NORTH East duo Bradley Saunders and Simon Vallily will be among five English boxers going for gold in Delhi tomorrow.
Stockton’s Saunders and Vallily, from Middlesbrough, both came through their semi-final bouts in the Indian capital to earn a place in tomorrow’s light-welterweight and heavyweight deciders respectively.
And they will be joined in bidding for a top rostrum place by team-mates Tom Stalker, Callum Smith and Anthony Ogogo – who beat Indian favourite Vijender Singh – as all five of England’s last-four qualifiers triumphed on a superb day for Robert McCracken’s squad.
Saunders continued to advance without fanfare, easing to a victory over experienced Mauritius opponent Louis Colin, which was far more comfortable than the final 10-7 scoreline suggested.
Saunders admitted he took his foot off the gas after heading into the final round with a 9-2 lead, and once Colin had pulled back to 9-7.
The Teessider stepped up a gear and finished by dumping him on the canvas with a straight right.
In the final, Saunders will face home favourite Manoj Kumar, but after the disappointment of missing out in the Olympics in Beijing two years ago he insisted his eyes are fixed on gold.
“I was a young lad in Beijing and the occasion got to me with so many people watching and all those cameras. I’ve learned from it and I’m used to fighting on this kind of stage. I can’t wait to get a gold medal to take back home.” Vallily made it through to the final without throwing a punch in the semi after his Ghanaian opponent Awusone Yekeni withdrew with an arm injury.
Northern Ireland’s Steven Ward, who beat Scot Stephen Simmons 6-1, stands between the North East man and gold.
Ulster will also be represented by five men going for outright victory tomorrow after Eamonn O’Kane, Paddy Barnes, Paddy Gallagher, and Thomas McCarthy all made it through to their respective finals.
Scotland qualified two boxers – Josh Taylor and Callum Johnson – and Wales still have Sean McGoldrick in with a chance of taking the competition’s ultimate prize.
Meanwhile, Ogogo milked his moment as the most unpopular man in India, waving and blowing kisses at a furious crowd who had just witnessed his dramatic and controversial win over the man they call the ‘Indian David Beckham’.
The crowd at the Talkatora Stadium was in uproar as Singh was twice penalised two points for holding in the final minute of their contest, giving Ogogo victory by 4-3.
Singh’s second warning came with just 12 seconds left on the clock and with the Indian holding a 3-2 lead, leading to an immediate protest by the Indian Boxing Federation which was quickly thrown out by the Games jury.
While the boxers have gold in their sights, shooters Kay Copland and Jen McIntosh already have theirs in the bag. They gave Scotland a flying start to the day by winning the women’s 50m rifle prone pairs.
Copland and McIntosh tied scores with English pair Michelle Smith and Sharon Lee on 1,169 but took the gold on a higher x-ring count to claim Scotland’s fourth gold of the Games. England claimed their only gold at the end of day eight as Ellen Falkner and Amy Monkhouse won the women’s pairs beating Malaysia duo HJ Ismail Nor Hashimah and Khalid Zuraini 5-0.
England’s women’s hockey team lost 1-0 to Australia in the semi-finals. England dominated for much of the match but Madonna Blyth scored the decisive goal early in the second half.
England now face South Africa for the bronze medal after they lost 1-0 to New Zealand in the second semi-final.
Dan Caprice scored two tries as England hung on to stun Australia 21-19 in the Pool D decider on the opening day of the rugby sevens tournament.
The result puts England into a quarter-final tie against Group C runners-up Samoa, with Australia taking on Kenya.
England’s Steve Lewis and Max Eaves leapt to Commonwealth Games medals on a day of competition in Delhi marred by the positive drugs test of Nigeria’s Osayemi Oludamola.
The Commonwealth Games Federation announced Oludamola – who won women’s 100metres gold last Thursday – tested positive for a banned stimulant and will remain provisionally suspended until Wednesday morning when she will discover her fate.
When the sport resumed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, Lewis claimed silver and Eaves bronze in the men’s pole vault as Olympic and world champion Steve Hooker of Australia retained his Commonwealth crown.
Hooker successfully defended his Commonwealth crown with a best of 5.60m, winning on countback from Lewis, who cleared the same height.
Knowing the gold was secure after Lewis’ two failures at 5.50 and three at 5.70, Hooker raised the bar to 5.81 to attempt the Games record but pulled out.
Eaves recorded a personal best leap of 5.40, while Paul Walker of Wales (5.25) was fifth and Scotland’s Alasdair Strange (4.95) eighth, but Luke Cutts of England and Richard Hurren of Scotland failed to record a successful jump.
Earlier, Abi Oyepitan clocked 23.26 seconds in the women’s 200m to take silver behind Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands.
Mothersill clocked 22.89secs to win the final which was delayed from the previous night due to a protest which saw Elaine O’Neill of Wales come in for the disqualified Eleni Artymata of Cyprus.
Canada’s Adrienne Power took bronze, Joice Maduaka of England was fourth, Scotland’s Lee McConnell fifth and O’Neill eighth.
Chris Thompson was the best-placed of three Englishmen in the men’s 10,000m final as Uganda’s Moses Kipsoro claimed his second title of the Games following his 5,000m success.
India’s women claimed a discus clean sweep, with Krishna Poonia winning with a best throw of 61.51m.
Kenya secured the top three places in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, with Richard Mateelong winning in 8:16.39.
Stuart Stokes was fifth in 8:32.24 and his England team-mate Luke Gunn seventh in 8:40.44. In the women’s 800m Emma Jackson was fourth and her England team-mate Hannah England fifth as Kenya’s Nancy Langat added the title to her 1,500m crown.
And England’s quartet of Nick Leavey, David Hughes, Rick Yates and Graham Hedman advanced to the men’s 4x400m relay final.
Wales, without 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene after his withdrawal with a foot injury, also progressed.
The quartet of Rhys Williams, who won 400m hurdles bronze behind Greene, Chris Gowell, Gareth Warburton and Joe Thomas long strong in qualifying comfortably.
In the corresponding women’s event, Scotland’s team of Gemma Nicol, Kathryn Evans, Clair Gibson and Eilidh Child and England quartet Kelly Massey, Maduaka, Nadine Okyere and Victoria Barr progressed, but Northern Ireland missed out.
In the men’s 4x100m, England’s team of Ryan Scott, Leon Baptise, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis safely progressed.