Superhero Larkin takes down swim legend Thorpe

WITH his glasses, mild manners and speeding bullet backstroke, Mitch Larkin often gets called the Superman of the pool.

In the 2018 Commonwealth Games Larkin has taken down an even bigger superhero of the swim world - Ian Thorpe.

Amid hot competition in a team with medals falling out of their pockets, Larkin presented himself as the star of the Aussie Dolphins on the Gold Coast by winning a remarkable five gold medals from five events.

 

Mitch Larkin, Kyle Chalmers, Grant Irvine and Jake Packard of Australia during the medal ceremony
Mitch Larkin, Kyle Chalmers, Grant Irvine and Jake Packard of Australia during the medal ceremony

 

After clean-sweeping the backstroke events - 50m, 100 and 200m - Larkin proved he's no one-stroke pony by winning the 200m individual medley as well, and then capping it off with a fifth gold in the 4x100m medley relay last night.

Yet another grandstand finish from Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers won the gold (his fourth) and sealed the meet with one last roar.

The great Thorpe snared one more medal than Larkin when he won six Commonwealth golds in Manchester in 2002 but the 24-year-old did something on the Gold Coast even the Thorpedo could not by winning four individual events.

Gold medalist Mitch Larkin of Australia during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final
Gold medalist Mitch Larkin of Australia during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final

"You enter any event wearing the green and gold and you want to do your country proud," Larkin said.

Larkin's partner Emily Seebohm finished the meet on a high and with some records, too, by winning the 50m backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay. Her career haul of 15 Commonwealth Games medals equalled Susie O'Neill's record.

She could thank Bronte Campbell for making the last one a gold after overhauling Canadian Taylor Ruck to secure that gold medal in the 4x100m medley relay.

Just as she'd done a night earlier against big sister Cate, Bronte had the crowd on her feet by mowing Ruck down over the last 25 metres.

Emily Seebohm of Australia celebrates victory in the Women's 50m Backstroke Final
Emily Seebohm of Australia celebrates victory in the Women's 50m Backstroke Final

A pre-Games lunch with Lawrie Lawrence helped laconic Jack McLaughlin steel himself and win the 1500m ahead of Mack Horton. He led from wire to wire in 30-lap lungbuster.

But for all Larkin's feats and the overall tonnage of gold captured on the Gold Coast, there's every chance we will remember the 2018 Games as the moment we first clocked the superstar status of 17-year-old Ariarne Titmus.

Just as we recall the career-launching meets of then-teenagers Hayley Lewis in 1990 and Ian Thorpe in 1998, Titmus arrived on the Gold Coast with huge expectations and the year 12 student aced her exams.

Titmus showed imperious form to take gold in the 400m freestyle, adding to her 800m gold from a night earlier, relay gold and a heart-stopping 200m silver.

Ariarne Titmus of Australia after swimming in the Womens 400m Freestyle Final
Ariarne Titmus of Australia after swimming in the Womens 400m Freestyle Final

Titmus threw down times that even American great Katie Ledecky won't be able to ignore. Her 400m time of 4.00:93 was the sixth fastest ever, and only three seconds behind Ledecky's world record set in Rio in 2016. Even Ledecky hadn't swum that fast at the same age.

Put Ledecky v Titmus at the Pan Pacs in August in your diary.

So ended a dominant meet for Australia in the pool, where the Aussie swimmers significantly upped their medal haul from Glasgow.

The final count was 28 gold, 21 silver and 24 bronze medals, for a total of 73 in the pool.

The tactical decision to hold trials just a month out from the Games was a big success, according Australia's head coach Jaco Verhaeren.

Swimmers posting personal bests or season-best times between trials and the Games had jumped to over 60 per cent on the Gold Coast after a poor conversion rate of around 30 per cent in Rio.

Australia's (gold) Bronte Campbell Emily Seebohm, Georgia Bohl and Emma Mckeon pose with their medals
Australia's (gold) Bronte Campbell Emily Seebohm, Georgia Bohl and Emma Mckeon pose with their medals

Over at the track, day two of action saw a brave farewell and several breakout performances by Aussie athletes.

Kurt Fearnley powered his way around the track for a final time, fourteen long years after he first won a Paralympic gold medal in Athens in 2004.

Fearnley, who'll finish up with the marathon on Sunday, snared a gallant silver in the T4 1500m and the appreciative crowd gave him a wonderful ovation.

Fearnley is captain of the Australians athletics team, after co-captain Sally Pearson withdrew before the Games, and the fact no-one bats an eyelid to that says everything about how much the Newcastle athlete has done to bring para-athletes into mainstream sport.

Asked about his legacy post-race, Fearnley gave a typically classy response.

"The fans have been fantastic," Fearnley said.

"The way they have embraced all the para events, the way they have been - I have been put in this amazing privilege that I am grateful for."

Kurt Fearnley of Australia smiles after being presented the silver medal
Kurt Fearnley of Australia smiles after being presented the silver medal

If Malcolm Turnbull loses too many more Newspolls (and not knowing the words to Johnny Farnham's "You're the Voice" at the swimming won't help), we could do worse than Kurt Fearnley.

Emily Seebohm and Mitch Larkin followed up with gold in the 50m backstroke and the 200 IM respectively.

Over on the track para athlete Madison Rozario dominated to win the 1500m.

Earlier, Cameron Meyer delivered Australian cycling its 11th gold medal of the Games with a devastating win in the men's 38.5km time trial today.

The 30-year-old was one of the last riders to start and destroyed the field in a race where lady luck cruelled the hopes of teammate Callum Scotson.

On the track longjumper Henry Frayne smashed his personal best to break the Games record in qualifying while the swimmers continued their hot form in the heats at the pool.



Caberet about gin heads to Gympie Civic Centre

premium_icon Caberet about gin heads to Gympie Civic Centre

Tapas and drinks will be available from the bar

Where and when to watch Gympie sporting action this weekend

Where and when to watch Gympie sporting action this weekend

We've been blessed with a huge helping of local sporting action.