Australia lost on the buzzer in the netball final and then in extra-time of the Rugby Sevens on a day of mixed emotions as the 2018 Commonwealth Games came to an end.
The host nation added another five gold medals to its tally on a scorching Sunday on the Gold Coast, finishing with 80 – 35 more than second-placed England – with Kurt Fearnley’s triumph in the men’s T54 marathon the highlight.
Another two golds in marathon events followed, with Michael Shelley benefitting from the horrific collapse of a Scottish competitor to win the men’s edition, while Madison de Rozario claimed the women’s T54 marathon.
Australia’s men’s basketball side and men’s doubles squash team also claimed the ultimate prize.
It was not all beer and skittles, though, with England shocking the Diamonds 52-51 in a tense netball final that reduced several Australian players to tears.
England, which trailed on several occasions during the last quarter, never gave up and led by one point with 20 seconds remaining.
A goal from captain Caitlin Bassett drew the Diamonds level but a foul at the other end then allowed Helen Housby to sink Australia with the last possession of the game.
“Pretty gutted. It does not feel real,” Bassett said afterwards.
The Aussie heartbreak continued at Robina as New Zealand won 17-12 in extra-time to claim gold in the women’s Rugby Sevens.
The Kiwis led 12-0 with less than three minutes remaining before tries to Emilee Cherry and Ellia Green drew Australia level and sent a huge crowd into a frenzy.
But the Olympic champion Australians missed a conversion attempt to settle the game then and there and Kelly Brazier made them pay, scoring a sensational solo try from inside her own half to end a thrill-a-minute contest.
“We’re shattered,” Australia coach Tim Walsh said afterwards, making no attempt to disguise the pain of defeat.
The most uncomfortable moment of the Games came when Scotland’s Callum Hawkins, leading the men’s marathon on Sunday morning, collapsed with around two kilometres to run.
Hawkins had built a big lead over second-placed Shelley but, closing in on the finish line, began to stagger and sway across the course.
It was clear that he was not well and he even crashed into a barrier before helping himself up and running off.
He did not get much further as Hawkins eventually succumbed to the heat and received medical help before being taken to hospital.
Team Scotland advised on Sunday that there were “no major concerns” for Hawkins’ wellbeing and that he was communicating with members of his family.
Gold Coast Games CEO Mark Peters said he was “distressed” watching Hawkins compete and queried the behaviour of some spectators lining the course.
“I was also concerned about the behaviour of a small number of bystanders who chose to take images. This is not in keeping with the spirit of GC2018,” he said.
Hawkins’ withdrawal allowed Shelley to take the lead before eventually going on for victory, backing up his win from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In one of the most popular golds at the Games, Fearnley, who carried Australia’s flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony, beat home English pair John Smith and Simon Lawson to win the men’s T54 marathon – a result he described as “bloody awesome”.
The Boomers comfortably accounted for Canada 87-47 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in their gold medal match.
Every Australia player scored in a victory most notable for the outstanding team defence that kept Canada frustrated and ensured it was never really in the contest.
The win came despite the fact most of Australia’s best players were sidelined due to playing commitments in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Zac Alexander and David Palmer also went out on a high, the pair clinching the men’s doubles squash title against England 2-1.
Medal tally top 10
Gold: 80 Silver: 59 Bronze: 59 Total Medals: 198
Gold: 45 Silver: 45 Bronze: 46 Total Medals: 136
Gold: 26 Silver: 20 Bronze: 20 Total Medals: 66
Gold: 15 Silver: 40 Bronze: 27 Total Medals: 82
5. New Zealand
Gold: 15 Silver: 16 Bronze: 15 Total Medals: 46
6. South Africa
Gold: 13 Silver: 11 Bronze: 13 Total Medals: 37
Gold: 10 Silver: 12 Bronze: 14 Total Medals: 36
Gold: 9 Silver: 13 Bronze: 22 Total Medals: 44
Gold: 9 Silver: 9 Bronze: 6 Total Medals: 24
Gold: 8 Silver: 1 Bronze: 5 Total Medals: 14