2018 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
- Thursday, April 5th – Tuesday, April 10th (swimming)
- Optus Aquatic Centre, Gold Coast, Australia
- Prelims at 10:30am local (8:30pm previous night EDT)
- Finals at 7:30pm local (5:30am EDT)
- Official Commonwealth Games website
The Commonwealth Games will feature a dozen para-events with a pretty good – if small – field of some of the world’s top Paralympians. Here’s a look at the events included on the entry lists:
- Women’s S8 50 free
- Women’s S9 100 free
- Women’s S9 100 back
- Women’s SB9 100 breast
- Women’s S7 50 fly
- Women’s SM10 200 IM
- Men’s S7 50 free
- Men’s S9 100 free
- Men’s S14 200 free
- Men’s S9 100 back
- Men’s SB8 100 breast
- Men’s SM8 200 IM
Rio silver medalist Lakeisha Patterson is the odds-on favorite in the women’s 50 free S8. She’s got the world’s top time after Rio gold medalist and Aussie teammate Maddison Elliott was reclassified to S9 last year. Patterson is about eight tenths off of Elliott’s world record in that event. Patterson will also swim the 100 free, though that’s technically an S9 event. She’s the world record-holder for S8 and one of three S8s swimming that race on the Gold Coast.
In that S9 100 free, Ellie Cole should be the early frontrunner. The Australian was the bronze medalist in Rio and is the current world leader by more than a second.
Perhaps the race of the meet will be in the S9 100 back, where Cole will take on Great Britain’s Alice Tai, competing for England at Commonwealths. Cole won the 2016 Paralympic gold with a 1:09.18, but Tai has since surged onto the scene, breaking the world record with a 1:07.66 in 2017. Neither has been better than 1:09.4 this season, but if both are on their game, it could be an extremely hard-fought battle for gold.
Another defending Paralympic champ is New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe in the SM10 200 IM. Pascoe blew out the Rio field with a 2:24.90 that still holds up as the world record. Pascoe doesn’t have a time appearing on the IPC World Rankings list for this event, but no other swimmer has been under 2:31, meaning Pascoe should be the heavy favorite.
The S7 50 fly will see a rematch of now-reclassified rivals. England’s Eleanor Robinson won the Rio gold in the S6 class in this event, beating Australian youngster Tiffany Thomas Kane, who finished in bronze. But Kane has been bumped up to the S7 level while Robinson remains at S6. Both are entered in the event, which is technically listed as S7. Robinson is the only S6 entered, next to three S7s. Both other entrants were S7 A finalists in Rio: Canada’s Sarah Mehain and Tess Routliffe. Robinson had the fastest time of the bunch in Rio (35.58), but Mehain (36.46) and Kane (36.81) weren’t far behind. Robinson has this year’s fastest time as well.
The SB9 100 breast doesn’t feature any SB9 Rio Olympic medalists, but does have Canada’s Katarina Roxon, who won the SB8 class in Rio. She’s the only SB8 entered. The six SB9s are led by Rio A finalists Paige Leonhardt and Madeline Scott of Australia. Leonhardt has the top time in the world ranks (excluding a pair of Dutch swimmers who won’t be at Commonwealths) with Scott sitting second.
Also keep an eye on Sophie Pascoe, who was the 2008 Paralympic champ and 2012 Paralympic silver medalist in this event but didn’t swim it in Rio.