The sheer power the 20-year-old possesses has been well-known for years, but his breakthrough was delayed by few competitions during Covid and frustrating injuries. In Birmingham, he took his opportunity spectacularly. Not only did he become the first men’s gymnast to win four gold medals: all-around, team, vault and floor, but he did so with some truly world-class gymnastics. His vaulting in particular is already some of the best in the world and his floor is not far behind. This is only the beginning, and it will be fascinating to see how far he can go.
Day after day, the crowds packed out Birmingham’s Smithfield venue not for athletics, swimming or any other core Commonwealth Games sport, but for beach volleyball, a minority sport among minority sports in Great Britain. Throughout this period, the athletic, dynamic style of the 22-year-old twins, Joaquin and Javier Bello, who were born in Madrid before moving to London as children, has been one of the most joyful sights of the Games. They topped off an incredible tournament by winning bronze while also moving closer to their goal of bringing beach volleyball to as many people as possible in Great Britain. It has been a good start.
Orie has spoken in depth about his admiration of Anthony Joshua, and as he has become the top super-heavyweight in the Team GB squad, the comparisons have naturally followed. On Sunday night he lived up to the hype, taking a stellar gold medal by outsmarting and overpowering Sagar Ahlawat of India in the super-heavyweight division. Orie was born in Moscow to a Nigerian father and Russian mother before moving to Birmingham in his youth, in part due to the racism he continually faced there. He has now triumphed in his hometown, but even greater stages, from the World Championships to the Olympics are surely next on his radar.
Scotland’s McColgan and Irene Cheptai of Kenya emerged for the final straight of the women’s 10,000m final with their legs kicking, faces grimacing, pushing themselves to the limit. As the crowd roared her on, it was McColgan who found the extra gear to soar past her rival and carry on to win her first major title. Her success is even more meaningful for the efforts it has taken McColgan to get here. She has been a constant presence in the sport and in her four Commonwealth Games she has attempted four events: 1500m, 5,000m, 10,000m and the steeplechase. She finally found the right distance and time to thrive. Four days later, she returned to win a silver medal in the 5,000m.
Having dominated the preliminary round of the 10m platform competition and then led after the first nine dives of the final, she stepped up for the final dive of her first Commonwealth Games with all the pressure on her shoulders to confirm her superiority. No matter, she threw down an extremely complex dive, a back 2 1/2 somersaults dive with 1 1/2 twists in pike position, and she utterly nailed it. She received 9.0s across the board, winning gold at just 17 . In 2020, Spendolini-Sirieix was named as a young sports personality of the year, and she had been on the way for some time. She has arrived.
England dominated the artistic gymnastics competitions as expected, but as rhythmic gymnasts arrived to occupy the same arena, a new star emerged. Ekimova, 17, became the first English gymnast to ever win an all-around gold medal in the rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games, winning with a score of 112.300. “It’s amazing and a dream come true. It was a roaring crowd and everything a gymnast could ever have wished for,” she said. She will now aim to fight among the very best by qualifying for the Paris Olympics.