England’s James Wilby clinched gold in the men’s 100 meter breaststroke as compatriot Adam Peaty surprisingly finished outside the medals at the Commonwealth Games.
Peaty had never before lost a senior race in his favored event and looked set for a three-peat as the champion at Glasgow 2014 and on the Gold Coast four years ago unsurprisingly led at the halfway point.
But he lost momentum in the closing stages and was reeled in by Wilby, who clocked 59.25 seconds at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, just over an hour’s drive from where Peaty grew up in Uttoxeter.
Zac Stubblety-Cook finished second in 59.52secs while fellow Australian Sam Williamson took bronze in 59.82s, 0.04s ahead of fourth-placed Peaty.
Peaty was making his comeback after suffering a broken foot in May, leading to him missing last month’s World Championship, and his time of 59.86s was just under two seconds slower than his personal best.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” he said. “With 25m to go I had nothing in the tank. Maybe that’s overexposure on the foot. Sometimes you just have a bad race, I can’t pinpoint where I went wrong.
“It was a slow ending, I can’t remember the last time I went that slow. It just didn’t go right. Of course I’m disappointed but that’s what makes you go faster next time.
“I chose to fight, I don’t really care about the stats or how long you’re undefeated. Every time I get on to this box, I’m willing to fight and race anyone in the world.
“I’ve kind of lost that spark, whether it’s with my foot, but I’ll be looking to find that over the next months and into the next two years.”
England still capped a memorable day on the sporting front with top spot on the podium as Wilby went one better than 2018.
It is certainly up there as a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
Wilby, who admitted he was considering his swimming future after a disappointing Olympic campaign, said: “It is certainly up there as a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
“It just adds up to my enjoyment and having that fun back in the sport is everything. We’ve all been faster times than that but I’m loving it and that’s got me to the top of the podium this time.
“Everything else doesn’t matter. I’m always going to have that medal, I’m always going to love looking at it and remembering the moments that brought it here.”
Chad le Clos equaled the record for the most Commonwealth Games medals, collecting his 18th gong with silver in the men’s 200metres butterfly.
While Le Clos was unable to claim a fourth successive gold in this event, the South African moved level with shooting pair Michael Gault and Phil Adams on 18 overall medals.
Le Clos was pipped to gold by New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt while England’s James Guy took bronze.
Alice Tai was another English gold medalist, prevailing in the women’s 100m backstroke S8 final, just a few months after having her right leg amputated below the knee.
“It’s a bit surreal,” she said after coming home in a time of 1min 13.64s, with Wales’ Lily Rice finishing third.
“I started and ended last season with surgery, pulled out of Tokyo, then had an amputation in January. I’ve been learning to walk this year and getting back in the pool was just a bit of fun as I missed swimming.”
Joshua Willmer took gold in the men’s 100m Breaststroke SB8 ahead of the Australian pair of Timothy Hodge and Blake Cochrane.
Emma McKeon lead home an Australian one-two-three in the women’s 50m freestyle.
McKeon came home at 23.99s ahead of compatriots Meg Harris and Shayna Jack.
South Africa’s Tatiana Schoenmaker took gold in the women’s 200m breaststroke in a time of 2:21.92.
Silver went to Australia’s Jenna Strauch with South Africa’s Kaylene Corbett claiming the bronze.
Australia finished on a high as Kaylee McKeown won women’s 100m backstroke gold before they broke the world record to win the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay in a time of 7:39.29.