Alice Tai is already a Paralympic, World and European relay champion – now adding Commonwealth Games individual gold medallist to her growing list of titles.
Tai demonstrated on the Gold Coast exactly why she is one of the best in the business by taking the women’s S9 100m backstroke crown – the home nations’ success continuing just minutes later as Lewis White won silver in the men’s S9 100m freestyle.
Already the world record holder in the event, Tai was widely tipped as the favourite to top the podium but the 19-year-old had not yet won a global individual title, with her previous golds all coming in the relay events.
Tai manaed to change this at the Optus Aquatic Centre though as she touched the wall first in 1:08.77 to take gold ahead of Australian duo Ellie Cole and Ashleigh McConnell, while Scotland’s Toni Shaw was fifth in 1:16.79.
The medal was England’s 100th Commonwealth Games swimming gold, an honour Tai was pleasantly surprised to take.
“I’m so proud and shocked and it wouldn’t have happened unless all my team-mates had been swimming so well,” she said.
“The whole team is buzzing off the back of our success, winning four golds on the first day.
“It’s just a crazy feeling to be coming away with a gold medal. The weather conditions were pretty crazy, I’ve wanted to train in the rain since we got here and then it started chucking it down before the race. It’s pretty cool to be the 100th gold medallist, I had no idea and no-one will be able to take it away from me.”
British record for White
With two para-swimming golds on the first day courtesy of Ellie Robinson and Thomas Hamer, White continued the medal rush with silver shortly after Tai’s exploits.
The 17-year-old qualified second fastest for the final in a new British record 56.83 and pushed it to another level in the final, lowering the mark to 56.77.
That was only bettered by Australia’s Timothy Disken, with fellow home favourite Brenden Hall completing the podium in third.
Northern Ireland’s Barry McClements was seventh with fellow Englishman Jacob Leach eighth.
White said: “I can’t complain about two British records in the same day and I’m delighted with the silver.
“I wasn’t in the right place before Christmas but my coach has worked so hard with me to get me into shape and preparations have been great.
“It was a shame to tire up near the finish because it could have been gold but that’s a lesson for another day.”
Swimming, cycling and triathlon in store
Saturday’s action sees both swimming and track cycling for the para-athletes, while triathlon gets its moment in the spotlight for the para-athletes for the first time at a Commonwealth Games.
It’s there where the action begins, at 00:31 UK time with Joe Townsend, Mark Conway and David Kerr in the men’s event while the women’s will see Jade Jones, Lizzie Tench and Karen Darke all in action.
Then comes a return to the pool for Jacob Leach, in the SB8 100m breaststroke, with Toni Shaw and Beth Johnston competing in the SM10 200m individual medley.
It’s back on the boards for the home nations too with Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott – world record breakers and Commonwealth gold medallists – competing in the B&Vi 1000m TT
And there’s another opportunity to see Scotland’s Neil Fachie in action, as he prepares to race in the B&Vi sprint alongside pilot Matt Rotherham.