Kiwi Squash pair on track but runners miss out
FAIRFAX REPORTERS IN GLASGOW
On a day where New Zealand's boxers deservedly hogged the limelight in Glasgow, squash players Joelle King and Martin Knight remained on track to win a second consecutive mixed doubles medal.
The combination that claimed silver in Delhi four years ago made the medal round of semifinals this morning (NZ time) with a come-from-behind win over the Indian pairing of Pal Harinder Sandhu and Joshana Chinappa.
The Kiwis lost the first set 11-7 but recovered to win the next two 11-8 11-6 in a 55-minute match. Their semifinal will be tomorrow morning (NZT), with the gold and bronze-medal matches on the last day of competition in Glasgow.
Lance Beddoes and Paul Coll came within a whisker of pulling off another huge upset in the men's doubles competition.
Less than 24 hours after knocking out higher-ranked compatriots Martin Knight and Campbell Grayson, the Kiwi 11th seeds almost beat the third-seeded English combination of Daryl Selby and James Willstrop.
In a match that lasted an hour and eight minutes, Beddoes and Coll eventually succumbed 8-11 11-6 9-11.
Not surprisingly, Beddoes found it tough to back up when sent back out on court almost immediately after.
He and partner Amanda Launders-Murphy were beaten 11-1 11-8 in their mixed doubles quarterfinal by a strong Australian duo of Cameron Pilley and Kasey Brown.
New Zealand will get two shots at a historic boxing gold on finals night at the Commonwealth Games.
Hamilton teenager David Nyika has won his way through to the gold medal match in the 81kg lightheavyweight division, while Auckland's David Light won his semfinal in the 91kg heavyweight category against Scottish opponent Stephen Lavelle.
The atmosphere was white hot at the Scotland Exhibition and Conference Centre boxing arena as Light took on the local hero, winning a close decision after three arduous rounds.
Nyika and Light will be fighting for New Zealand's first gold medal since 1990 and their bouts get underway on Sunday morning (NZT).
Nyika takes on Mauritius' fighter Kennedy St Pierre, while Light will be up against Canada's Samir El-Mais.
Nyika knew he had won and he could afford himself a small celebration in the ring, as he raised his arms and acknowledged his family and a contingent of New Zealand supporters, including the team's chef de mission, Rob Waddell.
St Pierre won his semifinal against Welshman Nathan Thornley by technical knockout in the third round.
The men's diving team of Liam Stone and Li Feng Yang finished last in their six-strong field in the synchronised 3m springboard at Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool.
The pairing, who get limited training time together because they live in different cities, were in fifth place heading into the last of their six dives but were overtaken by the Canadians.
It's the first time since 1998 that New Zealand has had male divers at a Commonwealth Games.
Stone will now return home to prepare for the junior world championships in two weeks' time, while Feng Yang competes tomorrow in the men's 10m platform.
Michelle Chan and Anna Rankin were both bundled out at the quarterfinal stage of the women's singles, Chan losing 2-0 to Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour and Rankin losing by the same margin to India's PV Sindhu.
The Black Sticks women's team will have to re-group quickly if they are to avoid leaving Glasgow empty-handed.
The No 2 ranked side in Glasgow were upset by England overnight 3-1 in a shootout. New Zealand were far from their best throughout the match, but a late Katie Glynn equaliser left the semifinal tied at 1-1.
New Zealand had plenty of ball, but were meek throughout, a much too common occurrence for this side in big matches.
After captain Kayla Whitelock scored New Zealand's first effort in the shootout, experienced stars Anita Punt, Glynn and Stacey Michelsen all missed.
"Gutted. Disappointed," Whitelock said bluntly.
"We didn't come out and play like we normally do and that's the most frustrating part. We were timid."
Whitelock and co play South Africa tomorrow morning in the bronze medal match after the South Africans were thumped 7-1 by Australia.
The women's double pairing of sisters Karen and Li Chunli beat Malaysia 3-0 to set up a quarterfinal against Singapore's Tianwei Feng and Mengyu Yu, but were beaten 3-0.
Kiwi lawn bowler Shannon McIlroy lost his bronze medal match with Australia's Aron Sherriff, paying the price for a poor start.
McIlroy won the first end with a single shot, but didn't get on the scoreboard again until the 10th end. By that time the Aussie led 13-2 in the first to 21 final. McIlroy was eventually beaten 21-8 after 19 mainly low scoring ends.
New Zealand finished with three medals from the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls; a gold to Jo Edwards in the women's singles, a silver to Mark Noble, Barry Wynks and Lynda Bennett in the Para-bowls triple and a bronze to the women's four of Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy, Val Smith and Mandy Boyd.
New Zealand's runners have missed out on silverware on the penultimate night of track and field in Glasgow.
Angie Smit finished fifth in the women's 800m final, in a time of two minutes 01.94 seconds, two places ahead of Delhi silver medallist Nikki Hamblin.
Kenyan Eunice Jepkoech Sum won gold in 2:00.31, with Scotland's Lynsey Sharp second and Uganda's Winnie Nanyondo third.
Moments earlier, Jake Robertson was ninth in the men's 10,000m final. He was handily placed all race but couldn't go with the Africans when they broke away with 300m to go and finished in 28:03.70.
Ugandan Moses Kipsiro, the quickest man in the field, made a late burst to win gold in 27:56.11, with Kenyan Josphat Kipkoech Bett second and Canada's Cameron Levins third.
It was the biggest occasion of his athletics career but it didn't faze the forgotten man of New Zealand's athletics squad.
Julian Matthews responded to the noise of a full house at Hampden Park to run a quicker time than compatriot Nick Willis and qualify alongside his track hero for the Commonwealth Games 1500m final.
The Nelson runner snuck into tomorrow's 1500m race for medals (6.35am NZT) as one of the fastest losers in heat two, clocking 3min 40.33sec in finishing fifth.
Before the Commonwealth Games, the biggest crowd Auckland discus thrower Siositina Hakeai had competed in front of was about 1000 people at the world junior championships.
She was understandably "nervous as hell", throwing in today's women's discus final before a capacity crowd of 44,000 at Scotland's national stadium, Hampden Park, so she felt finishing fourth, less than a metre off her personal best, and gaining this experience would stand her in good stead.
While Hakeai launched her international career, a teary-eyed Sarah Cowley was unsure if she had jumped her last jump.
The 30-year-old was ninth in the women's high jump final and said she had plenty to contemplate after the initial disappointment died away.
Hakeai's best throw of the night, 58.67m, was 98cm shot of her personal best but it was a good, solid effort on an overwhelming night for the 20-year-old.
She was 1.81m off third-placed Jade Lally, of England, with Australian Dani Samuels (64.88m) first and Indian Seema Punia (61.61m) second.
There was some speculation Samuels might eclipse Kiwi Beatrice Faumuina's Games record but she fell short of the 65.92m mark, set at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
"It wasn't what I wanted but it wasn't far from my PB, it's my first Commonwealth Games, I'm the youngest person in the field, I came fourth, I can't complain too much," Hakeai said.
"All I know is there's a lot more to come from me, and I'm going to take this as a learning process.
"I was nervous as hell. When I grabbed the discus, my hand was shaking. This was my first time competing in front of so many people."
She had taken on board some words of wisdom from her room-mate, shot put champion Val Adams, who had told her to not try too hard and just relax in front of the big crowd.
Hakeai was hoping to take a week off before returning to winter training. Her goal is to qualify for next year's world championships and of course the Rio Olympics in 2016.
"There's a lot more to come from me."
Cowley said she felt good in the high jump but lacked rhythm as she missed three times at 1.89m, which she had achieved earlier this season. Her personal best is 1.91m.
"I'm disappointed not to have gone over the 1.89m and give myself another chance," the London Olympic heptathlete said.
"There's no excuses. I did my best and my team prepared me well, it's just a shame I couldn't deliver.
"I thought I was capable of much more than what I cleared. I knew it would take a PB but I'm in PB shape."
Australian Eleanor Patterson cleared 1.94m to win gold from England's Isobel Pooley, who edged St Lucia's Levern Spencer for silver on countback after both women cleared 1.92m.
As for Cowley, she doesn't know what the future holds.
"It's time to reflect on this and, once I get over the disappointment, enjoy this campaign.
"I don't know if it's my last jump, or whatever, but all I know is that's it's really been a privilege."
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