Sport Blow for medal-winning Australian athletes on eve of Commonwealth Games

Blow for medal-winning Australian athletes on eve of Commonwealth Games

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Australia’s Commonwealth Games team has been hit by a significant blow after world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber tested positive to COVID-19.

The dual champion, who won the javelin gold medal at the World Championships last year, is so far asymptomatic but tested positive to a routine test.

While it is hoped she will recover in time to compete in her event, her fellow athletes will be watching for symptoms.

The threat of COVID prompted some Australians to avoid the opening ceremony ahead of competition starting the following day.

The Commonwealth Games Authority has said each individual nation will be responsible for policing its own athletes around COVID infections. It has not barred COVID-positive athletes from competing if they are asymptomatic.

Australia’s team has been split into five locations in Birmingham, in part to mitigate the COVID risk. Organisers had planned a single athletes village but construction was delayed because of COVID-related supply issues.

“Kelsey-Lee Barber is not out [of the Games],” Australia’s high-performance manager Andrew Faichney said.

“We are just working through with CGA what the requirements are for her being able to compete and there are some protocols as far as the Australian organising committee are concerned, but my understanding is she is not ruled out from competing at all.

“She has also got it early enough that she might be able to compete anyway.”

The women’s javelin final is on Sunday 7 August, the last day of athletics competition.

At last year’s Tokyo Olympics, athletes who tested positive were not allowed to compete in track and field.

In Birmingham, the Australians have been banned from supporting their teammates at other events due to the threat of COVID, and have been ordered to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising.

More athletics woes

In another blow for Australia’s medal hopes, Olympic bronze medal-winning decathlete Ash Moloney, who was forced to withdraw from the World Championships last week mid-competition due to a knee injury, has returned to Australia and will not compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Moloney had hoped to back up from the World Championships and compete at the Commonwealth Games where he was likely to be a serious gold medal chance after Canada’s Olympic champion Damian Warner was ruled out with injury.

He has returned to Australia and will consider whether he needs surgery for the persistent knee problem.

Three other members of the athletics team – hurdler Liz Clay and runners Joe Deng and Riley Day – had already pulled out of the Commonwealth Games through injury.

Despite the absences, Faichney said Australia could still top the medal table in athletics in Birmingham.

“I think we are coming off a World Championships where we were really successful so we are really well placed to be right up hopefully on top of the table as far as athletics are concerned,” he said.

“We have a variety of athletes who have done well over the last couple of years and have done well coming to these games on the back of the championships and we are going to be well placed.”