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Commonwealth Games (10)

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Mark Lewis-Francis

12 October 2010

England secured gold medals in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays as the curtain came down on the athletics action in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The men’s quartet of Ryan Scott (Lloyd Cowan), 200m champion Leon Baptiste (Michael Khmel), Marlon Devonish (Tony Lester) and 100m silver medallist Mark Lewis-Francis (Linford Christie) romped to victory in 38.75.

Just as he did at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Lewis-Francis collected the baton from Devonish before storming home to take gold to collect his third major medal of 2010 as Jamaica took silver and India captured bronze.

“For me, this is amazing. It’s been such a long season but it’s been rewarding to the end and I’m so grateful to be here,” said Lewis-Francis.

“I could feel the determination and it reminded me of 2004. This is pinnacle, the goal, and winning golds are what it’s all about.”

For Baptiste, it’s a second gold medal of the Games – and he admitted he is now in desperate need of a rest.

“It’s been an incredible championship for me, to get gold is amazing. The boys done us proud but I was disappointed with how I ran out there,” said Baptiste.

“I was so tired but I want to thank the medical staff for even getting me out there because it was touch and go for a long time and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be today.”

Devonish, who was fifth in the 200m, insisted he was happy to be leaving Delhi with a medal.

“In this year, there have been a lot of downs for me, and it’s a blessing to come here and get a gold medal and I’m really happy,” said Devonish.

“Not to be big headed but when it comes to European and Commonwealth Games years, I tend to get a medal so I’m real happy to get one here.”

Scott added: “There’s always pressure for us to get the gold and we knew we had to go out and do it. I’m so glad we pulled it off and we’re going home with gold.”

It rounded off an excellent half an hour for England after Katherine Endacott (Linford Christie), Montell Douglas (Ayo Falola), Laura Turner (Linford Christie) and Abi Oyepitan (Tony Lester) also collected 4x100m gold.

Endacott got the ball rolling and handed over to 100m British record holder Douglas.

Douglas made up for her individual disappointment at failing to reach the final with a blistering leg before handing over to Laura Turner, who had a point to prove after she was disqualified from the 100m final.

Turner maintained England's sizeable lead before handing over to Oyepitan, who brought home gold to add to her 200m silver as the quartet clocked a combined time of 44.19.

"This has been an amazing championships and that lap of honour was great," said Oyepitan.

"I really wanted to come out and win this one so I'm so happy for all of the girls I was so nervous because I haven't done relay for about six years.”

Silver went to Ghana in 45.24 while India secured bronze in 45.25 and Endacott was overjoyed at claiming her second medal of the Games.

“That was so sweet and it was most definitely the best moment of my life. We were all in good shape and looking really sharp and I’m going to be so emotional on the podium,” she said.

Turner, meanwhile, was delighted to make up for her individual 100m disappointment.

“The other run is all in the past now,” she said. “I’ve put it behind me and I’m enjoying the moment.

“I really gave it my all in that race and the girls were all so brilliant, we ran our hearts out. It’s a great feeling, I’m so happy for all the girls.”

Meanwhile, while there were two golds for England in the sprint relays, there were two bronzes for England in the 4x400m relays.

In the men’s race, the quartet of Conrad Williams (Linford Christie), Nick Leavey (Simon Duberley), Richard Yates (Stephen Ball) and Rob Tobin (Todd Bennett) crossed the line in 3:03.97 behind Australia, who took gold and silver medallists Kenya.

Tobin took over from Yates in second place but could not hold off the late charge from Kenya’s Mark Mutai and his injury-hit season finally told.

“As I was coming in to the straight I thought I had time to do it but I think the problems I’ve had showed in the end,” said Tobin.

“Obviously, I couldn’t bring it home for the boys but we got a medal so I’m happy with that. I didn’t think I was even going to make the team so to come back with a medal is fantastic.”

Williams, part of the quartet that won European silver for Great Britain in Barcelona this summer, was delighted to return to the podium again.

“I love running the first leg, it was good conditions and even though we knew we had a hard race,” he said. “We knew what we had to do to for the team to get through it and we knew the Australian’s were going to come on strong.”

Yates added: “I wanted to just get us going to as strong a start as possible and give us the best possible chance later on.”

While Leavey admitted it was the ideal way to end the season.

“It was a fun race and I’m enjoying my running, staying away from injuries and things are going well at the moment,” he said.

The Wales foursome of 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rhys Williams (Malcolm Arnold), Joe Thomas (Arwyn Davies), Chris Gowell and Gareth Warburton (Darrell Maynard) finished sixth in a time of 3:06.91.

In the women’s race, Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball), Vicki Barr (Ayo Falola), Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) and Nadine Okyere (Joe Caines) captured bronze in 3:29.51 as silver went to Nigeria and gold to India.

Massey said: “It’s just absolutely insane, the atmosphere here, the people and the noise they make.

“The girls were amazing and if we get boosted by a crowd like this I can’t wait to find out what it’s going to be like in London in two years.”

Barr added: “This is just the perfect way to end the season and we always knew we could get a medal in this race. We had to fight and fight for it but it was superb.”

Beesley, who finished seventh in the 400m hurdles final, said: “I was so happy to get through the 400m and I can’t believe we got the medal. It’s amazing and the girls were brilliant.”

And Okyere added: “It was amazing out there and it was so good to India in the race with such a massive crowd.

“They make a lot more noise which spurs you on even if they aren’t cheering for you.”

The Scotland quartet of Gemma Nicol, Eilidh Child (Stuart Hogg), Kathryn Evans and Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins) were sixth in 3:30.91.

Elsewhere, Kate Dennison (Steve Rippon) claimed pole vault bronze but admitted it was not the medal she wanted, after managing a best clearance of 4.25.

“There was not a lot left in the tank and I think I struggled with the competition being on the last night of the Games. I’m not trying to make excuses but it’s been a long season,” said Dennison.

“It’s a medal and it’s my first Commonwealth one so that’s a positive and I’ve got to start somewhere. I’ll take the good things from this. I feel like it’s a stepping stone for me to go on to better things in the future.”

Meanwhile, England’s Emma Lyons (Scott Simpson) was seventh after clearing 4.10 while Welsh duo Sally Peake (Scott Simpson) and Bryony Raine (Scott Simpson) finished eighth and 12th with best efforts of 3.95 and 3.80 respectively. Scotland’s Henrietta Paxton (Alan Richardson) failed to register a mark.

In the women’s 5000m, Scotland’s Steph Twell (Mick Woods) confirmed herself as best of the rest as she came home fourth behind a Kenyan 1-2-3, led by Vivian Cheruiyot.

World champion Cheriuyot crossed the line in 15.55.12 while compatriot Sylvia Kibet was second in 15.55.61 and Ines Chenonge took bronze.

But Twell, who finished strongly and 1.44 behind Chenonge, already has 1500m bronze to her name in Delhi – and the 21-year-old insists there is plenty more to come next year.

“As a whole, it’s just a special feeling. I’m just excited. It’s a testament to the years of work which I’ve put in and I feel like I’m achieved something special here,” said Twell.

England’s Charlotte Purdue (Mick Woods) finished sixth in 16:16.13 while Freya Murray of Scotland was a further place back in 16:26.22.

England’s Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore) almost added a triple jump bronze to his medal collection after leaping 16.96 to finish fourth.

Douglas held a medal place until Cameroon’s Lucien Mamba Schlick produced a new national record of 17.14 to take silver and relegate the English athlete to third.

Teammate Larry Achike’s (Frank Attoh) opening jump of 16.59 proved to be his best and was good enough to finish seventh.

In the men’s 1500m final, gold went to Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat in a time of 3:41.78 while England’s Andy Baddeley (Andrew Hobdell) managed sixth place in 3:43.33 and his teammate Tom Lancashire (Norman Poole) was eighth in 3:43.58 and Wales’ James Thie (Self) was one place 0.67 further back in ninth.

And the men’s javelin had a strong Antipodean flavour to it with Australia’s Jarrod Bannister (81.71) taking the gold medal ahead of New Zealand’s Stuart Farquhar (78.15) in second.

Local favourite Kashinath Naik (74.29) completed the podium while Lee Doran (John Davies) was the highest home nation finisher, ending fifth with a throw of 72.56.

Welshman Doran was closely followed by Scotland’s James Campbell (Mick Hill) who was sixth with a best of 72.04.