English sprinter Zharnel Hughes was sensationally disqualified on his victory lap after a controversial finish to the men’s 200m final at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday evening.
Hughes was initially declared the winner of the race, despite clocking the same time (20.12 seconds) as Jereem Richards at Carrara Stadium.
But as Hughes celebrated around the track with the England flag draped over his shoulders, officials were furiously studying replays after he appeared to hit Richards in the arm in the race’s desperate final stages, ultimately judging in favour of the Trinidad and Tobago runner.
Unsure of the result, Richards fronted the media, but this time it was the athlete with the question.
“Did I win?” the 24-year-old asked.
Official confirmation had just come through so, in the most bizarre of circumstances, it was left to a dozen reporters to confirm his gold medal.
Richards beamed after hearing the news, shaking hands with members of the press pack. He had to celebrate with somebody.
— 7CommGames (@7CommGames) April 12, 2018
The most controversial moment of these Games arrived when Hughes, who burst into the lead but came perilously close to running out of his lane, threw an arm in the direction of Richards with about 20m to go.
Richards was charging home and had all the momentum but was hit and lost his rhythm, stunning the crowd.
The pair traded stares as they crossed the line and when asked about the moment by The New Daily, Richards said: “I definitely knew him hitting me affected me.”
Even though he had been told he won, Richards wanted to see it for himself.
He added: “I’ll wait and see what happens but it [hit] definitely did something to me … [but if I win] it means a lot.
“I think this is going to be a history-making moment.”
Richards was right. History was unfolding. He added that if it was not for the hit he “definitely” would have got past Hughes.
“In a race, you’re not expecting to get hit,” he said.
After doing the media rounds, Richards was walking off when he saw a television screen showing the official result of his race and it sparked an unforgettable reaction as he jumped around in scenes of pure and unbridled joy.
It was a moment you could not possibly interrupt but once he calmed down, he wanted to pose for a photo with this message that was written on the back of his number.
As for Hughes, he stormed past reporters. He was in no mood to talk.
Six golds for Australia
Locals Kurtis Marschall and Dani Stevens gave the home fans something to shout about on Thursday evening as they won gold in the men’s pole vault and women’s discus throw respectively.
The 20-year-old Marschall is tipped to be one of the next big things in Australian athletics and he cleared 5.70m to beat Canadian rival and former world champion Shawn Barber.
“My feelings at the moment are just pure excitement, relief … everyone in my family flew up to see this,” he told The New Daily.
“Very grateful for everyone that came out and supported. It was very hard to deal with all that pressure but I went out there and executed my processes.
“It was a super exciting moment and I wouldn’t have liked to come second. I’m very glad that I came first. Best experience in the world.”
Stevens was a big favourite to win her event and she threw for 68.26 metres – almost eight metres more than silver medallist Seema Punia of India.
Melissa Wu was triumphant in the women’s 10m platform, while Australia also won gold in the women’s triples and the open B6/B7/B8 triples in the lawn bowls.
Beach volleyball joy and heartbreak
Australia’s men and women’s beach volleyball teams took on Canada in gold medal matches at Coolangatta.
The men got things started in style with a 21-19 18-21 18-16 win in three tight sets.
Victory was made even sweeter for the fact Canada led 12-9 in the third and deciding set. Unfortunately for our women’s side, they were beaten in straight sets.
The news was better for the Hockeyroos, who beat India 1-0 in a tense encounter to book a spot in the gold medal match.