Team England’s young athletes continued to impress at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games, winning a further 17 medals and claiming some PBs for good measure on Day 4 of the Games.
On the final day of competition for England’s swimmers, the team brought home a further three gold medals, two bronze and two silver, leaving England’s swimming team with a total of 25 medals at this year’s Commonwealth Youth Games.
Georgia Darwent, from Newcastle, led from the start of the 16-lap women’s 800m freestyle final and claimed the gold medal with a new personal best of 8:45:85. Edward Baxter, from Cockermouth, managed to stay calm and storm away from the pack in the men’s 200m breaststroke, winning gold with a new personal best time.
Layla Black continued her excellent performance with another gold, this time in the women’s 200m breaststroke. Joe Litchfield saved his best till last as he clinched silver in the men’s 200 individual medley. The final silver on day 4 came from Brittany Horton, Layla Black, Tazmin Pugh and Georgina Boyle in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay.
In the men’s 4 x 100m medley relay, Perry Gardner, Edward Baxter, Kyle Chisholm and Lewis Clough fought hard to finish with a bronze medal. Tazmin Pugh, swimming in the women’s 200m individual medley, managed to finish with a bronze medal, despite the race not being one of her chosen regular events.
England swimming’s Team Leader Grant Robins reflected on the Youth Games positively saying: “As part of the Commonwealth Games movement, England should be supporting these Games. We selected our team appropriately and they swam their best and all swimmers returned with a medal.
"This meet will give them a good indication of multi-sport events and hold them in good stead for 2018 and beyond. We were up against Australia and New Zealand’s World Junior Championships team. Our selection policy didn’t allow that so we gave them a good run for their money and these swimmers will improve because of this experience.”
Day 4 marked a great day in the ring for England’s boxers, with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. Mohammed Harris Akbar won gold with a stunning display of accuracy and movement against Northern Ireland’s Brett McGinty. Ben Whittaker took silver in a closely-fought bout with Scotland’s John Doherty winning gold on a split decision. There was also medal success for Brandon Daord, from Birkenhead, and Sheffield’s Dalton Smith who both return home with bronze medals.
On the archery range, Lizzie Warner won her semi-final match against Malaysia, setting her up for a tilt at final glory. No 1 ranked Indian archer Prachi Singh overcame Warner 6-2 in the final to take the gold medal, with Lizzie taking silver. Lizzie Warner said: “I’m over the moon with the result at winning a Commonwealth Silver medal, I couldn’t have wished for anything better! I’m proud to have represented my country at these Games and bring a medal home for Team England.”
Over on the rugby pitches, England started strong, beating Singapore, but followed by a narrow last-minute defeat against South Africa.
George Cox, Noah Sixton and Jamie Shilcock all showed massive signs of improvement and Will Wilson typically led from the front. The semi-final against Australia was too tough a challenge in the Samoan heat for England’s young players who will be will play Samoa for bronze on day five.
The last day of competition for England’s lawn bowls team saw Bradley Coles and Ruby Hill both narrowly miss out on qualifying for the semi-finals. Ruby Hill said: “I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it takes to be the best. Bradley and I gave it our best shot but unfortunately we haven’t come home with a medal. It’s my first outdoor international event, and I’m going home hungry for more high level competition and am really thankful for the opportunity I've had here at the Commonwealth Youth Games”.
Around 1,000 athletes aged 14-18 are competing for 107 gold medals in nine sports over five days of competition in Samoa. Team England’s travelling delegation includes 60 athletes, representing eight sports (Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rugby 7s, Squash, Swimming, Weightlifting), plus coaching and support staff.
The fifth Commonwealth Youth Games is taking place in the Samoan capital city of Apia. England has attended all previous Commonwealth Youth Games, always finishing within the top three nations.
Some of England’s highest profile sports stars have appeared at the Commonwealth Youth Games including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Beth Tweddle, Danny Cipriani, Zoe Smith and James DeGale. The Games provide a number of England’s emerging talent with their first exposure to an international, multi-sport environment.