Commonwealth Games: Day 6 Wrap

Sixth place on his Commonwealth Games debut has left Sam Fox hungry to take the next step up in his mountain biking.

The Launceston rider had a roller-coaster ride in Cannock Chase Forest, establishing himself in the lead five before suffering a first-lap puncture but then fighting back to work his way up to an impressive finish.
Racing five days before his 22nd birthday, the Australian under-23 champion was 11th after the first of eight laps before teaming up with veteran Olympian Dan McConnell to finish just three minutes behind New Zealand winner Sam Gaze, with McConnell six seconds further back.
"That was really good ... well, good and bad!" Fox said.
"I had a flat on the first lap which meant I was chasing from behind after what was actually a good start, I was sitting top five. So, disappointing in that respect, but really good to see that the legs were there and the lap times were good. Dan and I worked really well together and to have his experience on course today was really nice."
"It's actually the first flat I've had in a race for over two years I reckon. It's bound to happen at some point, I'm actually pretty surprised I haven't had more. You've just got to try and stay composed. I was pretty close to the tech zone so it wasn't full panic just stay calm, try not to waste any energy stressing about it. I lost a bit of time, maybe 20 seconds getting to the feed zone and then another 20 or 30 getting the wheel changed, but it was a really quick change, you just stand there and have a swig of a bottle, take a breath and try and get back into it without wasting too much energy.
"Considering the luck we had today, sixth is really good. It's just really cool to be here to be honest."
"There was only so much we expected from today, there's some pretty quick guys here and with mountain biking everything has to line up for you to get the result."
Fox has contested two junior world championships and has been a regular on the World Cup series this year, but said the Commonwealth Games was a totally different international experience.
"Obviously, with such a small field it spreads out a lot quicker and you find yourself time trialling a lot more but that means the flat didn't put me back as much. The track's pretty clear and you can just go your pace and ride back into it.
"It was great to have another Aussie to race with and we worked well together out there. That was really nice and made it a much more fun day than if I'd been grovelling here by myself trying to chase back on after a flat. I think that would be pretty grim."
Fox said the course - in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Stafford - did remind him of Tasmanian terrain.
"I'd probably compare it to Hollybank No Sweat: loose gravel hard-packed, some nice garden sections thrown in there, but mostly a twisty-turny, relatively flat course so not a lot of room to make up time. But that made it a really exciting race. The gaps were small so you saw quite a few sprint finishes and some close racing. Not a lot of technical features to really spread the field apart. The difference was made on the two short climbs."
The opportunity to represent his country on a big stage has Fox keen to return.
"I hadn't thought about Olympics until earlier this year but that's definitely the next goal for me," he said. "I'd really like to go to Paris and ideally Brisbane. I need to just keep developing, I'm happy with my skills, it's always the legs, there are some pretty talented athletes out there and if you want to be as quick as them, you've got to work pretty hard. And that's what I'll be doing over the next couple of years."

Ariarne Titmus completed her stunning Commonwealth Games campaign with a fourth gold medal in the 400m.
Added to the three she won in 2018, it means the 21-year-old Launceston freestyle specialist has been beaten just once in eight events across two Commonwealth Games - when she picked up silver behind Canadian Taylor Ruck in the 200m on the Gold Coast.
In Birmingham, Titmus has won the 200, 400 and 800m plus the 4x200m which came in world record time. She also claimed the 800m Games record and improved her own 400m Games record of 4:00.93 set in Glasgow with 3:58.06.
Canada's Summer McIntosh (3:59.32) took silver and Titmus's relay teammate Kiah Melverton (4:03.12) bronze.
"I came here with the goal to win all four," Titmus said. "I believed that I had the capacity to do that and I'm happy I did that. I definitely got pushed more than I did on the Gold Coast but that's great, it means the sport's moving and that keeps me motivated and on my toes. I'm not one of those youngsters that's up and coming any more, I guess, they're chasing me but I'm excited for that though."
"This meet was more about me coming here and having fun. That's what Commonwealth Games is and I'm happy to get the job done.
"I think it's really important personally to have that race practice in a really high-pressure situation. I think back home Australia really prides itself on success in the pool at Comm Games. Potentially there's more pressure to win here than at the Olympics sometimes because we're so dominant and performing under that pressure is tough. I felt the expectation after last year, I think people are expecting me to win and I'm excited to get the job done for myself but also for the country."
Asked how she reflected on her Birmingham experience, the Queensland-based swimmer added: "This has been great, the whole village experience and being with the broader Australian team. COVID's definitely still there but I think we've really enjoyed ourselves as a team and it's just been fun.
I remember back to the Gold Coast and it's been very similar to those which I have great memories from."
Titmus, who also established the world record (3:56.40) in Adelaide in May, had earlier won her heat at Sandwell Aquatics Centre in 4:08.25, leading home Lani Pallister and Melverton.

Rebecca Van Asch and her teammates Lynsey Clarke and Natasha van Eldik had a busy afternoon in the women's triples bowls at Leamington Spa.
Fresh from a comfortable 21-11 opening victory against Singapore, the team faced a double-header with games at 3pm and 6pm.
The Falkland Islands were dispatched 29-8. Scores remained close after 11 ends with just two points separating the teams but Singapore did not register another point as the Aussies won seven straight ends including a six-pointer on the last.
However, South Africa inflicted Australia's first loss, 17-12, in the late game. The lead fluctuated over the first six ends but then South Africa won six on the trot to go 15-7 up and never looked back.
The Aussies face their final pool game overnight Thursday against Northern Ireland with quarter-finals scheduled for 3am Friday morning.

Eddie Ockenden, Josh Beltz and their Kookaburras teammates made it three wins from three with a 3-0 victory over South Africa.
A stunning trap from Ockenden set up the first goal for Jake Whetton before Blake Govers doubled the lead at the University of Birmingham Hockey Centre. Aran Zalewski added a third late on as Australia also struck the frame of the goal three times.
Seeking to continue their run of seven straight Commonwealth hockey gold medals, the Kookaburras have already beaten Scotland (12-0) and New Zealand (7-2) and conclude their group commitments against Pakistan at 6am on Friday, with semi-finals and finals to follow.