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Amos beats Rudisha to gold at Commonwealth Games

AP, AFP-JIJI

Nijel Amos of Botswana turned the tables on Olympic champion David Rudisha to win the 800-meter gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on a cool, rainy Thursday night at Hampden Park.

Amos, who finished second to Rudisha at the 2012 London Games, cut outside with about 30 meters to go and swept past the world record holder from Kenya to win in 1 minute, 45.18 seconds. Rudisha was second, .30 seconds behind. Amos’ training partner, Andre Olivier of South Africa, took the bronze.

“To me, he will always be a hero,” Amos said, patting Rudisha on the back.

Rudisha started in the lane inside Amos and, as usual, made sure he went straight out to the front of the pack when it broke, the Botswanan and Australian Jeffrey Riseley on his coattails.

Going through the bell in 52.71 seconds, the pack remained bunched behind Rudisha. His Kenyan teammate Ferguson Rotich surged and Rudisha stuck with him as Amos lurked on their shoulder.

Rudisha looked set as he rounded the final bend in the lead, but he had not counted on Amos’ finishing kick.

“The race was good but the last 100 meters was difficult. I didn’t have good preparations,” Rudisha said in reference to a calf injury that only saw him make his track comeback in May.

“I am happy to achieve what I have although I would, of course, liked to have won a gold medal.

“Amos is a tough competitor. We were racing together in a tactical race but he was better tonight.”

Amos was quick to heap praise on Rudisha.

“I don’t think I’m the man,” he said modestly. “I will only be the man when I have broken the world record five times.”

Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria won the 200 to complete the 100-200 sprint double, and Rasheed Dwyer led a medal sweep for Jamaica in the men’s 200.

“It wasn’t really favorable weather,” Okagbare said. “But two gold medals, that’s something to celebrate.”

Sally Pearson, the 2012 Olympic champion from Australia, qualified fastest for Friday’s 100 hurdles final despite having to deal with some off-track drama. Eric Hollingsworth, head coach of the athletics team, was ordered to return home as punishment for releasing an unauthorized statement criticizing Pearson for not attending a pre-Glasgow training camp.

Pearson easily won her heat — the second of three — then waved to the crowd and smiled at a group of Australian supporters in the stadium.

“I switched off from all the negativity,” Pearson said. “I’ve sort of forced myself not to go there, and I’ve put myself into this head space that I know is positive.”

Shiva Gowda won the men’s discus with a throw of 63.64 meters to end India’s 56-year gold medal drought in men’s athletics at the games. The last and previously only male Indian to claim a gold medal in athletics was Milkha Singh in the 440-yard race at the Cardiff Games in 1958.

Apostolos Parellis of Cyprus claimed silver (63.32) while Jason Morgan took bronze (62.34), becoming the first Jamaican to claim a medal in the event since Bernard Prendergast at the 1934 Commonwealth Games in London.

“No words can describe it. I am so happy this has been on my calendar for the whole year. I got second last time in Delhi, so I definitely wanted to improve on that,” said Gowda.