Commonwealth Games: Elijah Winnington Backs Up World Title With 400 Free Commonwealth Gold, Leads Australian Sweep

Elijah Winnington -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Commonwealth Games: Elijah Winnington Backs Up World Title With 400 Free Commonwealth Gold, Leads Australian 1-2-3

With a stunning final length, Elijah Winnington stole away the world title in the men’s 400 freestyle from Germany’s Lukas Martens. But this time, Winnington required no such heroics to secure gold in the first swimming final of the Commonwealth Games. With no other swimmers in the race who joined him in the final at the World Championships, Winnington could take some risks and push the pace without worry about fading. He could take a shot at the world record.

Winnington was already seven tenths up on the field after the first 50 meters, and he extended the lead from there. He moved ahead of Paul Biedermann’s world-record pace right away, and at the halfway point, he was more than a second-and-a-half ahead. But that world record came at the height of the supersuit era in 2009, and Biedermann actually negative split that race, so Winnington would have to be extremely aggressive and maintain that pace to have any shot. He was still under world-record pace and ahead of his own pace from Worlds through 300 meters, but with a lead of more than a second, he did not have another gear and fell off slightly at the end.

The 22-year-old Australian finished in 3:43.06, not close to the 3:41.22 he swam in Budapest last month to become the fifth-fastest performer in history, but he was two seconds clear of the field. Only Winnington and Martens (3:41.60) have posted quicker times this year.

And as the race sorted itself out behind Winnington, the Green and Gold finished with a signature moment to begin the Games. Sam Short finished second in 3:45.07 to earn a silver medal, and Mack Horton, the Olympic champion in the event from 2016, claimed bronze in 3:46.49. Horton held off Northern Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen on the final length, and Wiffen ended up fourth in 3:46.62.


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