Ken Hanson made history as he became Australia’s oldest Commonwealth Games gold medal winner on Thursday. But to do it, the 68-year-old had to produce the shot of his life.
The para lawn bowler, along with team-mates Josh Thornton and Tony Bonnell, were a shot behind New Zealand in the men’s B6/B7/B8 gold medal match at Broadbeach Bowls Club, with a single roll remaining.
Hanson stepped up and blasted away two Kiwi bowls from the jack, giving the Australians a last-gasp win with as near a perfect shot as he could have hoped for. He is the oldest Australian athlete at the Games and now the oldest ever gold medal winner. Dorothy Roche was 61 when she won gold in the lawn bowls at the 1990 Games.
“I admit I feel like I’m 78, but happy to be a gold medallist at any age,” Hanson said afterwards. “Although I carry a little weight, I keep myself fairly fit. I do a lot of walking. I consider myself fit enough to compete against these younger guys.
“It’s hard to describe my feelings. I have never been in this position before or never thought I would be, so I soaked it in, looked at my family and looked at the rest of my team-mates and enjoyed the experience.”
The Jackaroos’ dream run continued later when Australia defeated Scotland in the women’s triples gold medal match. Rebecca van Asch, Natasha Scott and Carla Krizanic each won their second gold of the Games, having already claimed victory as part of the women’s fours on Monday.
At Carrara Stadium, field events again brought Australia athletics success, with two more gold medals won.
Kurtis Marschall, 20, won the men’s pole vault with a clutch clearance at his final attempt to clear 5.70m. Marschall had been in a dead heat with Canadian Shawn Barber before his vault, which sent the home crowd into raptures.
In the discus, favourite Dani Stevens defended the title she won in Edinburgh four years ago, winning gold comfortably. Her 65.43m throw was well ahead of her nearest opponent.
A Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast wouldn’t be complete without Australian gold won on the iconic coast, and it was delivered in thrilling style by the men’s beach volleyball pair of Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann at Coolangatta beachfront.
McHugh and Schumann won a heart-stopping victory in three sets, taking the decider 18-16. At one point in the final set, their Canadian opponents, Samuel Pedlow and Sam Schachter, led 12-9 – a three-point lead and just three points from victory.
But the Australians, the pre-tournament favourites who had not dropped a set coming into the final, countered to take the match to sudden-death.
“You little beauty. So bloody proud,” McHugh said. “We didn’t start great [in the third set], we had to hang in there the true Aussie way. We got there, they cracked, we took the opportunity.
“It’s a really pinching yourself sort of moment to have a home crowd and win gold the first time volleyball has ever been at the Commonwealth Games. If you didn’t have goosebumps in the stadium during that match you probably weren’t alive.”
The women’s volleyball pairing of Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar fell just short in their final, also against Canadian opposition.