Nigeria’s Goodness Chiemerie Nwachukwu’s flying start in the women’s discus F42-44/61-64 put her on top of the podium at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Thursday (4 August).
In her first two throws, the 23-year-old broke her own F42 world record* twice, with a best of 36.56m to win gold. It was an outstanding performance witnessed by a capacity crowd at the Alexander Stadium.
Australia’s Sarah Edmiston picked up silver and a Games record in the F44 sport class with a throw of 34.96m. Fiji’s Naibili’s Vatunisolo claimed bronze in the F42 after her personal best throw of 23.70m.
Nwachukwu, who is also a national Para canoe athlete, said after the medal ceremony: “I couldn’t believe that I broke my world record* twice. I am so happy.
“Before the event I thought if I can get a silver or bronze, I am okay with that, rather than go back empty-handed, but I didn’t believe that I could make it to the top. I felt nervous beforehand. It has been so nice to be here.”
The powerhouse of men’s discus, Aled Davies, secured gold for Wales in the F42-44/61-64 on Wednesday (3). The three-time Paralympic, six-time World and four-time European champion, threw 51.39m to set a new F42 Games record.
His Welsh teammate, Harrison Walsh, a former rugby star who turned to discus after a serious knee injury, secured bronze and an F44 Commonwealth Games record in 54.76m. Sri Lanka’s Palitha Halgahawela Gedara claimed silver with a personal best throw of 44.20m.
“It’s really special,” said Davies. “We’re really proud to do it for Wales and it’s something that’s really close to my heart.”
There were outstanding performances on the track, too, with Madison de Rozario becoming Australia’s first Para athlete to win four Commonwealth Games medals.
The two-time Paralympic champion retained her Gold Coast 2018 marathon T54 title last Saturday and on Thursday successfully defended her 1500m T53/54 title.
The 28-year-old wheelchair racer led from the front closely followed by teammate Angela Ballard and Scotland’s Samantha Kinghorn. She crossed the line in 3:53.03 with Ballard in silver and Kinghorn bronze.
“That was unreal, it was so good,” said De Rozario. “It got a bit tricky towards the end; I’m happy to come away with that one. I haven’t done a lot of track work and the track is so technical, you get out of the habit of it.
“I made a few mistakes, but it all came together, and I am really happy with it.”
Also leading from the front was South Africa’s Ndodomzi Ntutu the reigning Commonwealth champion in the men’s 100m T12. He dominated the T11/12 race to claim victory in 10.83 on Thursday, which was quicker than at the Gold Coast 2018, where he landed in 11.02.
Ntutu was pursued by England T12 sprinter Zachary Shaw who finished in silver with Namibia’s T11 sprinter, Ananias Shikongo, upgrading his fourth place four years ago to claim bronze.
“It was always going to be a struggle not just for my own performance, but at the same time there is a home crowd here and a home sprinter [Shaw] next to me,” said Ntutu.
“But I overcame that, and it felt like the crowd was cheering for me, so I believe we had a very good race. I did my best and I am happy with it.”
There were also celebrations for Australian Paralympic legend Evan O’Hanlon who successfully defended his Commonwealth Games title in the men’s 100m T37/38 final on Wednesday.
The five-time Paralympic and eight-time world champion set a T37 Games record and season’s best when he crossed the line in 11.23. He was followed home by two-time Paralympic champion Charl du Toit from South Africa in 11.65, which was a T38 Games record and a season’s best. Canada’s Zachary Gingras claimed bronze.
"This victory is pretty nice because I can do it in front of my four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, and hopefully they will remember it," said O'Hanlon.
Schedule, results and all medallists from this year’s Commonwealth Games can be found here.
*Subject to ratification by World Para Athletics.