By Greg Stutchbury
GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) – Bronte Campbell repaid the faith in her by Australia’s selectors as she chased down Canada’s Taylor Ruck in the final leg of the 4×100 metres medley relay to ensure the home nation won their eighth successive Commonwealth Games title on Tuesday.
Australia’s coaches had chosen 100m freestyle champion Bronte over her elder sister Cate to bring their team home, with the decision likely to have been heavily dissected by local media had they not won the title.
Cate had swum a blistering split time of 51.00 in the 4x100m freestyle relay to help set the world record and with Canada’s strong opening with Kylie Masse and Kierra Smith, the sprint between Bronte and Ruck was expected to be wafer thin.
The gamble, however, paid off with Bronte and the Canadian hitting the water together after Emma McKeon had dragged Australia back into the race on the butterfly, before the 23-year-old hauled in Ruck in the final few metres.
“I was just focusing on Em,” Campbell said of her watching as McKeon and Olympic 100m freestyle champion Penny Oleksiak duelled in the butterfly.
“She gave me a really good finish at the end there to get off on. I just tried bringing it home in the end, and we managed to.”
Ruck, who won eight medals in total to surpass Elaine Tanner’s seven medals in the pool in Kingston in 1966 as the most successful Canadian at a single Commonwealth Games, said she still felt overjoyed with silver.
“Amazing swim on that relay. As much as we were going for gold, it’s amazing to get a silver too,” she said.
“It was really close, and the crowd was going wild.
“That first 50 metres, I was so excited. I think I spent a lot on that first 50 metres, so the last 50 I was tiring out, but I tried to hang on the best I could.
“I’m just so honoured to be able to win that many medals. I don’t think it has sunk in yet, but I’m just so happy with how this meet has gone.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)