Canada has big day at Commonwealth Games
Wrestlers, track and field athletes headline 13 podium finishes
Canada came away with its second-largest single-day medal haul of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday, with wrestlers and track and field athletes leading the country to 13 podium finishes to raise the Canadian total to 60.
It was Canada's most decorated day of competition in Australia since it won 14 medals on Day 4.
Leading the charge on Day 8 were wrestlers Erica Wiebe and Diana Weicker, who won gold in their respective weight divisions, Christabel Nettey, who won the women's long jump, and Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, who won gold in the inaugural Commonwealth Games women's beach volleyball tournament.
Canada's wrestlers finished the day with four medals while track and field athletes brought in three.
Canada's total of 60 medals trails only host Australia (156) and England (87). The Canadian team now has 12 gold medals, moving up from sixth place in that department to fourth, behind Australia (63) , England (28) and India (14).
Canada has set a goal of winning 100 medals before competition ends Sunday.
Here's the breakdown of Canada's Day 8 medals:
- Wrestling: Erica Wiebe — women's 76kg
- Wrestling: Diana Weicker — women's 53kg
- Track and field: Christabel Nettey — women's long jump
- Beach volleyball: Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan — women's
- Beach volleyball: Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter — men's
- Rhythmic gymnastics: Katherine Uchida — all-around
- Wrestling: Steven Takahashi — men's 57kg
- Diving: Philippe Gagné — men's 3m springboard
- Diving: Meaghan Benfeito — women's 10m platform
- Track and field: Shawn Barber — men's pole vault
- Track and field: Aaron Brown — men's 200m
- Cycling: Haley Smith — women's mountain bike
- Wrestling: Jevon Balfour — men's 74kg
Wiebe leads wrestling haul
Wiebe defended her 76-kilogram Commonwealth Games crown defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi to win gold.
The 28-year-old from Stittsville, Ont., who also won Olympic gold in Rio, beat opponents from Sierra Leone and England en route to pinning the Nigerian in the freestyle gold-medal match.
"I didn't do my best out there, but I love when I'm down," said Wiebe, who trains out of Calgary. "I love when there is pressure. I always come to play.
"It was great to pin her and put away the match ... I feel great to be a double Commonwealth medallist."
In all, Canada won two gold, a silver and a bronze on the first day of the wrestling competition.
Weicker, from St. Catharines, Ont., also won gold in the 53-kilogram Nordic class at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre.
"It's my second Commonwealth Games, but only my first time being in the running for medal. I loved it," she said.
Steven Takahashi of London, Ont., took a silver in the 57-kilogram class, losing 15-7 to India's Rahul Aware.
Takahashi's father Ray competed in wrestling at both the 1978 games in Edmonton and 1982 games in Brisbane, Australia. He won gold in 1978 and silver in 1982.
I wanted to come here and get a medal, hopefully to beat my dad ... I really wanted that gold. It's a bittersweet feeling," said Takahashi, who is coached by his father.
And Toronto's Jevon Balfour, a silver medallist four years ago in Glasgow, picked up a bronze with a 14-4 win over Australian Connor Evans in the 74-kilogram class.
Nettey tops Canada's track medallists
Nettey won gold in the women's long jump with a leap of 6.84 metres on her first attempt to finish ahead of Australia's Brooke Stratton (6.77) and England's Shara Proctor (6.75).
"I was hoping to build on that [first jump] with a good series, as the only way to win was to keep having good jumps," said the 26-year-old from Surrey, B.C., whose personal best is 6.99 metres. "The other girls are great jumpers."
Nettey won bronze four years ago in Glasgow with a jump of 6.49 metres.
In the men's 200 metres, Canadian Aaron Brown was upgraded to silver after England's Zharnel Hughes was given provisional first place in a photo finish with Jareem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago when they crossed in 20.12, was disqualified for making contact with Richard.
Richardson, who was inside Hughes and closing in on him quickly down the straight, appeared to be impeded, but didn't know he'd been awarded the win until the pair had completed a lap of honour. A later protest by Hughes was rejected by officials.
Brown clocked 20.34 seconds.
In the men's pole vault, Australia's Kurtis Marschall cleared 5.70 metres on his third and final attempt to edge Canada's Shawn Barber, whose best jump was 5.65. Barber won bronze four years ago.
Canada makes history in beach volleyball
Pavan and Humana-Paredes made history by dispatching an Australian pair to become the first women to win beach volleyball gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, the Canadians had to battle wind and rain as well as resilient opponents in Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar to triumph 21-19, 22-20.
The Canadians fought off a set point at 20-19 in the final set and put the Aussies away with a gut-busting final point that saw 17 touches of the ball and some miraculous saves on either side of the net. When it was done, the five-foot-nine Humana-Paredes jumped into the arms of the six-foot-five Pavan to celebrate putting their names in the games record book.
"It feels amazing," said Pavan, a 31-year-old from Kitchener, Ont. "To be the first gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games for beach volleyball is such an honour. And we've made history. Hopefully this will continue to be an event in the Commonwealth Games but there's nothing like the first."
Canadians Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow had to settle for silver, losing the men's final 21-19, 18-21, 18-16 to Australians Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann in an entertaining nail-biter that lasted 61 minutes.
Both Canadian teams had to deal with a polite but loud, partisan crowd at the Coolangatta Beachfront venue in Gold Coast's southernmost suburb.
The beach volleyball competition has been a huge hit here, with every session a sellout. The venue was rocking Thursday with 4,000 spectators filling the temporary stands.
As surf pounded the beach outside, an energetic MC urged fans to high-five each other after big plays on the sand. Fans stamped their feet, posed for a "muscle-cam" on the big screen, did the wave on cue and sang along to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.
Benfeito dives to 2nd medal
Canadian diver Meaghan Benfeito won her second silver medal in as many days, finishing runner-up to Australia's Melissa Wu in the 10-metre platform.
The 29-year-old from Montreal won silver Wednesday with teenage partner Caeli McKay of Calgary in the 10-metre synchronized platform at the outdoor Optus Aquatic Centre. McKay was sixth Thursday.
Benfeito won the individual 10-metre event in the Glasgow games four years ago. She also won the 10-metre synchro event in 2014 with the now-retired Roseline Filion and a bronze in the 10-metre synchro in 2006.
Also Thursday, Montreal's Philippe Gagne won silver in the men's three-metre springboard behind England's Jack Laugher.
With files from The Canadian Press