale. Helen Housby scored the winning goal with no time left on the clock to settle the score, 52-51 in England’s favour, a moment that is sure to live long in the memories of all who witnessed the historic feat.
All in all, the Games at the Gold Coast was certainly one to remember for Team England and sport enthusiasts in general for a multitude of reasons, spanning from mouth-watering solo performances, to smashing decade-old records.
A whopping medal haul of 136 saw the nation enjoy its second-best gold medal tally at an overseas Games in Commonwealth history, while it also far surpassed an Australian Games, a record held since 1982.
A resounding 24 medals were taken in the pool as England’s swimmers found their stroke like ducks to water in the Optus Aquatic Centre, with nine of the aforementioned medals being gold.
Among the gold medallists were Aimee Willmott and James Wilby, whose stunning individual performances sent ripples through the swimming world.
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor also nabbed a bit of history herself in the water, as she became the first women in Commonwealth history to defend her 200m individual medley title.
With a home games to look forward to in four years time, a new generation of Team England athletes came to the fore on the Gold Coast, their performances leaving us a lot to look forward to in 2022.
This was exemplified by a host of teenagers racking up podium finishes, with Thomas Hamer (19) and Ellie Robinson (16) leading by stellar example as gold medallists. But one thing you can’t omit when discussing young athletes is the women’s artistic gymnastics team, who have an average age of just 17 years of age, four of whom were Commonwealth debutants.
Taeja James (15) was the youngest English medallist at the Gold Coast as her and Georgia-Mae Fenton (17), who took gold in the uneven bars, Lucy Stanhope (16), Alice Kinsella (17), who clinched an extra gold and bronze in the individual events, and Kelly Simm (22) all secured silver in the team event.
Following on from Hamer and Robinson’s victories, it was a hugely successful Games for Team England’s 41 para-athletes, 16 of whom came away with medals draped around their necks and a total of 19 para-medals won.
Jade Jones-Hall embodied this success, as she was elected to be Team England’s flag-bearer after her triumph in the para-triathlon and her bronze-winning performance in the T45 marathon.
In the velodrome, 22-year-old Sophie Thornhill and her pilot, Helen Scott, broke their own world record in the women’s B&VI 1000m time trial as well as snatching gold in the B&VI sprint to clinch a clean sweep for the para-cycler.
In the boxing ring, Team England’s success won unanimous praise across all weight classes by adding nine medals to the tally.
The team have raked in more medals with each successive Commonwealth Games, securing two more than at Glasgow four years prior and four more than New Delhi in 2010. A refreshing showcase of England’s boxing brilliance.
A resounding stat reads that nine of the 12 boxers sent to the Games claimed a medal, with two thirds of the aforementioned being gold, courtesy of some sensational performances.
England’s dominance in the women’s 69kg category was reinstated with Sandy Ryan’s gold medal against home nation rival Rosie Eccles, while an emotional Lisa Whiteside stood victorious at the tender age of 32.
Amongst the other medalists in this event include twin brothers Pat and Luke McCormack, Paige Murney, Galal Yafai, Peter McGrail, Frazer Clarke and Chev Clarke as England can return home firmly at the forefront of the boxing world.
James Willstrop played in his third consecutive Commonwealth final for the men’s squash singles to claim his first gold. In what was potentially his last Commonwealth match, the 34-year-old provided a strong performance against New Zealand’s Paul Coll to win in straight sets.
Jack Laugher landed a sizzling hat-trick in the men’s diving finals, to enhance his status as one of England’s diving talismans. He won gold in all the events he competed in to improve his record set in Glasgow, claiming gold in the 1m springboard, 3m springboard and the 3m synchronised finals.
Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge made a little bit of history of their own by winning their men’s doubles final in badminton. The win marks the first men’s doubles title for England in over 40 years, as the pair took on India in a heated but victorious final.
One of England’s best ever shooters, David Luckman, brought his gold medal tally up to six in the past four years, as he followed on his Queen’s Pairs and Individual victory in Glasgow with a double gold on the Gold Coast.
Liam Pitchford bagged a total of three medals for Team England across the games, including a men’s doubles gold with teammate Paul Drinkhall, who himself extended his Commonwealth medal tally to six.
Nile Wilson proved to be the golden goose of the competition, winning three golds and two silvers in the artistic gymnastics. Having only made his Commonwealth debut in Glasgow, the achievements made at the Gold Coast showcase the potential and future that the young athlete possesses.
The Gold Coast played host to the first ever Commonwealth women’s rugby sevens tournament, in which the England team duly claimed a place on the podium with a bronze.
The women’s basketball team landed a solid silver as their first ever medal accrued in the games. One of the Game’s most unexpected outcomes off the court saw men’s basketball player Jamell Anderson propose to Georgia Jones after the former’s win over Mozambique. The proposal saw the entire men’s team take part, including Jones’ older brother Callum, in a heartwarming display of team camaraderie.
As the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games come to an end, the light on the horizon for English sport is burning brighter than ever, with the Commonwealth keys being handed to Birmingham for the 2022 Games. A home Games brings with it the promise of a lot of medals, a lot of support and an incredible amount of English sporting pride.