Decathlon silver and bronze, but Australia goes without Games gold for the first time

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Australia began day eight of the Commonwealth Games with 50 gold medals, a metaphorical bat raised towards the pavilion with hopes of more. Instead, after such a dominant opening week, the Australian team stalled for the first time and failed to add to their golden tally in Birmingham.

Host nation England immediately closed the gap on the medal table with a change of gold to sit on 47, just three behind with as many days remaining. But the one-day drought did not mean the day was a complete disappointment for Australia.

Related: Commonwealth Games 2022: day eight in pictures

Decathlete Cedric Dubler will forever be remembered for the outstanding sportsmanship and selflessness he showed at the Tokyo Olympics last year, but for all the backslapping that followed, Dubler is a competitive animal and he wanted his own medal. Now he has a bronze.

Over the past two days, the Queenslander took center stage throughout the decathlon as he engaged in a fascinating battle with Grenadian Lindon Victor and fellow Australian Daniel Golubovic. After eight events, Dubler had the lead. But defending Commonwealth Games champion Victor hit back strongly in the javelin, his favorite event, to take control. At the end, Golubovic also passed Dubler as he took the 1500m in brilliant fashion to win the silver in what proved to be a great event to watch.

Australia also produced medal-winning performances at the gymnastics and aquatics centre, while Jayden Lawrence took a bronze in wrestling in the 86kg class. Despite competing in his last two games with a torn ACL, the 27-year-old managed to win the country’s first medal in the sport since the 2010 Delhi Games. Asked if fighting through the pain was worth it, he said Seven networks; “The Bloody Oath.”

Diver Brittany O’Brien was struggling to jump off the platform in her favorite 10m race a year ago when her coach suggested a change in focus. She switched to the springboard and will return to Australia with a silver medal after an outstanding effort in the 1m competition.

Sam Fricker teamed up with Shixin Li for a bronze medal on the 3m springboard, while Dom Bedggood and Cassiel Rousseau matched the feat on the synchronized 10m platform. Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva also took bronze in the rhythmic gymnastics around the event.

Brittany O'Brien on her way to silver in the 1 meter springboard.

Brittany O’Brien on her way to silver in the 1 meter springboard. Photo: Darren England/AAP

On the track, Ella Connolly qualified for the women’s 200m final with a time of 23.41 seconds, while Michelle Jenneke hurdled superbly in the 100m. Connolly ran a brilliant semi-final as she finished second behind Namibian teenager Christine Mboma in an outstanding performance she described as “crazy”.

The final appeals as a match race between Mboma and Jamaican legend Elaine Thompson-Herah, who is looking to complete a Commonwealth Games 100m and 200m sprint double after completing the feat in Rio De Janeiro and the Tokyo Olympics. But Connelly has vowed to give her best as she fights for a medal. “I’ve got to get off to a good start again and keep my form in the last 100 meters and just stay relaxed,” she said.

Jenneke ran a personal best of 12.63 seconds as she qualified for the 100m hurdles final, although it will not count towards her official record given that it was wind assisted. The key to her return to form, and to success this weekend, is to stay happy and relaxed. “I’m not someone who likes to be super focused on what I’m doing. Even in the conference room I talk to officials. That’s what I do, she said.

But there was disappointing news for cycling star Caleb Ewan who was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s road race after undergoing surgery to remove a disc from his collarbone. Ewan is devastated, as is Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Nicola Olyslagers, who has withdrawn from the women’s high jump final on Saturday with a calf tear.

The Hockeyroos capped off an entertaining Friday as they defeated India in a penalty shoot-out, avenging a heartbreaking loss in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics in doing so. But it was not without drama, with India leveling late at 1-1 to force a penalty shootout. Australia were able to score their first three tries in the shootout, while India failed to convert, to advance to Sunday’s final against England. It could turn out to be a decisive match for the total medal count.

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