T&T’s top international women’s distance runner Tonya Nero finished a creditable 14th in the 26.2 miles Commonwealth Games women’s marathon event on the last day of competition out at the Gold Coast, Australia yesterday.
Nero clocked two hours, 55 minutes and 14 seconds (2.55.14) well outside her national record of (2:43) for the distance established in 2012 in Belgium.
The race which was won by Namibia’s Helalia Johannes in 2:32.40 took the field of 17 along Australia Gold Coast sea line in blazing sun. The women’s race started 55 minutes before the men’s run.
After the race, Nero told Guardian Sports Media, “It was a tough today, but it was an experience that made me stronger.”
When asked about the weather conditions she responded, “It was hot, but what really bothered me more was the pain I felt in my left leg a little after the 15-mile mark and that made me adjust my pace so that I could finish the race. I gave it all I had so I’m very happy.”
She added, “The experience reminded me how easy it is to keep going. The next thing for me is to give my body some rest since it has been going through a lot since the year started.”
T&T distance running coach Dexter Voisin said, “Certainly it was a commendable performance by Tonya today, going under three hours for a Caribbean woman in the marathon is creditable on any day. This morning the conditions were not ideal and the women’s race started at 7.25 am (5.25 pm Saturday night T&T time), the sun wasted no time in showing up and it was angry, making its present felt throughout the race.”
He explained that, “Tonya ran steady and was on her race pace before she felt a discomfort on one of her legs after the 25km mark, that coupled with the extreme sun set her back somewhat in the closing miles, but it was a commendable performance.”
Meanwhile, a dramatic late-race collapse by Callum Hawkins in the men’s equivalent handed a repeat victory in the to defending champion Michael Shelley. More than two minutes ahead at 39km, Hawkins started to stagger as he ran around a bend on the road taking the runners from Surfers Paradise to the finish at Southport. He fell to the ground once, but got up and continued running until collapsing again at the 40-kilometre point. Despite several attempts, he was unable to regain his feet.
Shelley went by to win in 2:16:46, more than five minutes slower than his winning time in Glasgow four years earlier and the slowest winning time since Thabiso Moqhali won for Lesotho in 2:19:15 at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games. It was also undoubtedly the hottest Commonwealth marathon since that year.
Women’s Marathon results
1. Helalia Johannes (Namibia) 2.32.40
2. Lisa Weightman (Australia) 2.33.23
3. Jessica Trengove (Australia) 2.34.09
Richards closes the show
Reigning 2018 Commonwealth Games 200 metres men’s champion Jereem Richards was given the honour to carry the national flag at the closing ceremony of the Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia, yesterday.
“We’re glad to have Jereem carry the national flag at the closing ceremony, there are about half of the team here and as some athletes have left already. We’ve a good mix from athletics, squash, tennis and badminton, they are all still here for the closing off,” said T&T’s Chef de Mission-Dianne Henderson.
T&T’s finished in overall 18th position on the medal table with its two gold medals and a silver out of the 42 nations that medal. A total of 71 countries and nations participated in the 12-day multi-sport games.
T&T’s placing is an improvement of four places from the 22nd position it occupied in 2014.
Meanwhile, Jamaica which did not win a sprint gold medal still manage to finish as the top Caribbean country with in 11th position with 29 medals (7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze) followed by T&T, the Bahamas (4 medals), Grenada (2) while Bermuda, Guyana, British Virgin Islands, and St Lucia got one each. Australia, England and India took the top three positions with 198, 136 and 66 medals respectively.
Henderson said, “Overall from the standings we have improved in terms of the colour of the medals from 2014 not necessary the numbers (we won three medals - 2 gold and a silver here, as compared to 2014 when we won eight - 3 silver and 5 bronze medals in 2014). In terms of performances, the time of the season has been very much part of the conversation, as well as coaches, not necessarily those outside, particularly not wanting to change their programmes for these games. That’s the real situation that needs more conversation, but when you look at the teams, they all gave it their best and that is all you can ask for.”
Asked about Michelle-Lee Ahye absence from the 4x100 metres relay team, Henderson said, “The decision was made before, so we went with the athletes that were available to us and each of them fought hard out there.”
None of the medal winners Ahye, Richards and swimmer Dylan Carter will be returning home since they have returned to their bases in the USA. The beach volleyballers returned over the weekend while the other athletes and technical staff members are expected today and tomorrow.