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17 Aug 2022 17:30
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  •   Home > News > International

    Rose-gold Aussies revel in bronze as wrestler Jayden Lawrence fights for his sport's survival in the Commonwealth Games

    Lawrence fought on 'one and a half legs' to finish third at Birmingham, but his sport could be the thing on its last legs in Birmingham 2022.

    The Boomers made bronze fashionable at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with their historic medal dubbed "rose gold" in the men's basketball.

    And at the Commonwealth Games, the rose gold glow is real.

    By Australian standards, it has been a long wait for a wrestling medal of any colour – 12 years.

    Jayden Lawrence had been to two previous Games and missed a bronze medal in Glasgow 2014.

    He earned another shot at bronze, this time against South Africa's Edward Lessing, in the men's freestyle 86kg, and he won a tight match 12-11.

    "Unbelievable, honestly. I'm stoked," he said.

    "This is what Australian wrestling has been after those two previous we didn't medal at all in the Games.

    "But I guarantee you, we're gonna get more this time around. I guarantee it."

    Lawrence suffered a torn lateral cruciate ligament in his last match, "so last two wrestles I was battling [on] one and a half legs," he said.

    The 27-year-old from Sydney collapsed on his back and put his hands over his face as he soaked in the moment at the end of the clash.

    "I've given up a lot to do this sport, but it's so worth it," he said.

    "We don't get paid too much; I get nothing. But I'll do it again."

    At this stage, wrestling is not on the program for the Victoria 2026 Games, and Lawrence hopes his success will force a re-think.

    "Hopefully this brings us over the line and we get the wrestling back."

    Bronze for new diving duo

    At the diving, Sam Fricker was buzzing after claiming bronze with Li Shixin in the men's synchronised 3m springboard.

    "I'm so excited, it was a dream to make the Commonwealth Games to walk away with a medal is just incredible," Fricker said.

    The 20-year-old Fricker and 34-year-old former Chinese world champion Li — who has been competing for Australia since 2019 — were competing together internationally for the first time.

    "This is the beginning. Sammy is young," Li said.

    "We have a long, long time. He's Diving Australia's future. I just help him get better."

    Li was recruited to Australia as a diving coach in 2014 – he earned citizenship in 2019, and came out of retirement to compete at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

    Fricker said he was honoured to compete with his legendary teammate, and used some advice from one of the team veterans, Melissa Wu, to remain composed.

    "You've just got to be in the moment," he said.

    "When you're at breakfast, have breakfast, when you're on the bus, enjoy the ride.

    "When you have that one dive to do, that's all you focus on, and that's all you have control over. So whether we're first or last, that's what we try and do with that one moment."

    England's Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher won gold, while the Australians finished just 2.25 points the Malaysian silver medallists Gabriel Daim and Muhammad Syafiq Bin Puteh.

    Australia picked up a couple more diving medals at Sandwell Aquatics Centre, with Brittany O'Brien claiming silver in the 1m springboard, behind Canada's Mia Vallee.

    And Dom Bedgood and Cassiel Rousseau got bronze in the men's 10-metre synchro, with gold going to England, and silver to Canada.

    [ABC sport newsletter]


    © 2022 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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