Oscar strikes gold as Team England win six medals at Commonwealth Youth GamesAugust 7, 2023
Oscar Bilbao hailed a ‘big accomplishment’ after claiming Team England’s first gold of the Commonwealth Youth Games – one of six medals won during the first swimming final at Trinbago 2023.
Bilbao triumphed in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke after a strong final 50m saw him go from fourth to first.
He touched home in 2:15.57 – 0.46 clear of Wales’s Maxwell Anderson – following a pulsating race for the wall.
Bilbao said he trusted his race plan and was thrilled to have taken top spot in front of a raucous crowd after qualifying for the final in second place.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” said Bilbao.
“I’m really happy with the result considering, so far this summer, I’ve had previous meets which didn’t go my way and to finally get it at such a big meet for Team England feels really, really great.
“When I’m swimming my best, I’m holding off a little bit and I bring it at the back end.
“So, certainly at 100, I had people around me that were faster and I just had to stick to my game plan and make sure I’m not pushing out as I have that back end and I trusted my race and it worked out for me.
“It’s so fantastic – it’s such a great place to have it held as there are tonnes of fans all screaming and cheering.
“It’s great to be out here and especially with all these fans – it just adds to the atmosphere.”
Record-breaking Nick wins silver
Team England also won four silver medals and a bronze on the opening day of the swimming competition at the National Aquatic Centre in Trinidad.
After setting a Youth Games record in 24.32 in the 50m Butterfly heats, Nick Finch was denied gold by 0.03 seconds in the final.
He finished second in a time of 24.46 behind Scotland’s Dean Fearn to win Team England’s first medal of the Games.
Finch said: “It feels amazing.
“It’s my first ever international meet so I came here to have fun and take it all in and I’m really happy.
“I was striving for gold but I know my mistake and I know what I’m going to do for the next one.
“I’ve got to move onto the next one now but I’m really happy overall.”
Erin’s confidence boost
Erin Little said her silver medal in the Women’s 200m Freestyle had given her a confidence boost after an ‘up and down’ season.
The Mount Kelly swimmer clocked 2:01.58 to take second place – 1.22 behind Australia’s Inez Miller.
She was third going into the final 50m but dug deep to finish 0.15 seconds ahead of Australia’s Mikayla Bird.
Little’s time was 3.14 seconds faster than her heat swim and she said: “It was good.
“It was quite surprising but I’m really happy with that and I’m looking forward to the rest of the meet.
“The season has been up and down, mentally and physically, but after that it’s given me a bit of confidence.”
Sienna Robinson said she was happy to add to the medal table for Team England after winning silver in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke.
Robinson was leading at the 150m mark but was denied the top spot by Northern Ireland’s Elliot McCartney.
City of Sheffield’s Robinson was 0.87 seconds adrift of McCartney after clocking 2:31.61, which was more than a second quicker than her heat swim.
She said: “I’m really happy with the race and happy with the medal.
“Bringing the medal table up for England is nice.
“I felt a lot more controlled in the morning but I was happy with how I swam the race and it’s a chance to learn and a chance to get better.”
Reece’s PB seals second
Team England’s fourth silver was won by Reece Grady in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle.
He was involved in an epic battle for the gold with Wales’ Tyler Melbourne-Smith before being touched out for the top spot by 0.42 seconds.
Grady, who swims for Stockport Metro, finished in a personal best time of 15:31.22.
He said: “It was a PB so it was good.
“I knew the guy next to me would have a strong last 50 so I tried to stick with him the whole race and then it was a battle for the medals.
“I’m happy to have beaten the Australian [Tommy Lane] next to me as I saw him catching up.
“So I tried my hardest and I’m really happy to pull away in the last 50m and come away with the silver.”
Adam bags bronze
Millfield’s Adam Graham also set a new personal best on his way to a bronze medal in the Men’s 100m Backstroke final.
Graham clocked 56.39 to finish behind Scotland’s Matthew Ward (54.57) and Northern Ireland’s Brandon Biss.
“It was a tough swim but I was glad to get a PB,” said Graham.
“I would have loved to have got second but the team has been amazing – there is great team atmosphere with Team England but I’m glad I could perform and get a personal best.
“There is momentum we can take forward.
“It’s an amazing atmosphere that you only get on the international stage. I’ve got so much to learn and I’m enjoying every second of it.”
Six other finalists
Team England swimmers also claimed six other finals places.
Finishing just outside the medals in fourth place were Blythe Kinsman in the Women’s 100m Backstroke, Hannah Bowley in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke and Harry Wynne-Jones in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle.
Ashleigh Baillie took fifth in the Women’s 200m Freestyle, while Skye Carter was sixth in the Women’s 50m Butterfly – a position also held by Edward Marcel-Whittles in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke.
A total of 14 Team England swimmers are in action in the day two heats today with all the results available from the Trinbago 2023 website.