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Victorious Victor as Harry wins hearts of the crowd

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Friday, 05 August 2022 15:10
Grenada decathlete holds off Aussie duo as home crowd throw their support behind English hope Kendall, while Nathan Maguire storms to wheelchair racing gold in Birmingham

Lindon Victor successfully defended his Commonwealth crown in the decathlon but only after a slightly nerve-wracking 1500m where third-placed Daniel Golubovic made a bold bid for glory that ultimately took him past Cedric Dubler and into second place but fell 36 points short of Victor’s winning score of 8233.

Harry Kendall of England finished ‘only’ sixth overall but the 25-year-old won the hearts of the spectators in the Alexander Stadium. Whipping the crowd into cheering the decathletes, the Alexander Stadium erupted with noise as he finished strongly to nab second place in the 1500m. Midway through the final day, too, he helped encourage a large section of the stadium to stay around when nothing else was happening in the arena to watch the pole vault.

The Kent athlete dislocated his ankle six weeks before the Games, too, and was in a race against time to get fit enough to compete. On the huge home support, he said: “It’s like playing Mario Kart and driving over a mushroom, you get a boost. You would be silly not to use it.

“Obviously coming into this, my first major champs, no one knows who I am. They are just happy I’m wearing an England vest so hopefully I can raise the profile of decathlon in this country.”

This two-day contest belonged to Victor, though. The Grenada athlete led overnight with 4327 points after results that included 10.76 in the 100m, 7.46m in the long jump, 15.48m for the shot put, 2.03m for the high jump and 49.51 for 400m.

On day two he began with 14.89 in the 110m hurdles, then 46.54m in the discus, 4.70m in the pole vault, 65.16m in the javelin and held on for the overall win with a gritty 4:51.60 in the 1500m as he kept Golubovic’s growing lead under control.

“I’m just honoured to be in Birmingham again,” said Victor. “The last time I was here for the world indoor championships [in 2018], I did not finish then so to finish this meet and to finish with a gold, I’m blessed.

“Ahead of the 1500m [the last event], I just thought, ‘Don’t relinquish the lead. Run as hard as you need to win’, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Runner-up Golubovic, who had been in fifth place overnight, scored 8197 while fellow Australian Dubler scored 8030. Kendall scored 7480 but athletics fans will look forward to seeing him again when he’s fully fit.

Nathan Maguire (Mark Shearman)

Maguire races to gold

Para athletics have surely not received such noisy applause since the days of London 2012 and on Friday night at the Alexander Stadium there was another rip-roaring performance in the T54 1500m when Nathan Maguire took gold in 3:11.83 ahead of English team-mate Daniel Sidbury.

Maguire, 25, is the partner of wheelchair racing legend Hannah Cockroft, who also won gold at these Games earlier in the week. He bided his time during the race as Sidbury forced the pace and built what briefly appeared to be a winning lead with 300m to go. Then he pounced coming into the home straight with a powerful drive for the finish that no one could match.

Zharnel Hughes, Matt Hudson-Smith, Vicky Ohuruogu impress

Zharnel Hughes led the qualifiers for the men’s 200m final as he cruised to 20.32 (2.1) in the first semi although his English team-mate Adam Gemili went out with 20.97 (1.9) for fourth in the second semi.

Victoria Ohuruogu looked similarly strong in the women’s 400m semi-finals as she won her race in 51.00 with fellow English athletes Ama Pipi and Jodie Williams plus Scotland’s Zoey Clark also making Sunday’s final.

A couple of days after winning the 100m title, Elaine Thompson-Herah led the women’s 200m qualifiers for the final when she won her semi in 22.63 (1.5). Favour Ofili of Nigeria with 22.66 (1.9) and Christine Mboma of Namibia with 22.93 (0.0) also impressed as Beth Dobbin of Scotland became the only athlete from the home nations to reach the final with 23.28 (1.3) for third in Thompson-Herah’s race.

One of the biggest cheers of the night came in the last men’s 400m semi-final when Matt Hudson-Smith, a member of host club Birchfield Harriers, coasted to victory in 45.77. In British record-breaking form this season, he goes into Sunday’s final as favourite for gold.

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