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Lashko wins first gold of Manchester Games

25 July 2002

Russian-born Irina Lashko has won the first gold medal of the 2002 Commonwealth Games for Australia.

Irina Lashko

Irina Lashko, winner of the first Commonwealth Games gold medal

Lashko, a 29-year-old mother who won the world title in 1998 when diving for Russia, emigrated to Australia later that year and took citizenship in 1999.

She scored 302.82 pts, taking the lead in the fourth of the five rounds and holding off the challenge of the reigning world champion, Blythe Hartley of Canada, who scored 287.04pts.

Lashko said: “It feels bloody great. I was pretty sure it was going to be a good fight between me and Blythe."

“I was determined to fight whether I had a bad foot or not. I tried not to think about it."

“Two days ago I hit the board between my toes. It’s not cut, but it hurts.”

Jane Smith, from the host nation, won the first medal for England by claiming bronze with 274.71pts.

“The atmosphere here is fabulous. I’m totally over the moon. I felt confident going in. I was a bit nervous, but that just gave me the extra adrenalin I needed." She said.

“I always wanted to come to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. I knew there would be a great atmosphere, and it hasn’t let me down.”

The women’s one-metre springboard was the first event of the Games to be determined, being staged just hours ahead of the Opening Ceremony at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Many of the competitors had expressed their wish to head straight over to the ceremony once their competition finished.

1 Irina Lashko (Aus) 302.82
2 Blythe Hartley (Can) 287.04
3 Jane Smith (Eng) 274.71
4 Rebecca Gilmore (Aus) 257.43
5 Emilie Heymans (Can) 256.83
6 Melanie Rinaldi (Can) 240.15

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