6th April 2018
UCFB student Jack Gladman on what the Commonwealth Games has to offer for athletics fans
With the Commonwealth Games now underway Down Under, we asked UCFB Wembley student Jack Gladman to give us his thoughts ahead of the athletics schedule starting this weekend.
Jack is an experienced Team GB para-athlete, and finished 9th in the T38 1,500m World Para-Athletic Championship final in London in 2017.
With the Commonwealth Games now underway on the Gold Coast in Australia and with the athletics action kicking off in earnest on Saturday, I want to give you a brief overview of just some of the athletics events worth braving the late nights and early mornings for.
The Commonwealth Games offers a unique competition when it comes to the international spectrum of athletics, especially for home nations athletes who traditionally compete alongside each other as part of a British team suddenly becoming rivals from competing nations to set up some enthralling duals.
It’s also a unique event where both mainstream and para-athletes combine as part of one competition and one team.
On the Gold Coast this month there will be some familiar faces to athletics fans, and those that are not so familiar.
The first athletics event of the Games is the 20km race walk, taking place at 10:45pm (UK time) on Saturday, live on the BBC.
The first day of full track action takes place on Sunday at 5am, with Scotland’s Mark Dry targeting a potential medal in the men’s hammer final. Also taking place on the same morning are the heats for both the men’s and women’s 100m. The blue ribbon event of the Games is sure to be one to watch throughout its two days of action, and with the Jamaicans around it is sure to be a worthwhile watch for any athletics fan.
From 6:18am on the official timetable we get to see the first glimpse of para-athletics within the stadium. Olivia Breen, who captured gold at the 2017 London World Championships in the T38 long jump, will be appearing in her second Commonwealth Games having previously represented Wales at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, and surely must be one of the favourites to grab the gold medal here.
Another must watch event on the opening day is the semi-finals of the 100m, with the first of the women’s semi-finals and continuing through to the second men’s semi-final.
Fresh from his success over the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships on home soil in February, Andrew Pozzi will be going for gold over the 110m hurdles for England with the utmost confidence.
For those looking for wheelchair racing action, the T54 1,500m heats begin at 3am on the second day, with the second heat being contested ten minutes later.
Another GB Paralympian, this time out to represent Wales, is world record javelin holder Hollie Arnold. She will be participating in one of the duals of the Games with rival Holly Richardson from New Zealand. Arnold beat Richardson on the way to the world record breaking performance in the 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships in London.
Home favourite and world champion Evan O’Hanlon, who came out of retirement after Rio heartbreak in 2016, will be looking to spur himself on to Gold Coast glory in front of a home crowd in the T38 100m.
At 10:25am, English interest will be peaked by Jessica Judd, Katie Snowden and Sarah McDonnell who all go in the 1,500m heats.
The women’s T35 100m final taking place on Wednesday 11th April is perhaps one of the most loaded events of the games. Maria Lyle, a former world record holder, lines up against Australian rival and Paralympic champion Isis Holt, as well as two debutants – a fellow Stevenage athlete like myself Maria Verdille and team Bath athlete Daphne Schrager. The race is sure to be an occasion that none of these athletes will ever forget.
There are a number of standout events the following day – the women’s 400m hurdles final will hopefully feature Scotland’s Eidih Doyle, and world record holder Sophie Hahn goes in the T38 women’s 100m. Could we possibly see that world record lowered even further on the Gold Coast? Wales’ Livvy Breen will also be back to see if she can challenge for a medal in the same event.
The final event of the evening may interest many English fans with Kyle Langford trying to capitalise on his outstanding fourth-place finish at the London 2017 World Championships in the 800m and go one better to grab a medal here.
The first relay action at the Games gets underway at 1:35am on the Friday with the women’s 4 x 100m first round heats, shortly followed by the men’s heats. Scottish medal hope Jake Wightman will then go in the men’s 1,500m heats.
The relay finals dominate the final Saturday of action with the 4 x 100m men’s final kicking off at 5:40am and the women’s following at roughly 5:55am.
One for the Scottish fans to look out for is the remarkable story of Sammi Kinghorn, who did the double in the T53 100m and 200m races at last year’s World Para-Athletics Championships, but makes the meteoric jump up to the marathon to compete on the Gold Coast in the T54 event. Could she possibly bring home a remarkable gold medal for Scotland?
The Commonwealth Games promises to be an amazing experience, whether you are a five-time world champion or making your debut at your first Games, to every athlete competing in Australia it will be a memory they will never forget. So as we sit back and enjoy the action they get to live it – good luck to everyone competing.