Doctors blame warm up pool as two Australians pull out and another 50 swimmers fall sick at Commonwealth Games.
|Huegill’s weight ballooned after he retired but he completed an incredible comeback to win Commonwealth gold [AFP]|
The old and new of Australian swimming were at their brilliant best as Leisel Jones won yet another Commonwealth Games gold and 15-year-old Yolane Kukla claimed her first.
Meanwhile Geoff Huegill capped his remarkable comeback from a heavyweight retirement on Friday by reclaiming the Commonwealth Games 100m butterfly title he first won 12 years ago.
The 31-year-old, who retired after the 2004 Athens Olympics before ballooning to 140kg, rolled back the years with a storming victory at the Dr SP Mukherjee pool.
“Words can’t describe how I feel,” Huegill said after racing to victory in 51.69 seconds.
“I’ve finally put together the perfect race. I knew I was going fast but not that fast.
“The last time I swam that quickly was 10 years ago. It just goes to show that there is still hope for all the old buggers out there. It’s awesome to be back.”
Jones, 25, won the 100 metre breaststroke final to become the first athlete to win two Games events three times in a row following her success in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday.
“Oh really? I didn’t know that,” Jones said when told of her ‘double-treble’ achievement.
Her surprise is understandable considering the number of medals and world records Jones has racked up since she was first selected for the Australian team at 14.
With the 4×100 metre medley relay to come on Saturday, the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion has the opportunity to win her 10th Commonwealth Games gold medal and equal the mark of Australian swimming greats Ian Thorpe and Susie O’Neill.
“Words can’t describe how I feel. I’ve finally put together the perfect race”
Geoff Huegill, Australian 100m butterfly gold
“I’d love to, that would be great,” Jones said, smiling.
“It would be nice to be up there with those sorts of names … a real honour.”
Like Jones, Kukla was first called up to the team at 14 and at a half-full Dr SP Mukherjee Aquatic Centre she showed why, powering to victory in a tight splash-and-dash 50m freestyle ahead of England’s Fran Halsall.
“I screamed a little, I was like ‘oh my God’ but yeah, I was really happy about it,” the Brisbane schoolgirl said.
Kukla, another Australian swimmer to suffer a bout of the Delhi-belly stomach complaint earlier in the week, spoke of the anxiety she had to overcome before the race.
“I was really nervous but I always get really nervous before, my hands were like burning a bit, I don’t know why, but yeah very nervous,” she said.
Halsall, who won the 50m butterfly on Tuesday, was full of praise for the young victor.
“She did really well, for 15 to win a Commonwealth Games title is incredible.”
There was controversy at the archery as Englishwoman Amy Oliver criticised a noisy and “unsporting” home crowd after her team lost to India in the final of the Commonwealth Games women’s team recurve event.
The Indian team of Dola Banerjee, Deepika Kumari and Bombayala Devi pulled off a last-gasp win after Oliver could manage only a six with her last arrow.
While most of the events at the Delhi Games have been played out in front of sparse crowds, the Yamuna Sports Complex was full of local fans eager to make themselves heard.
“I was nervous, the crowd was not good,” Oliver said.
“They were pretty loud and it was not good sportsmanship for archery.”