University of Stirling swimmer Aimee Willmott landed England’s first gold medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games with a dramatic win in the 400m individual medley final.
The 25-year-old came from behind to pip Hannah Miley to the post – denying the Scot her third successive title – with a phenomenal performance at the Optus Aquatic Centre.
In further success for Stirling, Ross Murdoch scooped silver in the 200m breaststroke final, while former scholar Marc Austin took bronze in the triathlon.
Ross Murdoch took silver in the 200m breaststroke.
Willmott recorded a time of 4min 34.90sec with Miley, who won gold at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, finishing 0.26 behind. Bronze went to Australia’s Blair Evans (4:38.23).
The gold medal is Willmott’s first major title – after she took silvers in the 400m individual medley and 200m fly at her second Commonwealths in Glasgow.
Reflecting on her victory, Willmott, from Middlesbrough, said: “I tried to tactically swim it a lot better. In Glasgow, my downfall was that I tried to win it after 250 metres and I gave everything down the first length for the breaststroke and I literally had nothing in me for the last length. So it was a case of swimming controlled and really trying not to worry about what is going on.
University of Stirling swimmer Aimee Willmott won England's first gold of the Commonwealth Games. Credit: Team England.
“I could see Hannah out of the corner of my eye and just tried to keep relaxed on the breaststroke then save everything I had for that last 25 metres of the freestyle.
“I thought she was coming for me so I stuck my head down and my legs are so sore but it was totally worth it.”
Silver and bronze
Murdoch, who won gold in the 200m breaststroke at Glasgow 2014, looked on course to defend his title, however, Wilby stormed home on the last 50m to take top spot on the podium. Wilby touched in 2:08.05, just ahead of Murdoch in 2:08.32.
It came hours after triathlete Austin won Scotland’s first medal at the Gold Coast Games. The 24-year-old Glaswegian took an unexpected bronze in the event – describing the race as the “performance of his life”.
“Nothing comes close to this,” the self-coached athlete said. “I’ve had performances when I’ve delivered results but to come away with a medal is great. I’ve not medalled in two and a bit years.”
Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “Everybody here at the University of Stirling sends our congratulations to Aimee on winning her first Commonwealth Games gold.
“Aimee’s hard work here at the National Swimming Academy paid off as she swam an excellent race and, following a tense and dramatic finish, we were all delighted to see her emerge from the pool victorious.
“We are also really pleased for Ross on his silver and our former scholar Marc who put in a tremendous performance to finish third in the triathlon.”
“It has been a superb start for Stirling’s athletes and we wish them all well for the rest of the Games. We can’t wait to welcome them home with medals round their necks.”
The Commonwealth Games runs from April 4 to 15.