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Gold for Riley Day as Aussies sweep medals

Monday, 24 July 2017 | Athletics Australia



Riley Day (Qld), Bendere Oboya (NSW), Sean Szalek (WA), Carley Thomas (NSW), Neil Janse (Qld), Alex Kolesnikoff (NSW) and Ella Connolly (Qld) are just some of the names to remember for the future as Team Australia collects 17 medals at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games.

The athletics team of 23 will leave Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in the Bahamas with extra baggage in tow, after the team walked away with eight gold, seven silver and two bronze medals.

On the final day of competition, schoolgirl sprinter Riley Day raced to victory in the girl’s 200m, powering her way through a headwind in a time of 23.42.

In a impressive Games for the 17-year-old Queenslander, Day won three medals in the Bahamas, including a silver in the girl’s 100m and a gold in the mixed 4x100m relay team alongside Ella Connolly, Jake Doran (Qld) and Ben Schmidtchen (Qld).

On day 1 of the Games, the Beaudesert local equalled her personal best of 11.59 (-0.3) in the girl’s 100m, with just three hundredths of a second separating her title winner Julien Alfred from St Lucia.

An injured and emotional Sean Szalek dedicated his gold medal victory in the high jump to his mother, who is currently recovering from successful cancer surgery back in his hometown of Swanbourne, Western Australia.

On crutches as he sang the national anthem, Szalek’s 2.11m was enough to take the gold medal as his coach and father Bo looked on with pride.

After four faultless clearances Szalek dramatically rolled his ankle badly on take-off after attempting to clear a new personal best of 2.15m, and was taken to the medical tent in a shocked but elated state.

Earlier in the championships, Bendere Oboya cemented herself as one of the most exciting and promising 400m runners in the country after taking out the gold medal in a personal best time of 52.69 seconds.

With teammate Ella Connolly just 0.03 seconds behind, Australia shared the top two podium positions in the one-lap event.

Oboya's rise to her newfound international success has been nothing less than remarkable, with the Ethiopian-born teenager taking up the sport less than two years ago.

The 17-year-old from Pendle Hill High in Sydney’s west clocked a Commonwealth Games 'B' qualifier in her run, and is now Australia's fourth fastest U18 female over 400m ever, sitting behind the likes of Jana Pittman, Jess Thornton and Michelle Baumgartner.

A final last-gasp dash to the line secured another gold for Australia, as 16-year-old Carley Thomas (NSW) took the win in the girl’s 800m in a personal best time of 2:05.04. Teammate Keely Small (ACT) was swamped at the line, as she led with just 15 metres to go but lost momentum to finish in fifth.

Thomas has strong athletic pedigree to her name, with her father Bruce known for his impressive seventh place finish in the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman triathlon.

Alexander Kolesnikoff reigned supreme in the boy’s shot put, producing a mighty 19.76m to snatch victory from New Zealand’s Nicholas Palmer.

Queensland’s Neil Janse was dominant in the boy’s javelin, taking gold with a throw of 74.19m, nearly five metres ahead of his nearest rival. Teammate Oscar Sullivan (Qld) claimed bronze with his 66.23 metre effort, while Ellie Bowyer (Qld) took the silver medal in the girl’s javelin with a throw of 50.64m.

The final event of the day also saw Australia take gold as Bendere Oboya, Carley Thomas, Sebastien Moir (NSW) and Jordan Doris (NSW) combined in the mixed 4x400m relay to take a hard-fought win in 3:25.08, just a step ahead of second-placegetters England.

Queensland long jumper Ben Schmidtchen also had a successful Games, winning silver with a jump of 7.54m (+2.1).

In his debut performance in the green and gold, the sky is the limit for Schmidtchen, who won the Australian Under 15 championship in high jump in his first year of competition, and also won the 2016 U17 Australian title in the triple jump.

2017 Australian junior sprint hurdles champion Lateisha Willis (Vic) won silver in her pet event, stopping the clock in 13.55 seconds in the final of the girl’s 100m hurdles to take silver behind Jamaican Shanette Allison. Fellow Aussie Tiana Death (NSW) finished in 6th place.

High jumper Emily Whelan (NSW) bagged her first international medal, taking silver in the girl’s high jump with a clearance of 1.79m – just 1cm off her personal best.

In the boy’s 800m, NSW athlete Jordan Doris fought his way home to win silver in a time of 1:52.82 behind England’s Alex Botterill.

See more at Commonwealth Games Australia

For detailed results visit