The ever-so dominant Australians were at it again here on Monday, beginning their campaign in the swimming events of the Commonwealth Games with an impressive show accounting for three out of the five gold medals which were decided at the Dr. S. P. Mukherjee aquatics complex.
Canada and South Africa won the other two titles even as India, though unable to achieve a podium place finish, managed a creditable sixth in the men's 400m relay after ensuring its place in the final by qualifying seventh from among 11 teams in the fray. Predictably, the performances of all the other Indians seen in action was on expected lines as they failed to progress.
The day also was marked by a few upsets notable among them the failure of James Burmester (New Zealand), the winner of the men's 200m butterfly four years ago in Melbourne, who failed to even make it to the final. The Kiwi could only finish a poor fifth in his heats and was eliminated from the final round after being ranked 10th overall.
With the double Olympic champion, Rebecca Adlington (England) making her first appearance in the women's 200m freestyle in a major competition, the final of the event was always keenly watched.
And though the English swimmer, the gold medallist in 400m and 800m freestyle in Beijing in 2008, did distinguish herself in her new event with a bronze medal finish, the race for the top honours was always between Aussie Kylie Palmer and Welsh Carlin Jazmin almost right through.
It was Canadian Genevieve Samur who led the pack through the initial two laps before Palmer, her compatriot Evans Blair and Jazmin moved ahead to fight it out for a medal. Samur did make a valiant effort towards the end of the third lap to come back but in vain as Palmer kept up her pace to grab the gold, touching the pad at 1:57.50. In the final rush, Jazmin kept her second place while Adlington coming up from behind overtook Samur, teammate Joanne Jackson and Blair took the third spot.
Alicia Coutts ensured a second gold medal for Australia taking the 200m individual medley overtaking compatriot and this year's leading performer of the world, Emily Seebohm, through the last two laps of the four-lapper.
Seebohm was in the lead through the butterfly and backstroke legs but slackened in pace in the breaststroke and freestyle legs as Coutts mounted pressure. Coutts was timed at a new Games record of 2:09.70, taking out Stephanie Rice's 2006 mark of 2:12.90. Seebohm finished at 2:10.83 with Canadian Julia Wilkinson in a distant third place at 2:12.09.
There was also no stopping the world's leading performer in the men's 400m freestyle, Ryan Cochrane (Canada) though he was pushed by Aussie Ryan Napoleon, who after being initially banned for a doping abuse was reinstated into the Australian squad after winning an appeal.
David Carry (Scotland) came behind them pushing reigning champion David Davies (Wales) to the fourth spot.
Chad Guy Le Clos (South Africa) sprang a minor surprise racing away with the gold medal, with a new record to boot, at the expense of England's Michael Rock and Canadian Stefan Hirniak.
Australia won the 400m freestyle relay, as anchor James Magnussen warded off a late rally from Adam Brown of England in style. South Africa, winner of the event in Melbourne, was forced to reconcile with the bronze.
Agnel D'Souza, Arjun Jayaprakash, Anshul Kothari and Virdhawal Khade formed the Indian quartet which finished sixth but almost 14 seconds behind the winning time of 3:13.92 posted by Australia.
Creditable though the performance, it was just further proof of the distance required by Indian swimming to cover to catch up with the rest.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games