Athletics Australia have suspended its head coach Eric Hollingsworth after he launched an attack on Olympic champion Sally Pearson, on the eve of her Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles title defence.
Hollingsworth dramatically escalated his falling out with Australia’s best track and field athlete on Wednesday, saying she set a “bad example” as team captain by not attending a pre-Games training camp in Gateshead, UK.
He also defended his right to criticise Pearson’s inability to defend the world indoors 60m hurdles title in March, after which their relationship broke down completely.
Athletics Australia president David Grace said the sport’s national ruling body was bitterly disappointed that Hollingsworth had chosen to criticise Pearson midway through the Commonwealth Games.
“He acted without the authority of Athletics Australia and in contravention of the specific instructions of the chief executive officer,” Grace said.
“Athletics Australia condemns in the strongest terms his disparaging comments about Sally Pearson and his timing.
“We have therefore suspended Eric Hollingsworth as an employee of Athletics Australia until such time as the Athletics Australia board board can convene to consider the matter.
Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth a late inclusion in the 10 metre platform at Comm games. Unfortunately pool empty.
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) July 30, 2014
Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist Tamsyn Lewis-Manou launched a savage attack on Hollingsworth following his suspension.
“Me and half the athletics teams have an issue with him,” Lewis-Manou told news.com.au.
“He’s an arrogant, egotistical man. A horrible man.
“It’s basically his way or the highway. He lacks the ability to communicate with adults, which the athletics team predominantly is.
“He doesn’t respect the fact that the individual coaches are the ones who got the athletes prepared and peaked and know their athletes better than him. He doesn’t know the athletes very well.”
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association is expected to also strip Hollingsworth of any official role with the team at the Glasgow Games.
Hollingsworth’s contract with Athletics Australia officially runs out in October.
But his six-year term as head coach is now effectively over.
Pearson was furious that she was fined by Athletics Australia for not attending the pre-Games training camp after deciding she would be better served by competing at an extra meet in London, having had her preparation interrupted by a hamstring injury.
“What’s lost here is she’s the team captain and there’s a reasonable expectation she’d be in the camp ahead of something as major as the Commonwealth Games,” Hollingsworth said in a statement issued through a PR company.
“Her no-show sets a bad example to the entire national team.”
Mickle tops Australian javelin charge
Kim Mickle won gold in the women’s javelin, with team-mate Kelsey-Lee Roberts picking up bronze.
On a tumultuous day for the Australian athletics team, Mickle threw a Games record of 65.19 metres with her second attempt and held that lead until the end.
Compatriot Kathryn Mitchell‘s 62.59 had her third in the standings, with Roberts fourth heading into her sixth and final throw.
The 22-year-old stepped up and threw 62.95 to climb into the silver-medal position and push Mitchell off the podium with only South Africa’s two-time defending champion Sunette Viljoen left to throw.
Viljoen bettered Roberts’s mark by 24 centimetres to take silver.
Australian duo Madeline Heiner and Genevieve LaCaze finished fourth and fifth respectively in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, with both women posting personal bests. That, however, wasn’t enough to disrupt the Kenyan dominance of the podium, with Purity Cherotich Kirui winning ahead of compatriots Milcah Chemos Cheywa and Joan Kipkemoi.
Australian Sophie Stanwell was fourth in the women’s heptathlon, behind winner Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada and her countrywoman Jessica Zelinka. England’s Jessica Tappin was third.
Shot put glory for NZ
New Zealand’s Olympic champion Valerie Adams’ effort of 19.88 gave her gold, ahead of Cleopatra Borel of Trinidad and Tobago and Canada’s Julie Laponte.
Might as well jump
Brandon Starc, younger brother of Test paceman Mitchell, finished eighth in the men’s high jump with a leap of 2:21m, 10cm off the winning effort of Canada’s Derek Drouin. Cypriot Kyriakos Ioannou (2.28m) won silver with Canada’s Michael Mason (2.25) taking the bronze.
Fabrice Lapierre was unlucky to miss out on a medal in the men’s long jump, his effort of 8m securing fourth spot. England’s Greg Rutherford won gold with 8.20m, ahead of South Africans Zarck Visser (8.12m) and Rushwahl Samaai (8.08m). Aussie Robbie Crowther was sixth.
Riding the bumps
Australian Jeff Risely was on the receiving end of a good old fashioned hip and shoulder from Canada’s Brandon McBride in the semi-final of the men’s 800m, forcing him out of the qualifying positions. Justice was done, however, when McBride was disqualified and Risely will take part in Thursday’s final.
Grenada’s Kirani James set a new Commonwealth Games record in winning the men’s 400m, with his time of 44.24 seconds too good for South African Wayde van Niekerk and Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago.
Silver for Mitcham
Australians Matthew Mitcham and Grant Nel won silver and bronze respectively in the men’s 1m springboard diving on day seven of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
It was Mitcham’s fifth Games silver medal after he finished second in the 1m springboard, 3m synchronised springboard, 10m platform and 10m synchronised four years ago in Delhi.
As has become his trademark, Mitcham pulled out his best dive when it was needed in the final after failing to break a score of 70 through his first five dives.
On his last attempt, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist posted a 76.50 with a reverse one-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists to sit in the gold-medal position with 404.85 with only England’s Jack Laugher still to dive.
Laugher produced a forward two-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists, scoring 76.80 to win the gold medal comfortably with a total score of 449.90.
South Africa-born Nel came agonisingly close to winning silver, finished in third with a score of 403.40 – 1.45 points behind Mitcham.
Aussies Anabelle Smith and Maddison Keeney won bronze in the women’s 3m synchronised platform, with compatriots Anna Gelai and Esther Qin in fourth spot. England pair Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree won gold with the final dive of the event, with Canadians Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware taking the silver.
Australian pair Melissa Wu and Rachel Bugg finished fifth in the women’s synchronised 10m platform, behind gold medal pairing Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion of Canada. England took the silver and Malaysia claimed bronze.
Aussie Naoya Tsukahara claimed fifth spot in the men’s all-round final. Englishman Max Whitlock won the event, from Scotsman Daniel Keatings and England’s Nile Wilson.
England posted an impressive trifecta in the women’s AA final, with Claudia Fragapane winning from Ruby Harrold and Hannah Whelan. Australian Olivia Vivian was fifth.
Australian Deborah Acason just missed out on the medals in the women’s 75kg+. Acason’s lift of 236kg was only just behind New Zealand’s Tracey Lambrechs’ 237kg, which won bronze. Both women were a long way off gold medallist Maryam Usman from Nigeria (280kg) and Samoan Ele Opeloge (271kg).
Robert Galsworthy and Max Dalsanto finished fifth and sixth respectively for Australia in the men’s 105kg. Kiribati’s David Katoatau won gold, beating New Zealand’s Stanislav Chalaev and Englishman Ben Watson.
With AAP and ABC