Lizzie Simmonds’s catalogue of near misses was swelled even further at the Commonwealth Games last night.
The 23-year-old from Beverley, who came fifth in the 100m backstroke final at the start of the Games and fourth in the Olympic 200m final in 2012, came home just outside the medals again last night in the Commonwealth 200m final.
The Bath ITC swimmer, who lost her funding in the winter after struggling to regain her motivation and form after London 2012, had worked hard to battle back to the standard of major international competition.
As creditable as her return to form has been, it was no’t enough to warrant a medal as her frustrating habit continued at the Tolcross Swimming Centre.
Simmonds said: “I wanted to be in the medals. I am not going to lie, I should have been there. I am quite upset about it.
“Fourth is a horrible place to be. I’m coming fourth too many times but I’ve made progress from last year, even though it’s difficult not to come away with a medal.
“It was always going to be tough but I’m gutted not to get a medal.
“I’m a lot more happy with my programme on paper and we can sit down this summer and discuss moving forward.”
Simmonds was a silver medallist in the 200m backstroke in Delhi four years ago, a career-high summer in which she also won gold at the European Championships’ 200m final, and silver in the 100m.
Middlesbrough’s Aimee Willmott, a silver medallist in the 400m individual medley on Thursday night, could not back that up over half the distance last night.
She finished fourth with Hannah Miley, her conqueror over 400 metres, grabbing bronze behind England’s runaway winner Siobhan Marie O’Connor.
The 18-year-old, who had already won three silvers and bronze, broke a Games record with a time of 2:08.21, more than two seconds ahead of Australia’s Alicia Coutts. O’Connor claimed her fifth medal of the Games – and her first gold – while Fran Halsall later set a new Games record as she took gold in the 50m butterfly final.
Scotland were also savouring success as 13-year-old Erraid Davies claimed bronze.
Davies, Scotland’s youngest-ever Comonwealth Games competitor, was roared into the medal positions in the para-sport 100m breaststroke SB9 final.
Davies later took a standing ovation in her stride following the medal ceremony but she had earlier shunned the limelight among her friends.
“They didn’t know before I came here, I didn’t really know how to tell them,” she said.
When asked what she felt she could achieve in her sport, she said: “I don’t know. I am just going to keep on swimming and see where it gets me.”
And the host nation almost saved the best until last when their men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team pushed hot favourites Australia all the way before claiming a silver amid deafening cheers. That Scotland team had been helped into the final by Scarborough’s Gareth Mills, who swims for City of Sheffield.
Two of his team-mates at Ponds Forge, Nick Grainger of Rotherham and Lewis Coleman were in the England team that finished fourth.
England also had a bronze to celebrate last night as world-record holder Liam Tancock finished behind Australian pair Ben Treffers and Mitch Larkin in the 50m backstroke.
Sheffield’s Sophie Taylor – who finished fourth in the 50m breaststroke but failed to reach the final of the 200m – is back to something like the promise she has shown over the last 12 months by winning her semi-final of the 100m race last night.
British champion over all three distances, the 18-year-old City of Leeds swimmer, who also cites City of Sheffield, Doncaster Dartes and the Harrogate club as being crucial in her development, has the chance to finish her individual programme with a medal this evening.
On Saturday, fearless Adam Peaty took on his idol, Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh, and beat him to land the Commonwealth 100 metres breaststroke title.
The 19-year-old produced a storming last 25m, reeling the South African world-record holder Van der Burgh in the closing stages to touch in a Games record of 58.94 seconds, with home favourite Ross Murdoch taking the bronze. The Uttoxeter swimmer trailed Van der Burgh by 0.70secs at the turn, but had timed his race to perfection as he stormed past the South African to win by 0.34s, becoming the first Briton to go under 59 seconds in the process.
Rotherham’s Joe Roebuck missed out on a place in the 100m butterfly final.