Lorraine Ugen became the star of the English team at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Saturday (14) after anchoring them to 4x100m relay gold and an English record – with just 10 minutes of baton practice.
Primarily a long jumper, Ugen was called into the squad on Friday night because of an injury to Corinne Humphreys. She delivered in style to hold off Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson in a thrilling final leg.
“All I knew was to hold on to the lead and not disgrace myself,” said Ugen, who won a bronze medal at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade last March.
“I just went for it and I did it. I only did my first exchanges in the warm-up area today. We had 10 minutes. I didn’t feel nervous.”
England triumphed in 42.46, breaking their national record of 42.84, from Jamaica in 42.52 and Nigeria in 42.75.
Ugen took the baton from Bianca Williams and soared away in lane five, as Thompson came charging back for Jamaica on the side lane but Ugen had enough of a gap.
Asha Philip, the European indoor 60m gold medallist, set England on their way, handing over to European 200m champion and Commonwealth bronze medallist Dina Asher-Smith. Williams ran the third leg before handing the baton to Ugen.
“Our job was to give Lorraine the biggest lead we can,” said Asher-Smith.
Zharnel Hughes made up for his disappointment of losing the 200m gold by disqualification as he ended on the top of the podium for England in the 4x100m.
Hughes ran the second leg, taking the baton from Reuben Arthur and handing on to Richard Kilty, before Harry Aikines-Aryeetey completed the job, winning in 38.13 from South Africa in 38.24 and Jamaica in 38.35.
Kilty and Aikines-Aryeetey were in the British team which won relay gold at the European Championships in Zurich 2014 and they were ecstatic to be triumphant again.
“I have run the bend a few times, it is probably my favourite leg, and what a start these guys gave me,” said Kilty, the reigning two-time European indoor champion in the 60m.
Medals for Lake, Weightman and Wightman
It was a good final day for European athletes with Morgan Lake winning high jump silver and Laura Weightman taking 5000m bronze for England and Jake Wightman winning bronze in the 1500m for Scotland.
Lake, 20, equalled her season’s best of 1.93m as Levern Spencer picked up St. Lucia’s first ever title in Commonwealth Games history with a 1.95m clearance.
After knocking the bar over at her first attempt at 1.93m, Lake cleared it at the second time of asking. She then failed at 1.95m before moving to 1.97m - which would have improved her lifetime best by one centimetres - where she missed out on her two remaining attempts.
Weightman, 26, was running the 5000m for only the second time in her career and she faced a world-class field led by Kenya’s world champion and Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri.
Weightman ran a well-judged race for third in 15:25.84 as Obiri won in 15:13.11 from her fellow Kenyan Margaret Kipkemboi in 15:15.28.
Wightman, 23, is progressing through the ranks superbly too. The 2013 European U20 champion finished sixth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham last month but won his first senior medal with bronze in Gold Coast.
Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi burst away to triumph in 3:34.78 from countryman Timothy Cheruiyot in 3:35.17 but Wightman, who was fourth in the 800m final, made his move with 200 metres to go and was never challenged once he moved into third to finish in 3:35.97.
After winning a silver medal in Glasgow four years ago, Apostolos Parellis from Cyprus settled for bronze in the men's discus final on Friday (13) evening with 63.61m. Jamaica's Fedrick Dacres smashed the championship record with 68.20m to win the title ahead of his teammate Traves Smikle with 63.98m.