Nathan Maguire has had to live in the shadow of girlfriend Hannah Cockroft but he roared into the spotlight to claim the first individual gold medal of his career.
The wheelchair racer produced a blistering finish in the 1500m T53/54 race at Birmingham 2022, overhauling compatriot Dan Sidbury to take a dramatic victory.
That matched Hurricane Hannah’s efforts on the opening night of athletics at the Commonwealth Games.
And while emulating Cockroft’s seven Paralympic titles will take some doing, Maguire enjoyed the opportunity to add some hardware of his own to the trophy cabinet.
The 25-year-old from Salford said: “The medal tally is very much in (Hannah’s) favour so this gold will go very nicely towards my side of the tally.
“This is the biggest crowd I have ever raced in front of and to do it at home, my family are in the crowd, about 30 people in the crowd are watching me. It’s great that I can share my first gold medal on my own with my family and my friends.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Later in the evening, Preston’s Naomi Metzger claimed the first international medal of her career as she produced the four longest jumps of her career to take bronze in the triple jump.
A leap of 14.32m with her very first attempt gave Metzger a dream start, and she increased that by five centimetres on her third.
That was enough to take bronze, with Metzger in dreamland.
She said: “It feels like I’m dreaming. It’s basically been the perfect day, I’ve jumped a few PBs and come away with a medal at my home Games. It has been fabulous.
“It’s just proved to me I should keep going. There are times it gets so difficult you just want to stop, you wonder ‘what’s the point’. But when you have moments like this, you understand why people stay in the game so long. I’m ecstatic.”
Earlier in the day, Abigail Irozuru held her nerve to book a place in the final of the women’s long jump.
The 32-year-old, who came out of retirement in 2018, overstepped on her first two jumps, leaving her with no margin for error on her last attempt.
And after a nervous wait to see if her final leap was valid, Irozuru let out a roar of emotion at securing a place in Sunday’s final with a jump of 6.59m.
She said: “I’m feeling really relieved. I left it too close for comfort. I was contemplating many life decisions in that moment, why am I putting myself through this? I don’t think I’ve ever done that so that was a lot of pressure but I’m so thankful to finish this competition, the qualifying round in the final and with a big season’s best after an unexpectedly not so wonderful season. I’m thankful it’s rounded up like this.”
Finally, Aimee Pratt missed out on a medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, coming home in fourth with a time of 9:27.41, with Kenya’s Jackline Chepkoech taking victory ahead of England’s Lizzie Bird.
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