Athletes banned; protesters arrested at Commonwealth Games
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya made it a middle-distance double at the Commonwealth Games, winning the 800 meters on Friday to follow up on her earlier victory in the 1,500.
Semenya, who won the 800 at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finished in 1 minute, 56.68 seconds, nearly 1.5 seconds faster than Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya, who took the silver in 1:58.07. Natoya Goule of Jamaica finished third in 1:58.82.
Semenya said after her double she may even consider expanding her race repertoire to 10,000 meters.
”I feel I can fit into distance running,” she said. ”For me, this is more than a game.”
Earlier Friday, the banning of two Indian competitors for breaching the `no-needles’ policy at the athletes village and the arrest of some protesters overshadowed the start of the day.
Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin said triple jumper Rakesh Babu and race walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi had been banned from the games and ordered to return home immediately. Needles had been found in the room they shared at the village.
Babu had qualified for the triple jump final and was due to compete on Saturday. Thodi finished 13th in the 20-kilometer race walk last Sunday.
Up to five protesters were arrested and one man was in the hospital following a confrontation with police at an open shopping mall at Broadbeach, which is hosting numerous cultural activities relating to the games.
A group of indigenous activists had earlier been attempting to disrupt a live broadcast of the Seven Network’s Sunrise program. In March, the program aired a segment on the welfare of indigenous children that has angered Aboriginal leaders who described it as racist. Activists have staged protests during the games to highlight the issues of disadvantaged Aboriginal people.
In other news Friday from around the games:
INDIA OUT OF MEN’S FIELD HOCKEY
New Zealand beat India 3-2 to advance to the men’s field hockey final against Australia, which defeated England 2-1. India, which won silver medals at the last two Commonwealth Games, has won Olympic gold medals eight times but is now the sixth-ranked team in the world.
No. 1-ranked Australia has won the gold medal five consecutive times since field hockey was included at the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
SURPRISE SILVER FOR ADAMS
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand had to settle for silver in the shot put after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2006, 2010 and 2014. In her first major meet since having a baby last year, Adams threw 18.70 meters on her first attempt and held the lead for most of the final. In the end, though, Jamaican Danniel Thomas-Dodd produced a shot of 19.36 to win the gold.
AUSTRALIA, ENGLAND INTO WOMEN’S BASKETBALL FINAL
Dallas Stars’ WNBA recruit Liz Cambage scored 21 points despite playing less than half the game to lead Australia to a 109-50 win over New Zealand and a gold medal final against England on Saturday. Earlier, Rachael Vanderwal scored 20 points to lead England to a 65-53 win over Canada.
DEBUT FOR WOMEN’S RUGBY SEVENS
Women’s rugby sevens made its Commonwealth Games debut, and players from the top four teams at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 won their opening matches. Olympic champion Australia beat Wales 34-5, silver medalist New Zealand overwhelmed Kenya 45-0 and bronze medalist Canada beat South Africa 29-0. England, which formed part of the Britain team which lost to Canada for bronze at Rio, beat Fiji 17-5.
New Zealand, Canada and Australia later won their second matches, with Australia ending England’s unbeaten run with a 29-12 victory.
Men’s rugby sevens has been played at the Commonwealth Games since Kuala Lumpur in 1998, but Gold Coast marks the first time that the women’s game has been included in the program. The finals are Sunday.
GOLD FOR DALEY
Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow won gold for England in the men’s 10-meter platform synchro with 405.81 points. Another England pair, Matthew Dixon and Noah Williams, took silver with 399.99 points.
Earlier this week, Daley, a former world champion in the platform and bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympics, withdrew from the individual platform event because of a recurring hip injury.
In the final event of the night, the three-meter synchro springboard, England’s Jack Laugher won his third gold of the games, combining with Chris Mears for a dominating victory over divers from Canada and Australia.
A 15-year-old Indian shooter hit 30 of 40 targets to set a games record in winning gold in the men’s 25-meter rapid-fire pistol.
Continuing his country’s dominance at Belmont, the shooting venue located in outer Brisbane, Anish Bhanwala, the youngest member of his country’s games team, earned India its sixth shooting gold.
Rhythmic gymnast Diamanto Evripidou of Cyprus won two more gold medals to give her four for the games. The 18-year-old Evripidou had already won gold medals in the team event and individual all-around, and added the hoops and ball to her collection. She was prevented from winning a record six golds when Canada’s Sophie Crane won the clubs and Kwan Dict Weng of Malaysia took gold in the ribbons.