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Medal magic for Hampshire's Commonwealths competitors

Two silvers and a bronze were won by high jump, hockey and diving stars from our area

Isobel Pooley and her Commonwealth Games high jump silver medal
Isobel Pooley was "absolutely elated" with her silver medal

Isobel Pooley admitted she was still pinching herself after leaping to a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games with a personal best jump of 1.92m.

The Aldershot, Farnham & District club athlete led for the majority of the competition, producing a string of excellent first time clearances.

But after her Australian rival Eleanor Patterson cleared 1.94, Pooley knew she had to go three centimetres higher than her PB to claim gold, but despite going desperately close with her second attempt she fell just short.

“I’m absolutely elated with silver," the 21-year-old said.

"I’ve found some more self-belief this competition and that’s what it’s all about so I backed that up with my PB of 1.92 and the silver medal.

"I’ve been asking people ‘did I really clear that? I got silver, right?'. Because I just can’t imagine it’s true.

“It was just a leap of faith and I went for it and the crowd were going mental and it took a few seconds for me to register it."

After her clearance, Pooley put her hands on her ears to block out the noise of the announcer and prevent herself from hearing how her rivals progressed.

But while she admitted it was slightly strange, it was something she said she had to do.

“I couldn’t watch, I knew I had to stay in the zone, I just stuck my fingers in my ears and tried not to listen to what the commentator was saying," she added.

"As an athlete I don’t want to hear what he’s saying so I just focused on me and it worked out, so people probably thought I was crazy walking around with my hands clamped over my ears but it worked.”

Alex Danson in action at the Commonwealth Games
Alex Danson scored three times for England in their run to the hockey final
 

Sadly, the Commonwealth Games will be Pooley’s only international competition this year as she narrowly missed out on European Championships qualification by two centimetres, but although disappointed Pooley said she would learn from the experience.

“The focus was always the Commonwealth Games, I’ve been peaking for this so there’s no reason I couldn’t have jumped high at the Europeans as well," she concluded.

"I really feel disappointed not to be there, disappointed not to qualify, but it’s my own fault I didn’t get the standard.

"It will make it even sweeter in two years when I do make it in my own right.”

Meanwhile, AFD team-mate Emelia Gorecka admitted she was disappointed with her valiant eighth place in the Commonwealth women's 5,000m, to cap an excellent breakthrough in the senior athletics.

Despite running the majority of the race by herself following an electric change of pace from the leaders, the British champion stayed strong and kept pushing until the end, eventually finishing in a time of 15:40.33.

'Change of pace'

Gorecka told Get Hampshire : “The time they won it in is my PB so I’m so gutted, it’s just the way they ran it was hard, I need to now learn the way to run in a big championship.

"I’m 20 now so it was never going to be easy but I felt like I could be higher up in the field.

"I wanted to come here and compete, I wasn’t going to go for the experience, I wanted to compete and that’s why I put myself out there, and then I maybe thought I’d have a chance to be at least in the top five and when they had that break I was still thinking.

“I didn’t think the first lap would be that slow, it was ridiculously slow and then the change of pace was something I wasn’t prepared for, if it had started quick then I probably would have maintained it a bit better.

"The change of pace isn’t there yet it’s just development and maintenance that are the main things that need to be improved.

Running in the same race, fellow AFD athlete Steph Twell, representing Scotland, finished back in 14th in a time of 16:30.66 as her lack of race fitness showed following an injury-hit season.

Elsewhere, Twell's club and Team Scotland mate, Lennie Waite, finished 10th in the 3,000m Steeplechase, while Harvey Dixon, making his first appearance in a major championship for Gibraltar, set a new national record of 3:44.67 to finish ninth in his semi-final of the men's 1,500m.

Freddie Woodward (left) and Nick Robinson-Baker at the Commonwealth Games
Nick Robinson-Baker (right) won bronze in the diving 3m Synchro with Freddie Woodward
 

Away from the track, Fleet hockey star Alex Danson came seconds away from picking up a Commonwealth Games gold medal after her England side were denied victory in the final by a heartbreaking last-minute equaliser from reigning champions Australia.

Danson, who had scored three goals en route to the final, helped on Susie Gilbert's cross for Lily Owsley to fire England in front just after half time.

But just when they could dream of gold, Australia were awarded a penalty corner in the final minute and after the initial play was re-taken due to encroachment, Jodie Kenny found the back of the net with 17 seconds left on the clock.

It meant the gold medal was decided by a shoot-out, but England - who beat New Zealand by the same method in the semi-final - were unable to repeat the trick as Danson's miss culminated in a 3-1 defeat.

She later tweeted: “We gave everything we had, devastated, but I wouldn’t change a thing for moments like this. Our time will come #thankyou.”

There was another medal in the diving pool too with Farnborough's Nick Robinson-Baker picking up bronze in the 3m Synchro.

Alongside team-mate Freddie Woodward, the pair totalled 364.41 points from their six dives, good enough for bronze behind English team-mates Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, who took the gold and Australians Matthew Mitcham and Grant Nel in second place.

 
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