Games-Birmingham turns into the Summer Games as McIntosh takes spotlight

·3 min read
Commonwealth Games - Swimming

By Steve Keating

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - The curtain came down on a rousing Commonwealth Games swimming programme on Wednesday, a competition that Australia dominated from start-to-finish but may well be remembered as Canada's Summer Games.

Having brought their A Team of Olympic champions and world record holders to Birmingham, the Australians laid siege to the Sandwell Aquatic Centre and won nearly half (65) of the 156 total medals on offer, including 25 of the 52 golds.

But it is Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh who leaves having made the greatest impression. The 15-year-old's six medals, including two golds, against quality competition confirmed her status as swimming's next big thing.

Barring something unforeseen, by the time the Paris Olympics comes around in 2024, McIntosh will be talked about as being in the same class as established stars such as Australians Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus and American Katie Ledecky.

In two years she may even be the headliner in that elite group.

"The only pressure I feel is what I put on myself," said McIntosh. "The only thing that matters is my expectations."

Swimming provided a glimpse of what that future might look like on Wednesday in the 400 metre freestyle with world record holder Titmus and McIntosh going head-to-head for the final individual gold medal of the Games.

Titmus would come out on top leading from the gun and getting to the wall first in a Games record time of three minutes, 58.06 seconds, leaving McIntosh to take silver and Kiah Melverton the bronze.

The win capped a productive Games for 21-year-old Australian Titmus, who will return home with four gold medals, including individual titles in the 200, 400 and 800m freestyle.

"I'm happy to get the job done. She (McIntosh) pushed me the whole way, I knew she would be there," said Titmus. "I'm not really one of those youngsters that's up and coming anymore, they're chasing me but I'm excited for that.

"I felt... people are expecting me to win."

McIntosh's star has been on a meteoric rise since she first made Canada's Tokyo Olympic team as a 14-year-old.

There were no podiums in Japan but she has been piling up medals ever since.

Canada won a best-ever 11 medals at June's world championships in Budapest, McIntosh figured in four of them, two individual gold, a silver and bronze.

There was more treasure for her in Birmingham again as she scooped a pair of individual titles along with three silvers and a bronze.

While the Commonwealth Games have been a hit locally with packed venues and a city wide buzz, many of the competitions have lacked quality and marquee names.

That was not the case in the pool that had a little bit of everything from a world record (women's 4x200m freestyle relay) to an Australian swimming 'love triangle' that kept the British tabloids busy.

Emma McKeon, winner of seven medals at the Tokyo Olympics, pocketed eight in Birmingham making the Commonwealth Games most successful athlete ever with 20 total medals including 14 golds.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Birmingham. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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