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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 08:52 GMT
Cooke retains 800m freestyle gold
England's Rebecca Cooke
Cooke was unstoppable in the 800m freestyle
England's Rebecca Cooke retained her Commonwealth 800m freestyle title with a magnificent swim in Melbourne.

Cooke clinched the gold medal in a time of eight minutes 29.50 seconds as she held off the late surge of Australia's Melissa Gorman, who crossed in 8:30.79.

Canada's Brittany Reimer took the bronze medal just ahead of the brave assault of England's Keri-Anne Payne.

Earlier, Australia's Jessicah Schipper took her first gold medal of the Games as she won the 100m butterfly title.

Cooke's experience told as she gradually extended her advantage through the second half of the 800m with Gorman being inspired by her home crowd.

The Crawley-born swimmer, who also won the 400m freestyle title in Manchester four years ago, was tiring in the latter stages but just touched ahead of her nearest rival.

"I knew it would be close but I managed to keep my composure ," Cooke said.

"I'm quite emotional and it feels even better than winning last time - I'm just so happy."

Cooke's victory prevented another clean sweep in the pool by the dominant Australian team.

I'm quite emotional and it feels even better than winning last time
Rebecca Cooke

Earlier, the hosts scored a one-two in the 100m butterfly final when Schipper clocked a new championship record of 57.48sec.

Team-mate Libby Lenton, bidding for her third gold of the meet, was pushed into second, 0.32sec back.

"I always wanted to be one of the Madam Butterflys, so I think I'm doing all right at claiming that title," Schipper said.

"Hopefully, I can back up for a good 200m on the last day."

Canada's Audrey Lacroix claimed the bronze medal while England's Terri Dunning was fifth in 59.34 and Wales' Jemma Lowe seventh.

Scottish pair Kirsty Balfour and Kerry Buchan qualified for the 100m breaststroke final and will be joined by England's Kate Haywood.

But Leisel Jones looked in ominous form as she stormed home in a Games record time of 1:07:33

Her fellow Australians Jade Edmistone and Tarnee White were hot on her heels giving the hosts hope of another 1-2-3.

England's Katy Sexton edged into Monday's 50m backstroke final, coming home fourth in a time of 30.12sec.

But Australia's Giaan Rooney looks favourite for the title after breaking the Commonwealth record with a time of 28.42 to win the other semi-final.

Northern Ireland's Melanie Nocher and Isle of Man's Emily-Claire Crockall-Nixon also went through.



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Highlights: Cooke retains 800m title




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