Australia has served up a decathlon double and another bronze at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as decathletes Daniel Golubovic and Cedric Dubler took silver and bronze as wheelchair racer Samuel Carter picked up bronze in the 1500m T53/54.

Producing world-class results in ten events across two days is a mammoth task in itself.

But when you’re asked to back those performances up a mere 10 days later, one can only marvel at the results of Australian decathletes Dan Golubovic and Cedric Dubler who have claimed silver and bronze respectively in Birmingham.

Golubovic scored a season’s best 8197 points as Dubler finished with 8030 points. Games debutant Alec Diamond finished in 5th place with 7689 points as gold medallist Lindon Victor of Grenada defended his Gold Coast 2018 title with 8233 points.

Letting the moment sink in after the final 1500m, the two all-rounders were elated, relieved, and — to borrow an Australian colloquialism — understandably buggered.

Both Golubovic and Dubler completed the two-day program at the recent world championships in Eugene, finishing 14th and 8th respectively. In most circumstances, decathletes will rest for months before resetting their bodies and tackling the multi-event challenge again – this time, they had less than two weeks. In the post-event interview, they called the feat ‘the 10-10-10 challenge’ (10 events, 10 days rest, 10 events).

In the field of eight, Golubovic produced leading marks in the shot put and discus before closing out his campaign with a dominant win in the 1500m. Dubler took out the high jump, the 400m, the 110m hurdles, and the pole vault.

Entering the final event in second place with Golubovic in third, the pair put it all on the line to score every point possible after a grueling two days in Perry Park.

Golubovic, a dual US citizen, was born in Los Angeles, raised in the US before jetting back to Brisbane in 2019. Working full-time as a pricing analyst at Shell Energy, he rises at 5:30 am each morning to train mostly by himself.

Realising the gravity of his achievement Golubovic was his animated self in the post-event mix zone.

“It’s been a long time in the process,” he said.

“I had two decathlons earlier in the season that I didn’t even finish, I had an injured knee for one of them and in the second I had COVID two weeks before.”

“We didn’t even know if we were going to be qualified or selected for this team but to come out and compete in world championships and back it up with an even better performance here in this incredible stadium with this incredible audience, oh my gosh it means so much.”

Dubler was equally proud of his efforts of the past month and quick to congratulate both Dan and Alec.

“I never expected in my decathlon career that I would back up in under four weeks so this was definitely an experience. All of today all of the fatigue set in… I was calling it event #15 to #20.”

“Everything just got harder and harder but I’m glad I did it. The atmosphere was incredible and it was awesome to be out there with two other Australians.”

“Dan’s been a really strong contender for a few years and it’s awesome to see him finally make it on the world stage. And I’m really glad that Alec got to come here and experience a world-level meet as well, he’s been steadily progressing over the last few years and I hope he can make more teams as well. That means we’ll have four decathletes in Australia scoring over 8000 points which is taking the event to a whole new level.”

On the eve of his 31st birthday, Sam Carter received an early birthday present in a shiny bronze medal, when completing his first international middle distance race in the Men’s 1500m T54.

Up against a slick field, Carter finished third in 3:12.82 behind England’s Nathan Maguire and Daniel Sidbury, but the triumph came as a surprise even to the Australian, who has traditionally competed in sprint events.

The Canberran turned his attention to the metric mile only after the Tokyo Paralympics, when realising the Commonwealth Games would be his only opportunity to compete internationally this year.

“This is my first major championships medal, so a really incredible milestone for me. I’m feeling really motivated and it’s only onwards and upwards from here,” Carter said.

“There’s two events in my classification here at the Commonwealth Games; the 1500m and the marathon. I’m not quite up to the marathon just yet being a sprinter, but I thought my fitness is decent so I should give it a shot.

“We don’t have a world championships this year so I thought I might as well see if I could get on the team and ended up enjoying the middle-distance work. I just seem fairly well suited to it.”

Fellow Australian and 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jake Lappin missed the podium by one position, finishing behind his training partner in 3:17.87.

Bookending the evening sessions were middle distance duo Amy Cashin and Brielle Erbacher, who on a bitterly cold night on the track, battled through the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase.

With a strong start, Cashin found herself at the front of the field in her first Commonwealth Games final, but at the 2000m mark, began to slowly pull back finishing in fifth place in a time of 9:35.60.

Erbacher crossed the line last but her time of 10:59.64 is not reflective of the gutsy effort she gave after two brutal falls over the barriers at the 2000m. Winning the hearts of Birmingham, the Queenslander completed the last third of the race by stopping before each hurdle and climbing over them.

“I was not going to not finish, as hard as it was. It would be weirder to pull out, it’s easier to finish and get to the line rather than falling off to the side,” she said.

Australia’s undeniable depth in the women’s 1500m came to the fore during the morning session, with all three representatives advancing to the final.

In the first of two heats, Tokyo 2020 finalist Linden Hall and Commonwealth Games debutant Abbey Caldwell toed the line but it was the 21-year-old Caldwell who made her presence known in the final 100m, finishing second in 4:13.59. Hall took charge mid-race before easing up over the line to also automatically qualify for the final in fourth place with 4:14.08.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games is Caldwell’s first major championship at a senior level, and her race today gave Australian athletics fans a taste of what’s to come.

“It’s been so much fun and surreal. Some of these girls are so quick, you just can’t leave it up to chance this year. You’ve got to back yourself and be confident in your abilities,” Caldwell said.

“It made me a bit more hungry and eager to get the best out of myself now. We have a strong 1500m team in Australia, it’s unbelievable. We need to work together and thrive off each other in the races.”

“I said I wanted to come in as a competitor rather than just being at my first major so I’ve just got to see how this final plays out.”

In the second heat, Australian record holder Jessica Hull found herself in the leading pack and raced smartly to ensure she reserves her place on the starting line of the final. Hull crossed the line in fourth place at 4:16.13 – where one second is all that separated the leading seven finishers.

While all three women will have eyes for the podium, a tough field is awaiting them in the final, with great Scottish hope Laura Muir and world championship finalist from Kenya, Winny Chebet, also contesting the three and three-quarter lap race.

Following on from her narrow miss of the podium in Eugene, world lead Brooke Buschkuehl has opened her Commonwealth Games long jump campaign in brilliant fashion, leaping a windy 6.84m (+2.5) to secure herself a spot in the final in just two jumps.

One of just five athletes to have leapt past the 6.75m automatic qualifying mark, the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist will be eyeing off gold in Birmingham but knows there is much work to do if she wants a place on the podium.

“I’m honestly looking forward to the final, Buschkuehl said.

“It’s going to take some really big jumps to be on the podium. It’s super competitive here in the Commonwealth so I’ll be trying my best out there.”

“I’m actually more nervous for the Commonwealth Games final (than World Championships). So many Aussies really get around us athletes. It’s an amazing atmosphere and I don’t feel like I’ve ever experienced a crowd this incredible for a long time, or ever, really. It’s making me really excited for Sunday.”

Samantha Dale too has progressed to the long jump final after a best jump of 6.35m (2.0) saw her finish the qualifying round in 12th place. While it was her second jump that landed the 21-year-old in the final, it was not without an appeal after technical officials had called a foul on her furthest jump.

The nation’s fastest woman Ella Connolly is the first Australian in 20 years to qualify for a Commonwealth Games 200m final after storming home in second place in her semi-final. Connolly crossed the line in 23.41 (0.0) behind Namibia’s Christine Mboma’s 22.93-second run.

The 22-year-old Queenslander was thrilled to get the Big Q, stating she had achieved her Commonwealth Games goal by achieving the automatic qualifier.

“I knew the qualifier was Top-2 so I had to run hard out there. The girls I was up against have a really good back half so I knew I had to nail that first 100m,” Connolly said.

“The aim was to make the final. I’m super happy I have and now I just have to look ahead and execute it, knowing my hard work has paid off.”

Although marginally faster around the bend clocking 23.40 (+1.9), Connolly’s teammate Jacinta Beecher has not progressed to the final, placing fourth in her heat which was won by Nigerian Favour Ofili in 22.66.

Steve Solomon has proven he has successfully bounced back from arduous injury, nabbing the final spot in the 400m final this Sunday by just 0.03 seconds. With only two athletes per semi-final automatically progressing, the six-time Australian champion faced a nervous wait after crossing the line fourth in 46.30.

While the Sydneysider admits the race was far from his best, the qualifier was a personal victory for Solomon, who had assumed he had missed out on a finals berth after a rough six months of injury.

“I came into this championships unprepared because of injury,” the 29-year-old said.

“The thing that you have to do is deal with that in your mind and executing is hard when it’s in your mind. I’m really happy that I executed the race,” Solomon said.

“It was the last 80m that let me down. That’s fitness in the legs, the running in the legs, weeks and months of training. I’m not there at the moment but I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a very long time and I am happy and confident that I know what to do moving forward.”

Australia’s two representatives in the women’s 100m hurdles are also bound for the medal round, with Michelle Jenneke and Celeste Mucci showing career-best form in their respective heats.

Jenneke ran the fastest time of her life in all conditions, stopping the clock at 12.63 (+2.5) – the second-quickest time overall, behind only world record holder Tobi Amusan of Nigeria.

Having placed fourth at the Gold Coast edition of the Games, Jenneke admits she would like a higher placing by at least one but has acknowledged the incredible depth of the event within the Commonwealth.

“It’s a very strong field here,” Jenneke said after the event.

“On the start list there were five of the eight who were in the world championships final, so it’s a very strong field. I don’t know if I’ll be quite good enough to medal, but hopefully, I can run a personal best and see where that puts me.”

Former heptathlete Mucci was the first to run her semi-final and was forced to wait after finishing third in an equal personal best time of 12.96 (+2.0). Mucci filled the last spot available in the final and will be looking for another personal best on Sunday morning.

By Sascha Ryner and Jake Stevens for Commonwealth Games Australia Posted: 5/8/2022

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