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By Steve Keating
BIRMINGHAM, England, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Australia’s Oliver Hoare used a devastating late kick to claim a surprise win in the Commonwealth Games men’s 1,500 metres on Saturday, as Scotland’s newly minted world champion Jake Wightman was denied a golden double.
After Wightman’s stunning victory at the worlds a little over two weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, a capacity crowd packed into a sun-kissed Alexander Stadium with hopes of watching the Scotsman do it again.
But the roars were not enough to lift Wightman to the top of the podium as Hoare timed his move to perfection down the home stretch, coming from fourth to pip Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot at the line for gold.
“It was just about kicking at the right time,” said Hoare. “I went through on the inside with a lap to go, and I saw Jake next to me and I started to panic because he is the world champion.
“But I tried to hold my composure.”
Hoare, who did not make it out of the semi-finals at the worlds, finished in a Games record time of three minutes, 30.12 seconds with Cheruiyot just 0.09 seconds back to take silver and Wightman settling for bronze.
Just as they did in Eugene, Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang set a blistering early pace, with Wightman tucking in behind the two Kenyans with a lap to go poised to strike.
The Scotsman would make his move on the back stretch surging into the lead triggering a mighty roar from the crowd.
But entering the home stretch it was Cheruiyot first and then Hoare powering past, and Wightman who had no response.
Silver medallist four years ago in Australia, Cheruiyot looked to have gold when he stumbled a few metres from the line providing enough of an opening for Hoare to out-lunge him for the win.
“I really wanted to win it,” said Wightman. “I’m not quite as mentally and physically fresh as I thought I probably would have been coming into this off the back of a tiring worlds.
“But to come away with something, I am very pleased about that.”
The race was the highlight so far of an action-packed day at Alexander Stadium, where 14 of the 33 golds on offer on Saturday will be handed out.
There was also gold for Australia in the 10,000m race walk, Jemima Montag lapping the entire field with the exception of the other two women joining her on the podium, Priyanka Goswami of India taking silver and Emily Wamusyi Ngii of Kenya bronze.
High jump world champion Eleanor Patterson was also denied a golden double, the Australian settling for silver as Jamaica’s Lamara Distin took top spot with a height of 1.95m.
The men’s 3,000m steeplechase produced a nailbiter, with Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot beating India’s Avinash Mukund Sable for the gold by a wafer-thin 0.05 seconds.
England’s Nick Miller was the winner of the men’s hammer throw with an effort of 76.43m, with silver going to Canada’s Ethan Katzberg. (Reporting by Steve Keating in Birmingham; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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