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Commonwealth Games 2018: Willmott upsets odds for swimming gold

PUBLISHED: 14:30 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:30 05 April 2018

England's Aimee Willmott with her gold medal from the women's 400m individual medley at the Optus Aquatic Centre during day one of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia (pic Danny Lawson/PA)

England's Aimee Willmott with her gold medal from the women's 400m individual medley at the Optus Aquatic Centre during day one of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia (pic Danny Lawson/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Former UEL student Aimee Willmott was one of two English underdogs with Scottish ties to shock favourites from Scotland and take Commonwealth Games gold on Thursday.

Willmott, based in Stirling, claimed the women’s 400metres individual medley gold ahead of Hannah Miley, who was denied a third straight title in the event.

And James Wilby, born in Glasgow, came from behind to win the men’s 200m breaststroke ahead of Ross Murdoch, the champion four years ago.

Willmott finished in 4:34.90 as Miley, who won gold at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014, finished 0.26secs behind.

The 25-year-old from Middlesbrough credited her win to a move from London for Stirling.

Willmott said: “I finish second pretty much every time, and I have raced against Hannah so many times and last time (at Glasgow 2014) I was second.

“I knew this time I could have it in me if I just swam the race a little bit better.

“It was just believing in myself. Since moving to Stirling, (coach) Steve Tigg has been reinforcing that and it’s been so nice to move there and get the enjoyment back.”

Miley said: “I gave it my all and I was so close to winning.

“It’s my third games on the podium in the same event at the age of 28, there are not many my age still swimming the 400 IM.”

Murdoch was the underdog behind Glasgow 2014 poster boy Michael Jamieson, upsetting the odds, but was on the receiving end this time.

Wilby surged down the final 25m to overhaul the Scot and claim gold in two minutes 08.05 seconds. Murdoch was 0.27secs behind to finish with silver.

Loughborough-based Wilby called his mum immediately after the win. She was watching at the Gold Coast Aquatics Centre.

“I felt it was right to speak to her as soon as I could,” said Wilby.

“I just wanted to make sure it was worth the trip out to Australia. I’m sure she’s happy with that.”

Wilby was in tears after failing to qualify from the heats at last year’s World Championships in Budapest and he showed little emotion after his victory.

“I was just soaking it all in. This is just all relief,” he added.

“This year I got really mean with myself and thought ‘right, I’ve got to start making a move and put everything right’.”

Murdoch rued his final length, describing it as “dire”, but insisted he could not be too disappointed.

“I was dying there in that last 25,” he added.

“I’ve not lost a title at all. There was nothing to defend, I had nothing to lose and I went in there and got a silver medal. I had everything to gain.”

James Guy finished with bronze as Australia’s Mack Horton won the men’s 400m freestyle.

It was Bath-based Guy’s final international 400m freestyle event, as he will now reduce his programme.

Guy was sick following the effort, but is confident for the remaining six events here.

“My main goal for 400 was to try to sneak a medal and that’s what I’ve done. I got a cheeky bronze,” Guy said.

There was another bronze for England, as Siobhan O’Connor, Freya Anderson, Anna Hopkin and Ellie Faulkner claimed women’s 4x100m freestyle relay bronze behind Australia, who set a world record of 3:30.05.

Glasgow 2014 winner and world champion Ben Proud was disqualified from the 50m butterfly heats for a false start on Thursday morning. An appeal was unsuccessful.

Paralympic champion Ellie Robinson won the women’s S7 50m butterfly and Tom Hamer won the men’s S14 200m freestyle.

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