Above: Brad Mathas set a personal best finishing fifth in the 800m at Commonwealth Games. Photo by Alisha Lovrich / Temposhot.
It was a night of close finishes for two of the three Kiwis in action at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Brad Mathas finished strongly in the final of the 800m improving down the final straight to finish fifth in a personal best 1:46.07.
This betters his previous best recorded in the heats.
Mathas was at the back of the field over the first lap covered in 52.4, improved his place down the back straight and challenged hard down the stretch picking up a couple more placings.
Wycliffe Kinyamal of Kenya won in 1:45.11, from Kyle Langford of England 1:45.16 and Luke Mathews of Australia 1:45.60.
Mathas was on the whole satisfied with his Commonwealth Games debut.
“Obviously my goal coming into this race is to medal, I set high standards for myself. On paper I was ranked eighth, but I still whole heartedly believe in myself that I could get a medal, but I just fell short,” said Mathas.
“The first 200m was hot I knew they would get out pretty hard but I didn’t think it would be that hard, and I found myself last and I made sure I didn’t panic because I knew that last 100m that people were going to die.
“I managed to pick up a few people but two people not enough,” he said.
The seven times New Zealand champion said there was no shame in believing that he could medal.
“I’ve now just got to keep improving and I believe that I can do it,” he added.
Siositina Hakeai repeated her fourth placing four years ago in Glasgow after having the bronze medal snatched from her grasp in the final round in the discus throw.
The 24 year old from Auckland was out to 56.00m in the first round placing her third in the competition. Hakeai improved to 57.16m in round four and held third with this distance till the sixth round.
Navjeet Dhillon of India let fly with a 57.43m throw to grab third leaving Hakeai heart broken and in fourth.
Dani Stevens of Australia won with a Games record of 68.26m, breaking Kiwi Beatrice Faumuina’s record of 65.92m set in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Hakeai, four times New Zealand champion, who has a personal best of 60.54m said that these things happen.
“It wasn’t disappointing just heart breaking, She put up a good fight and things like this happen and there is nothing you can do, just go back home and try and bounce back stronger and better.
“If you had asked me ten to twelve weeks ago if I will be at the Comm Games I would have said you’re joking, you’re kidding yourself.”
She then acquired a new coach in Kirsten Hellier.
“The last ten weeks I’ve been with Kirsten and it has been really great and I’m here.
“I had to change a lot of things in a short period of time with the new coach, it wasn’t ideal, but hey we’re here. This has been my most consistent season, I got a PB and what more can you ask for. Unfortunately I didn’t do it tonight.”
Nick Southgate failed to achieve a height in the pole vault.
The 23 year old six times New Zealand champion bypassed the opening two heights in the competition of 4.80m and 5.00m opting to come in at 5.20m.
He missed at his three attempts a disappointment for him at his first major international competition. Southgate, who has a personal best of 5.47m, was over the bar on his last attempt but knocked the bar on his descent.
He has previously finished fourth at the World Youth Championships and ninth at the World University Games.
Southgate said the height wasn’t a problem it was the lack of consistency in his run-up.
“I opened at 5.20m, what I thought would be a pretty comfortable height and looking back maybe I should have started at 5m. It wasn’t the height that was a problem it was my inconsistency in the run up and just couldn’t get something going, if I’d had a jump in I knew get on a roll. It was just about getting that first one and unfortunately I didn’t do that.”
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent