A squash veteran who came out of retirement to chase Commonwealth Games glory has provided his career – and Australia’s underwhelming Commonwealth Games campaign – with a positive note at the close.
David Palmer, a 38-year-old who first became world No.1 13 years ago, achieved his goal twice in one afternoon as he collected two of four gold medals won by Australia on Sunday.
England (58 gold) completed its overall triumph in Glasgow on the final day of competition, topping the medal tally to relegate Australia (49 gold) to second spot for the first time in 28 years.
It is the first time England has beaten Australia to top spot since the 1986 Games in Edinburgh.
But there was some late consolation as Australia’s all-conquering netball and men’s hockey teams joined Palmer in winning gold.
Four-time British Open champion Palmer came out of retirement 12 months ago to compete in Glasgow in a bid to add gold to the two silvers and four bronzes he already had to his name.
On Sunday he teamed up with Rachael Grinham to win mixed-doubles gold, then backed up later to claim the men’s doubles title with Cameron Pilley.
“This is a dream come true,” Palmer said.
“But that’s it – I think I am done now.”
It followed the triumph of Australia’s netball team, the Diamonds, who broke the mould of usually close trans-Tasman netball battles as they trounced the New Zealand 58-40 to avenge painful defeats in the 2006 Melbourne and 2010 Delhi deciders.
The Diamonds’ winning margin of 18 was easily a record for a Games netball final, eclipsing the previous biggest of five, when the Kiwis won 60-55 in Melbourne.
Coach Lisa Alexander revealed she had likened the campaign to win Australia’s first Commonwealth Games gold since 2002 to climbing Mount Everest.
“I’ve been showing them pictures of it (Mt Everest) and it was the summit today,” Alexander said.
The Kookaburras – world champions like the Diamonds – belted India 4-0 in the men’s hockey final to retain their perfect record with five gold medals since the sport joined the Games in 1998.
Not even the retirement of master coach Ric Charlesworth and the dropping of superstar Jamie Dwyer could hamper the Kookaburras’ momentum as they preserved a flawless Games record, having never lost a match at the event.
One of the most dominant teams in world sport is showing no sign of slowing down.
“We talk about hunting greatness at the moment,” said co-coach Graham Reid.
“Because you have to keep doing it.
“Yes, the World Cup was won this year, but we have to do it again.”
Australia’s cyclists missed out on medals in the men’s and women’s road races, won by Wales’ Geraint Thomas and England’s Lizzie Armitstead, respectively.
Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles carried the flag for Australia at Sunday night’s closing ceremony; and the Games return in four years time on the Gold Coast.
FIVE BEST AUSSIE MOMENTS OF THE GAMES
After an injury-interrupted lead-up and the dramas surrounding Athletics Australia head coach Eric Hollingsworth, it would have been understandable had Sally Pearson struggled in Glasgow. Instead, the defending Olympic 100m hurdles champion was magnificent. She was seamless in qualifying first for the final and didn’t miss a beat in downing Tiffany Porter in the decider. A true champion.
Relaying a message
World records were few and far between in Glasgow but the Australian 4x100m women’s freestyle swim team weren’t mucking around when they hit the pool on the first night of competition at the Games. The team of Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Melanie Schlanger ripped 0.74secs off the world record held by the Dutch in the supersuit era of 2009. Pushed by the Americans, they may well go even better at the Gold Coast Pan Pacs later this month.
Anna Meares became Australia’s most successful female track cyclist when she took out the 500m individual time trial in Glasgow, topping Cathy Watt with the fifth Games gold medal of her career. But that was only the half of it. Meares had been expected to win the sprint. too. but was instead beaten by roommate Stephanie Morton. Rather than detract from the story, it made it more poignant as the champion embraced and shed a tear with her friend, and perhaps passed on the baton in her sport.
The world No.2 side gave us the impression they were going to do it easy in Glasgow, especially off the back of their final appearance at the world championship and sweeping through their qualifying games and semi-final at the Games. But the two-times Commonwealth champions weren’t banking on the English snatching a 1-0 lead in the final and all but holding onto it. With just 15 seconds left on the clock, Jodie Kenny equalised before goalkeeper Rachael Lynch pulled off three brilliant saves in a penalty shootout to hand her side the drama-charged win.
David Palmer waited 12 years for this moment. Coming out of retirement for one last crack at a Games gold, it all went on the line for the Australian squash great on the last day of competition. The four-time British Open champion and former world No.1 did the job first in the mixed doubles with Rachael Grinham and then backed up for the men’s doubles final just 15 minutes later with Cameron Pilley to make it two gold in one day. He then retired.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.