Lift Off For Samoa as Northern Ireland are a Hit in the Ring

Day 4 Competition Overview

There was joy on the penultimate day of competition at the Commonwealth Youth Games for the host nation. Maeu Livi triumphed in the Men’ s 85kg weightlifting competition with a combined lift of 253kg. Earlier in the day, Feagaiga Stowers had won silver for Samoa in the +69kg category. These medals took their national tally to double figures with one Gold, four Silvers and 5 Bronze.

There was plenty of choice for spectators with podium places being settled in no fewer than seven sports.

A warm but breezy morning welcomed competitors for the Women’s archery Recurve Final. India, Bangladesh, England and Malyasia made up the Semi Finalists, with Prachi Singh of India advancing in the first semi against Nondiny Shopna of Bangladesh.

The second semi-final was much closer. With English archer Elizabeth Warner defeating Nuramalia Mazlan of Malaysia 7 set points to 3.

The Bronze Medal went to Bangladesh 6 set points to 2, which left the Gold to be settled between India and England.

In the Final, the first two sets left England and India level before Prachi Singh began to pull away in the last two sets with scores of 26-23 and 27-25 to take the title. Prachi already has one eye on the future;

“ Archery is very competitive in India, and I’m thinking of winning the next World Championships. I have won 3 Gold Medals in India in the National Championships but it’s my first appearance in an international event.”

In the Men’s Recurve Bow Final, Mohammad Islam of Bangladesh took the top podium with Nishant Kumawat of India and Chayse Martin of New Zealand claiming Silver and Bronze respectively.

New Zealand also won a medal in the Men’s 94kg weightlifting. This time the colour was Gold through Vernon Taylor. Jordan Sakkas of Wales and Isuru Senadeera of Sri Lanka finished narrowly behind – only 3kg separated the top three.

It was a day of success for the top seeds and Malaysia in the day’s Squash Finals. Eain Yow Ng beat England’s Patrick Rooney 11-8,12-10,11-5 to be crowned Commonwealth Youth Champion. Compatriot, Sivasangari Subramaniam fought off the challenge of New Zealander Eleanor Epke 11-3.11-5,12-10. The Individual Male Champion then combined with Andrea Jia Qi Lee to defeat Velavan Senthilkumar and Harshit Kaur Jawanda of India to win the Mixed Gold, 11-7 11-3.

Malaysia had to settle for third place in the Mixed pairs at the Lawn Bowls behind the Cook Islands (whose Silver was their first medal at these Games) and winners Australia.

On court, the Tennis Mixed Doubles Final was won by India 2 sets to Love. 7-6 6-3 over Scotland with PNG picking up Bronze.

There was a good atmosphere in the Boxing venue at Tuana’imato for Finals night. First in the ring were the two finalists for the 46-49kg, Light Flyweight division. Stephen Mckenna of Northern Ireland, the first of five Northern Irish finalists, and Australia’s Tyler Blizzard. After a steady opening round, the pace picked up with the pair regularly trading blows close up. In the end it went to the judges where a split decision went the young Northern Irish boxer’s way. As he left the ring, the new Commonwealth Youth Champion reflected on his victory;

“ I’ve had some tough fights against England and India. It’s tough going but I got there. I got great instructions from my coaches throughout the fight and I followed them and it worked. It was great corner work.”

Next up in the Flyweight 52kg division was Gaurav Solanki from India and Asian Youth Champion, who was up against Jack Bowen of Australia.

Bowen was under pressure in the middle of first round but recovered composure, trying to box and move to contain the busy Indian. It clearly paid off as another split decision saw the Australian take the Gold. The winner was overcome with emotion at the enormity of his victory;

It’s the best feeling ever. He was a tough opponent, he got me in the ribs a lot and for a while I was just defending because he was constant pressure. After that first round I just went back to boxing and I reckon I got the second and third rounds. “

Northern Ireland’s James McGivern gained a unanimous decision over William Stuart of Scotland in the Bantamweight 56kg. This was a quieter bout, although just as challenging, as the winner acknowledged;.

“ Tough fight, tough boxer. A great tactical boxer but I got myself past it. We started training a long, long time ago for this. I worked through every month and every session really hard and that’s what all came together.”

A large Papua New Guinea contingent from the Athletes’ Village swelled the crowd and increased the noise levels in support of Thadius Katua. He was up against Tiernan Bradley, another Northern Ireland boxer who had his own vocal group of fans. All of which added to the atmosphere for this Lightweight contest.

Katua who looked to be moving smoothly, put his opponent down in the first round with a right hook, his fast hands being a notable attribute. Nevertheless, Tiernan Bradley responded well to take the result to the judges. A split decision gave it to the Pacific islander.

A previous Commonwealth Games was on the mind of Northern Ireland’s Aidan Walsh as he climbed into the ring;

“This time last year my sister was beaten in the final of the Commonwealth Games. She said to me the day before we came here, ‘don’t let them take it away from you, don’t stop, give it your all.“

The message was clearly heeded as after a scrappy start to the fight, he took a unanimous decision over Matthew Rennie of the Isle of Man in this Light welterweight bout.

The next Northern Ireland boxer had to settle for Silver as Mohammed Akbar of England defeated Brett McGinty in the 69kg fight. Mohammed, from Bradford commented,

“ The plan was to keep it long and keeping him off and not letting him come in, and it worked a treat. “

In the last two bouts of these Games, John Docherty of Scotland defeated Benjamin Whittaker of England. This, on a split decision to win the Middleweight title. A first round Technical Knock Out of Antonio Kanongata’a of Tonga saw Scotland pick up their second Boxing Gold of the evening.

Another bumper night of action in the pool rounded off the Swimming Competition for these Games.

After a significant medal haul in the pool, Australia didn’t have it all their own way on the final evening. England and South Africa got in amongst the Golds, with three and two respectively. Nevertheless, the team in green and gold still managed to win four Gold Medals in the session.

There were notable victories for England’s Georgia Darwent, Edward Baxter and Layla Black in the Women’s 800m Freestyle, and both 200m Breaststroke competitions. In addition, Zane Waddell of South Africa, continued his golden streak by touching first in the Men’s 50m Freestyle in a time of 22.85 seconds. The South African team won the 4x100m Men’s Medley.

Australian, Clyde Lewis clocked 2 minutes 2.4 seconds in the 200m Individual Medley. At the last count this took the World Youth Champion’s medal haul to 5 Golds, 2 Silvers and 1 Bronze Medal.

Another Australian, Shayna Jack took the 50m Freestyle title for the Women. The race was unusual in that two swimmers, Gabrielle Fa’amausili of New Zealand and Erin Paige Gallagher of South Africa tied in a dead heat for second place with the same time of 25.82. Thus, providing a Silver lining to the end of their week’s competition.

By The Reporters’ Academy