A “wrecked” Dane Bird-Smith has admitted Sally Pearson’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games added pressure to perform before he won gold for Australia in the men’s 20-kilometre walk.
Bird-Smith was forced to fight for a thrilling win on the Currumbin beachfront course this morning, crossing the line only four seconds ahead of England’s Tom Bosworth following a titanic tussle.
His victory, which was followed by Jemima Montag winning gold for Australia after teammate Claire Tallent was disqualified late in the women’s event, was achieved in a Games record time of one hour, 19 minutes and 34 seconds.
It maintained Australia’s perfect record in the men’s 20km walk across the five occasions it has been contested.
Bird-Smith, as an Olympic bronze medallist in the event, was always among Australia’s key medal hopes on the Gold Coast but the pressure of expectation stepped up a gear when Pearson was forced to pull out of the Games because of injury.
The 25-year-old was overcome with relief to have captured the gold and he could not wait to celebrate with Pearson.