Commonwealth Games

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Leader collapses near finish of Commonwealth Games marathon

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GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — One of the most dramatic scenes at the Commonwealth Games came early on the final day.

Callum Hawkins of Scotland was leading the marathon Sunday morning when he became physically distressed and collapsed with about two kilometers remaining (video here). Michael Shelley ran past and defended his title.

Hawkins, who had about a two-minute lead over Shelley, first became disoriented in the humid conditions at about the 38-kilometer mark of the 42.2-kilometer race, briefly holding himself up next to a race barrier to try to regain his balance.

He was able to continue, despite having difficulty running in a straight line, but fell to the road two kilometers later and — after several minutes — received medical attention as Shelley raced past him on the course.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on. I had a couple of mates (in the crowd) who said Callum was in a bit of trouble. They told me to keep going and gave me encouragement,” Shelley said. “I just tried to hang on.”

Hawkins was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance for testing and Scotland team officials said “there are no major concerns for his welfare at this stage.”

The team passed along a message from Hawkins while the Closing Ceremony was underway, saying “Thanks for all your messages of support today and to the Gold Coast University Hospital staff. I am now feeling much better.”

Television commentators were critical and there was backlash on social media because of the delay getting medical assistance to Hawkins, particularly after a security official tried to move away spectators who were attempting to help the stricken Hawkins.

Shelley finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds.

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Australian women break 4x100m freestyle relay world record

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Australia lowered the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay world record for the third time in four years, taking gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Thursday.

Shayna JackBronte CampbellEmma McKeon and Cate Campbell clocked 3:30.05, bettering their 3:30.65 record from the Rio Olympics.

Cate Campbell, the former individual 100m free world-record holder, anchored in 51.00 seconds, believed to be the fastest split in history. The previous fastest was believed to be Campbell’s 51.59 from the medley relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Campbell had the individual 100m free world record of 52.06 before Swede Sarah Sjöström clocked 51.71 at the 2017 World Championships.

Though Campbell’s split is ineligible for world-record purposes because it was off a relay exchange, it’s still the first 100m free by a woman faster than Mark Spitz‘s fastest-ever individual 100m free (then-world record 51.22 at Munich Olympics; though Spitz was 50.90 on his relay split in Munich).

The Aussie women have a history of great freestyle sprinters but struggled at recent major competitions since winning the 2016 Olympic 4x100m free relay over the U.S. (and ultimately keeping Katie Ledecky from five golds in Rio).

Cate Campbell was fifth and sixth in the 50m and 100m frees in Rio after clocking the fastest 50m free in a textile suit at the Australian Olympic Trials and breaking the 100m free world record one month before the Games. Campbell later said that she swam in Rio with a hernia.

She then skipped the 2017 World Championships because she needed a break to continue on to a possible fourth Olympics in 2020, according to the Australian.

“I’m just making sure I get my body right and my mind right because I do want to continue through to 2018, and at the moment, 2020,’’ she said 13 months ago, according to the newspaper. “I’ve battled injuries pretty much my whole career, and my injuries aren’t just an issue in the swimming pool. I wake up a couple of times every night because I’m sore from my neck and it carries over into day to day life.”

At the 2017 Worlds, sister Bronte and McKeon were seventh and eighth in the 100m free. The last time Australia failed to put a woman in the top six at an Olympics or worlds was 2001.

Also at 2017 Worlds, the Australian women lost the 4x100m free relay by .29 to a U.S. quartet that broke its national record. The U.S., with Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, clocked 3:31.72 that day. On Thursday in Gold Coast, Australia went 1.67 seconds faster, benefitting from Campbell’s return.

There are no Olympics or worlds this summer, but the U.S. and Australia should both compete at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in August.

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Commonwealth Games set to start with 11-year-old among the athletes

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An 11-year-old table tennis player is one of some 5,000 athletes set to compete at the Commonwealth Games, which open this week in Gold Coast, Australia.

Anna Hursey of Wales could be the youngest competitor in the history of the games, a stat that has gone unconfirmed with records from the earliest editions in the 1930s reportedly incomplete.

The Commonwealth Games are the biggest summer multi-sport competition outside of the Olympics, held every four years. The Opening Ceremony is Wednesday. The Closing Ceremony is April 15.

The U.S. is not part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Instead, the notable delegations competing in Gold Coast are host Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa and those that make up Great Britain at the Olympics, led by England.

Most of the sports are also in the Olympics, but some are not, such as lawn bowls.

Usain Bolt competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Gold Coast edition is headlined by Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Caster Semenya in track and field, Chad le Clos and Adam Peaty in swimming and Max Whitlock in gymnastics.

Then there is Hursey, the 11-year-old table tennis prodigy from Cardiff with a website and YouTube channel.

Hursey, whose parents reportedly met in the table tennis hotbed of China, started playing when she was 4 or 5 and advanced after receiving coaching in China on a trip with her mother. Her father, Larry, used to play the sport.

The table was nearly the height of her shoulders when she started, evidenced by the YouTube channel, which has separate highlights of Hursey playing at ages 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

By 2015, the BBC started covering Hursey. A coach told the network that at age 9, she had probably beaten everyone in the under-18 division in Wales.

“Those people [are] not her target,” her mom, Xiuli Zhang, told the BBC in 2016. “Asian countries, those players should be her target. If she can beat them, she probably can be one of the best.”

Hursey made her senior international debut for Wales last year, winning four of six matches in a lower division at the European Championships. She is No. 568 in the senior world rankings and third in Wales. She’s No. 20 in the world under-15 age rankings.

The youngest recorded Olympian was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed at the first modern Games in Athens in 1896 at age 10.

Hursey will be 14 come Tokyo 2020, but it appears unlikely she will be there as a competitor. Not only are there two women in Wales ranked ahead of her, but also four women from England. Plus, Great Britain last fielded a female Olympic table tennis player in 1996, aside from when it hosted at London 2012.

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