Commonwealth Games: England’s laughter defends diving gold


England jumper Jack Laugher extended his dominance in the one-meter springboard event on Thursday to take his third consecutive gold at the Commonwealth Games.

The 27-year-old Laugher, who was England’s flag-bearer at last week’s opening ceremony, continued a run that also included gold at Glasgow 2014 and Australia’s Gold Coast four years ago.

He had been below his best in the morning preliminary rounds but was at his peak form by the middle of the six rounds to take control and later credited the threat of Australian diver Shixin Li as an inspiration for him.

Laugher, who won Olympic gold in the 3-meter synchronized skating at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, scored a total of 447.05 points, beating Li by 10 points. Bronze went to England’s Jordan Houlden.

“I was under a lot of pressure trying to defend this title, which I’ve had for eight years now,” Laugher said. “I think I was wrong this morning. I tried to give in to the crowd a little too much. I’m quite introverted in the way I compete and how I normally am.

“So this afternoon I tried not to get too involved with the crowd… until the sixth dive. I knew it was good and then I got to join the crowd and enjoy it.”

Cyclist Geraint Thomas, winner of the 2018 Tour de France, fell early in the individual time trial at Wolverhampton and hit a barrier on a sweeping corner. Thomas was able to get back on his bike and recovered well to take the bronze medal behind winner Rohan Dennis, a two-time world time trial champion.

“I just went into the corner a bit too hot. (I have) only myself to blame. After that I took it too hard with all the adrenaline,” said Thomas.

Dennis, who scored a clean win in the individual time trial for Australia after Grace Brown won the women’s race the previous Thursday, was unaware of his rival’s misfortune.

“It’s better if I don’t know the stuff,” he said. “I tried not to think about anyone else, but at the finish I heard that he had a mishap in the first three to five (kilometres). It’s a shame. You never like to see someone come down.”

In track and field, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah returned to Alexander Stadium just over 12 hours after her 100-meter triumph on Wednesday night.

A two-time Olympic champion in the 200m, she qualified second fastest for Friday’s semifinals with an easy heat win in 22.80 seconds.

LaQuan Nairn of the Bahamas won the men’s long jump ahead of India’s Murali Sreeshankar. Both jumped 8.08 meters, but the gold medal went to Nairn as his second jump was longer than Sreeshankar’s.

Athletics events in Birmingham have been hit by a number of cancellations.

Due to the event’s proximity to the Oregon World Championships in late July and other key events, Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce decided against racing.

But injuries and illnesses are also a problem as the Australian team was impacted by the retirement of three medal contenders.

Stewart McSweyn, a finalist in the 1500m final in Tokyo, did not take his place in the morning qualifiers due to flu.

Kathryn Mitchell, the Gold Coast javelin gold medalist four years ago, was also banned from attending Birmingham.

Athletics Australia said Mitchell was suffering from an unknown virus which she contracted while traveling from the United States.

Ash Moloney, who won a bronze medal in the decathlon at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, was unable to compete due to injury.

But 2019 world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber has been cleared to compete by Australian officials after recovering from COVID-19.

Earlier, Jamaica caused a big upset in netball when they defeated gold medal favorites Australia to reach the semifinals with a 57-55 comeback win.

Jamaica captain Jhaniele Fowler, who plays in Australia for Perth’s West Coast Fever, scored 47 goals in 50 tries.

“Beating Australia at the Commonwealth Games is a bit surreal,” she said. “We’ve never done that before but this team of ours is incredible and we went out there and proved everyone wrong and it feels so good.

After two Sri Lankan athletes and a trainer went missing on Monday, West Midland Police said two had been found but that a male wrestler was still missing. The Sri Lankan team had ordered athletes and officials to surrender their passports after the wrestler, a judoku and a judoku coach fled on Monday.

All three Sri Lankans have valid visas to stay in the UK for 180 days.

Sri Lanka, which brought a 161-strong team including 51 officials to Birmingham, is in the midst of an economic crisis.