No Games glory for Aus

2006-03-26 10:45
Melbourne - Mighty Australia fell agonisingly short of the Commonwealth Games gold medal record on Sunday but the hosts reconfirmed their place as the event's superpower with a huge 84 titles.

Australia's total was just three short of the record they set in Victoria in 1994, and exactly the same as the golds gleaned by England (36), Canada (26) and India (22) combined.

The final day of action saw Natalie Grinham complete a squash treble, their men's field hockey side complete a bruising 3-0 win over Pakistan while Natalie Bates and Matthew Hayman took the cycling road races.

But the unlikely figure of slender Canadian gymnast Alexandra Orlando muscled in on the Australian headline grabbers by joining national heroes Ian Thorpe and Susie O'Neill by capturing six gold medals at the same Games.

Australia's bitter rivals New Zealand won the last gold of the 245-medal Games with a thrilling 60-55 victory in the netball, dethroning the defending champions.

In field hockey, Liam De Young, Luke Doerner and Jamie Dwyer scored the goals that ensured a successful title defence for the Koookaburras who have not lost a match since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday's win, which followed the Australian women's success on Saturday, was secured after a stormy encounter watched by Australian and British premiers John Howard and Tony Blair respectively.

Pakistan's Tariq Aziz was ordered off with a red card after a deliberate foul on Robert Hammond who came off with blood pouring from his mouth.

"My lip will hurt but the gold medal is there forever," said Hammond.

Malaysia claimed the bronze with a 2-0 win over England.

Nineteen-year-old Toronto student Alexandra Orlando earned a place in the record books by snaring six golds in the rhythmic gymnastics and joined Australian swimming stars Ian Thorpe and Susie O'Neill, as well as compatriot and swimmer Graham Smith, as the only athletes to win six golds at one Games.

"I am speechless right now but I'm glad I did it for my country," she said.

Natalie Grinham completed a squash triple gold sweep.

The younger of the two squash-playing sisters teamed up with Joseph Kneipp to take the mixed doubles and then joined sister Rachael, who she beat to take singles gold, for the women's doubles.

"It's unbelievable to win three gold medals," said Natalie.

"After a shower and a break it will sink in and I will probably be screaming from the rooftops."

England's Peter Nicol and Lee Beachill won the men's doubles gold.

India's Sharath Achanta prevailed over William Henzell of Australia for the table tennis men's gold.

"There have been a lot of expectations on me, from my nation, my parents, my coaches," admitted Achanta.

In the women's singles final, Singapore's Zhang Xue Ling sprang a surprise over compatriot Li Jia Wei to win gold while Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and England's Tracey Hallam were crowned king and queen of the badminton courts.

Lee, the world No.2, beat compatriot Wong Choong Hann to win the men's competition while Hallam spoiled the Malaysian party by easing past Wong Mew Choo.

In women's road racing, Natalie Bates and Mathew Hayman brought home the gold for Australia.

Away from the action, a second Games participant was charged with indecent assault at the athletes' village.

This time a 40-year-old Bangladeshi athlete was the one in trouble and he will appear in court on Monday after police confiscated his passport.

Three more Sierra Leone athletes went missing bringing to 14 the number that vanished - two-thirds of their 21-strong squad.

The Games were to wrap up with the closing ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground later on Sunday with a Bollywood theme at its heart to welcome in the hosting of the next Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010.

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