Tennessee Commit Nikoli Blackman Strikes Commonwealth Youth Games Gold


  • Sunday, August 6th – Wednesday, August 9th (swimming)
  • National Aquatic Center, Couva, Trinidad & Tobago
  • LCM (50m)
  • Results

The 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games saw swimming action kick-off last night from the National Aquatic Center in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago.

71 nations and territories are participating in the multi-sport competition, with athletes aged 14-18 racing across four days in the pool.

Right off the bat, the host nation got on the board, courtesy of Nikoli Blackman. The University of Tennessee commit clocked a time of 1:49.94 to take the boys’ 200m freestyle, reaping the only time of the field under the 1:50 threshold.

Behind him was James Allison of the Cayman Islands who got to the wall over a second later in 1:50.96 while Australia’s Harvey Larke rounded out the top 3 in 1:51.64.

On his victory, 18-year-old Blackman said, “It’s amazing. I really hope that the other athletes can feel a stronger sense of wanting to win even more now, and bring home more medals for the country.

“It was great, because the last two 50m distances, I was getting tired, but the chants really helped me home for TT.” (Newsday)

The first Commonwealth Youth Games Record bit the dust in the girls’ 50m fly, with South Africa’s Jessica Thompson grabbing the gold.

16-year-old Thompson touched in a time of 26.84, a new meet record, with New Zealand’s Amelia Bray and Australia’s Mikayla Bird also landing on the podium. Bray hit 27.00 while Bird was a hair behind in 27.07.

Post-race, Thompson stated, “Swimming the final was all about winning a medal, finding the spot where I could break the record again, which I did. It was an extremely proud moment for me, my family and my country.” (Team SA)

Scotland saw two swimmers top the podium on night one, with Holly McGill taking the girls’ 100m backstroke while teammate Matthew Ward followed suit on the boys’ side.

McGill punched a result of 1:01.96 in the extremely tight battle to the wall which saw Australian Zoe Ammundsen touch only .02 later in 1:01.98 for silver. Bronze was claimed by Cayman Islands’ Jillian Crooks in a time of 1:02.10.

This is a solid result for winner McGill, whose stronger event is the 200m, the distance in which she took the European Junior Championships silver this year in Belgrade.

As for Ward, the Scot was the decisive victor, reaping gold in 54.57. The next-closest competitor was Northern Ireland’s Brandon Bliss who settled for silver in 56.29 while England’s Adam Graham bagged bronze in 56.39.

This gold continues Wards’ momentum from this year’s European Junior Championships where he earned bronze in both the 50m and 100m backstroke events.

Additional Winners:

  • Scotland’s Dean Fearn topped the boys’ 50m fly podium in 24.43, a personal best by .03.
  • Inez Miller of Australia was the quickest 200m freestyler on the girls’ side, logging 2:00.36 for the victory.
  • The girls’ 200m breast saw Northern Ireland’s Ellie McCartney get it done for gold in 2:30.74. McCartney was the bronze medalist in the 200m IM at this year’s European Junior Championships.
  • Oscar Bilbao was the 200m breast winner on the boys’ side, with the English athlete touching in 2:15.57.
  • Welsh swimmer Tyler Melbourne-Smith hit a time of 15:30.80 to win the boys’ 1500m freestyle. England’s Reece Grady was next in 15:31.20 while Aussie Tommy Lane rounded out the top 3 in the close race in 15:31.38.
Through one day of swimming competition, Scotland, England and Australia rank among the top 3 performing nations.
Swimming Medal Table Through Day 1 of CYG:

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Luke Cardy
11 months ago

Standard is very poor at this competition. The age range )13-18) makes average 18 year old competitors look like superstars!! Also, where are the big nations, Canada etc. it seems like a non-event to me.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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