Canadian swimmer wins Commonwealth gold

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:30 PM ET

Ryan Cochrane went into the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi with the high expectation of winning multiple gold medals weighing heavily on his shoulders.

Clearly, the pressure of turning in one of Canada's memorable performances in the pool at this year's Games hasn't affected the lanky 21-year-old swimmer from Victoria, B.C.

Cochrane won Canada's first medal of the Delhi Games Monday, the first day of competition, winning gold in the 400-metre freestyle at the SPM Swimming Pool Complex. He was the first Canadian in 72 years to win the 400m event at the Commonwealth Games.

"It's great to get the competition off this way," Cochrane said in a statement. "I didn't feel as good as I wanted, but at this time of year it's all about the racing. The 400 is one of those events where I'm still learning.

"Each time I swim it, it's different."

Cochrane, a bronze medallist in the 1,500m at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and one of Canada's rising pool stars, could add at least one more gold before the Commonwealth Games wrap up Oct. 14. The 1,500m is his signature event, making him the clear-cut favourite, but the 800m is not on the Delhi Games calendar.

Cochrane won the 400m in three minutes and 48.48 seconds, edging Australian Ryan Napoleon. David Carry of Scotland was third.

Canadian swimmers won two bronze to up the day's medal haul to four.

Julia Wilkinson of Stratford, Ont., swam to a bronze in the women's 200m individual medley and Stefan Hirniak of Victoria was third in the men's 200m butterfly. It was the first medal from an international meet for Wilkinson and Hirniak.

Wilkinson finished in 2:12.09, behind a pair of Australians -- winner Alicia Coutts and silver medallist Emily Seebohm. Erica Morningstar of Calgary was seventh.

"My swim in the preliminaries was awful and I knew I had to do better," Wilkinson said. "I decided in the final to just do what I do best and that's race. I tried not to think about the outcome and raced as if I was 12 years old again."

Even though Hirniak lowered his Canadian record in the 200 fly to 1:57.01 in the preliminaries, he couldn't beat winner Chad Le Clos of South Africa or runner-up Michael Rock of England in the final.

In other Canadian swimming results, Geneviève Saumur of Montreal was fourth in the women's 200m freestyle, missing a berth on the podium by 0.03 seconds, while Barbara Jardin of Montreal was eighth.

In men's team gymnastics, the Canadian team of Tariq Dowers of Mississauga, Ian Galvan of Calgary, Anderson Loran of Saskatoon, Jason Scott of Richmond, B.C., and Robert Watson of Port Coquitlam, B.C., won the bronze medal behind Australia and England. All team members qualified for individual apparatus finals later this week.

"It felt amazing, I never doubted it," Scott said. "I talked to my family on the phone (Monday) morning. They said good luck, and I said I would bring home a medal."

The Canadian women's field hockey team opened the Games with a 3-2 loss to Malaysia. After falling behind 3-0, Canada made it close when Diana Roemer of Vancouver and Anna Kozniuk of North Vancouver scored second-half goals.

Next up for Canada is a meeting with England on Wednesday.

In squash, Alana Miller of Winnipeg, Stephanie Edmison of Toronto and Shawn DeLierre of Brossard, Que., moved on to the round of 16.

Miller had a first-round bye then beat Anwesha Reddy of India 11-3, 11-6, 11-7 to advance. Miller, 30, recently announced she would retire after the Games.

Edmison had a pair of wins, beating Nathalie Dodd of Guernsey 11-1, 11-1, 11-5 in the first round and upsetting 14th seed Dipika Pallikal of India 11-2, 11-7, 12-10 in the second.

DeLierre strung together two wins, beating Henry Birch of Guernsey 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 and Michael Kawooya of Uganda 11-5, 11-7, 11-7.

A number of Canadians were eliminated.

Samantha Cornett, 19, of Ottawa lost her opening match to Alison Waters of England; an injury forced Canadian champion Miranda Ranieri of Waterloo, Ont., to withdraw during her match with sixth-seeded Kasey Brown of Australia; Robin Clarke of Toronto lost to sixth-seeded Azlan Iskander of Malaysia in the second round; and Andrew McDougall of Calgary was knocked out by fifth-seeded David Palmer of Australia.


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