GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Yohan Blake had to settle for a second bronze and Elaine Thompson a single silver as Jamaica’s vaunted sprinters failed to fire in the relays on the final day of athletics at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
England won both 4x100m relays with Zharnel Hughes finally getting his hand on a gold medal in the men’s race after losing the 200 individual title through disqualification, his team crossing in 38.13 seconds.
Former world champion Blake was left with too much to do on the anchor leg and was unable to run down England’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey or Akani Simbine, who helped South Africa to silver to add to his 100m gold.
“It was against us, had to pull in some guys at the last minute. For me, it was catch up. Always playing catch up,” said Blake, who managed only third after stumbling in the individual 100m.
“I feel great. Bronze, I got two bronze, I didn’t have to get anything.”
Late replacements were no problem for the English women and long jumper Lorraine Ugen sensationally held off Olympic 100m and 200m champion Thompson on the home straight to win gold in 42.46 seconds.
“I was told that I had to run so I was like, ‘Okay, I can’t disgrace myself today,” said Ugen, who was drafted into the team at the last moment.
“Bianca (Williams) gave me the baton and it was, ‘Okay, go, go, go.’”
Defending the gold in the women’s 4x400m relay saved some face for the Jamaicans and unlikely titles in the women’s steeplechase, men’s discus, women’s shot put and women’s triple jump helped put them second in the track and field medals list.
Australia, boosted by four paralympic golds and a string of field titles, topped the table with 10 golds ahead of the Jamaicans (7), England (5), South Africa (5) and Kenya (4), pending Sunday’s marathons.
High jumper Levern Spencer, competing in her fifth Commonwealth Games, boosted St Lucia up the table with a maiden gold medal for the Caribbean island, while Troy Doris of Guyana won the men’s triple jump title.
There was also rare athletics success for India in the final session at the Carrara Stadium when 20-year-old former world junior champion Neeraj Chopra won the javelin.
Chopra was the third man to win gold for India in Commonwealth Games athletics after sprinter Jeev Milkha Singh in 1958 and discus thrower Vikas Gowda in 2014.
Middle distance running success for Kenya is much more commonplace and there were one-twos for the East African nation in the men’s 1,500m, where Elijah Manangoi won gold, and the women’s 5,000m, where Hellen Obiri took the title.
Isaac Makwala performed his trademark push-ups with his Botswana team mates after winning the 4x400m relay to add to the individual title he won in the one-lap sprint.
England’s Hughes would have been in the same position had his flailing arm not caught rival Jereem Richards as they crossed the line in the 200m final.
“We came out here to do our very best today,” said Hughes.
“I told them ‘look, once we re-focus, I’m ready to go’. I’m just as hungry as my team mates. That’s how we managed to win today.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly