Could Shanks have started the gold rush?

By Kevin Norquay

Richard Patterson finished with a silver in the 85kg weightlifting event. Photo / Getty Images
Richard Patterson finished with a silver in the 85kg weightlifting event. Photo / Getty Images

After four days of hapless prospecting, New Zealand finally struck gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, with lyrca-clad cyclist Alison Shanks the one to stake the claim.

As well as winning the first gold, Shanks seemed to signal the end of a medal drought with her win, as New Zealand went from 10 medals in four days to 19 in five.

Commonwealth Games medal table

Dunedin cyclist Shanks stood tallest, winning the women's 3000m individual pursuit in emphatic style, finally bagging the top podium step that had eluded the track cycling team.

For others at the cycling track, the pool, the athletics stadium, and weightlifting arena the top of the podium proved a step too far, with six silvers and two bronzes rounding out a haul which lifted the Games tally to one gold, 13 silver and five bronze.

If one silver was more stirring than the others, it had to be that of 1500m runner Nickki Hamblin, who ran a brave and near-perfect race for silver, giving so much to the cause that she was sick at the finish.

And if there was one place to be if black was your colour of choice, it was the pool where the excitement compounded as wave after wave of black-capped New Zealanders matched Hamblin.

It was a special night with Hayley Palmer, Glenn Snyders and Daniel Bell winning medals in three of the first four finals featuring a New Zealander.

Snyders won silver in the 50m breaststroke, Bell stormed the last 50m for silver in the men's 100m backstroke, and Palmer picked up a bronze in the 50m freestyle.

And you just knew it was a special day when in the last race of the session there was bronze for the women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay squad - gift wrapped by the Canadian quartet who finished third, then were disqualified for breaking.

"I feel for Canada but the same thing has happened to us in the past, and we'll take the medal any way we can get it," Palmer said, pocketing her second medal of the day.

Weightlifter Richard Patterson could have done with Palmer's lucky charm.

Leading after the snatch, he seemed to have one hand on the 85kg gold medal, with the bar under his chin and just a few centimetres to lift it, when his right knee let him down. The knee crumbled, the weights went down, and silver was his lot.

Patterson departed head in hands, wearing a look of utter exasperation.

Exasperation was also the mood for gymnasts Patrick Peng and Mark Holyoake, who both finished fourth - Peng on the vault, and Holyoake on the parallel bars.

While Snyders spent the least time winning his silver - 27.76 seconds in the cool of the pool - decathlete Brent Newdick had to labour for two days in the sweltering heat for his.

Newdick dashed, jumped and threw his way into position through nine events, and once he'd done all that, he still had to run 1500m to cap it off.

While Newdick puts his feet up and takes a well earned rest, others who saw action today will try to turn the efforts of Shanks into a gold rush.

Foremost are the netballers, who predictably beat South Africa, power hitting boxer Joseph Parker, and a women's hockey team that today emphatically dealt to England.

Kiwi medals on day five:

Alison Shanks - individual pursuit

Glenn Snyders - 50m breaststroke
Daniel Bell - 100m backstroke
Brent Newdick - decathlon
Men's cycling sprint team (Edward Darwkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster)
Nickki Hamblin - 1500m
Richard Patterson - weightlifting 85kg

Hayley Palmer -50m freestyle
Women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay team

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