Lewis Clareburt wins rare swimming gold for NZ at 2022 Commonwealth Games

Lewis Clareburt wins rare swimming gold for NZ at 2022 Commonwealth Games

So much for being a weak chest.

Record holder Lewis Clareburt won the men’s 400m individual Medley at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday morning (New Zealand time), beating Australian Brendon Smith and Scotsman Duncan Scott in a new game record of 4:08.70.

In a tight contest, Clareburt led but established the winning lead in the third leg of the 100m medley with a shot that has always – until now – been his weakest.

Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand after winning the gold medal.

Aijaz Rahi/AP

Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand after winning the gold medal.

“It’s strange to think how far you’ve come,” Clareburt said delightedly after his victory.

“I’ve been working a lot on it, and never really made a move, until the last few weeks.

“I was talking to [coach] Gary [Hollywood] before that, and he was ‘well, this move is one of his main moves right now’ after seeing some of the times we’ve been doing it.

“It’s nice to know that what we’re doing is working and it worked at the right time – everything fell into place at once.”

Because of this, Clareburt became only the third non-Paralympic swimmer from New Zealand to claim first place on the podium this century, and obliterated the Commonwealth Games record in the process with his time of 4:08.70 nearly three seconds faster than the best. previous brand.

Brendon Smith from Australia, Lewis Clareburt from New Zealand and Duncan Scott from Scotland pose with their medals after the men's 400m IM.

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Brendon Smith from Australia, Lewis Clareburt from New Zealand and Duncan Scott from Scotland pose with their medals after the men’s 400m IM.

Moss Burmester won gold in the men’s 200m butterfly in Melbourne in 2006, while Lauren Boyle triumphed in the women’s 400m freestyle eight years ago in Glasgow.

Previously, Cameron Gray won an astonishing bronze for New Zealand in the men’s 50m butterfly final – a result that Clareburt said inspired him.

The 18-year-old Aucklander was seventh fastest but made his way through track one to finish third behind England’s Benjamin Proud and Singapore’s Tzen Wei Teong with 23.27 seconds – 0.01sec. ahead of Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago.

Cameron Gray of New Zealand displays his bronze medal from the men's 50 meter butterfly final during the Commonwealth Games at the Sandwell Aquatics Center in Birmingham.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Cameron Gray of New Zealand displays his bronze medal from the men’s 50 meter butterfly final during the Commonwealth Games at the Sandwell Aquatics Center in Birmingham.

Gray said he had to take his glasses off to make sure the score was really saying he had won bronze.

Clareburt was top in the morning semifinals, 0.60s faster than Smith.

The Wellingtonian is considered a potential gold medalist since his bronze in the same event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. He was the third 2019 world champion in South Korea, becoming the fifth New Zealander to win a medal at the world championships and the first man to do so since Danyon Loader in 1994.

He was disappointed by his seventh-place finish at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, when he was runner-up to the finals, but struggled to sleep before the finals, with heats held at night and finals the next morning.

Clareburt headed to the Games after an internship in Spain in a confident and strong manner despite suffering from Covid-19 in the run-up to the world championships in Hungary last month.

He finished fourth in the final of his 400IM specialist event with a time of 4:10.98, and while he was 6.70 seconds behind winner Léon Marchand, the Frenchman nearly broke Michael Phelps’ world record, set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

New Zealand were looking for their fourth medal in the pool shortly after Clareburt’s victory, but 100m backstroke Andrew Jeffcoat finished fourth after the 23-year-old was third-fastest in a packed field.

The New Zealand swim team in Birmingham opened their medal count on day one with a gold for Dame Sophie Pascoe in the women’s S9 100m freestyle and silver for fellow para-swimmer Jesse Reynolds in the men’s S9 100m backstroke.

Australian Katja Dedekind set the Sandwell Aquatics Center ablaze with a world record victory in the women’s 50m freestyle final in 26.56s.

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