Australia’s Barber wins Commonwealth Games javelin gold

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Australia’s two-time world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber played the waiting game to perfection again at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.

After adding the 2022 World Championship title in Oregon in July to her success in Doha in 2019, Barber traveled to favored England to claim her first Commonwealth gold medal.

But on the eve of the opening ceremony on July 28, she tested positive for COVID-19, putting her in solitary confinement and casting doubt on her participation.

It was not until Thursday that the 30-year-old was cleared to take part in the event, but she said days spent in solitary confinement recovering from illness had not detracted from her conviction.

“Mentally, I coped. I wasn’t going to let that affect my performance today,” Barber said.

Seeking to complete the Games medal haul after winning a bronze in Glasgow in 2014 and a silver on the Gold Coast four years ago, Barber saved his best throw for last.

She followed teammate Mackenzie Little, who threw a personal best 64.27 meters, on the final lap. But Barber responded with an effort of 64.43 meters to clinch the gold medal.

It continues a theme for the Australian, whose first world title in Doha was won with her last throw, as was the bronze medal she won at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

“I had great confidence from the world (championships) and a good feeling for my javelin. I trusted that process, so today I was focused and knew what I wanted to accomplish here,” she said.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s good to know that I have the confidence that I can keep lifting during a competition and that I can find something in that last round.

Barber won one of 45 gold medals on offer on the penultimate day of the 2022 Games, 16 of which came in boxing.

England won their first able-bodied men’s gold on the track when the men’s 4×100 meters relay team sprinted to victory against Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria.

Zharnel Hughes fell back from second place in the 200m final on Saturday night to put in a solid second leg to take the lead for England, who clocked 38.35 seconds.

“I think we did a good job with the trades. It went well,” he said. “Coming away with two medals, I couldn’t be happier. Doing it at home is spectacular.

Nigeria won gold in the women’s 4×100 meters relay against England, with Jamaican champion Elaine Thompson-Herah finishing strong as the anchor to clinch bronze for her country.

Australia also claimed success in cycling when Georgia Baker won the women’s road race, giving her three gold medals for the Games after victories at the London Velodrome last week.

England runner Anna Henderson tried to break the grip the Australian team seemed to have on the race by launching several attacks during the 112 kilometer (69.5 mile) race.

But it didn’t help. Women’s time trial gold medalist Grace Brown countered those attacks, sacrificing her own hopes to give Baker every chance of success.

Henderson criticized Australia’s post-race tactics, describing them as “garbage”. The England runner said the Australians, aware of their collective strength, had a boring race.

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