Hannah Martin

BACKING UP: England’s Hannah Martin, left, about to score a goal in their shoot-out win against New Zealand in a women’s semi-final match at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday. --Photo: AP

England beat New Zealand in a shoot-out to stay on course for a first women’s hockey Commonwealth Games Gold in Birmingham.

Isabelle Petter and Hannah Martin scored in the shoot-out as goalkeeper Maddie Hinch refused to be beaten with a series of brilliant saves.

The two sides could not be separated in 60 minutes, playing out a goalless draw just like they had done in the bronze-medal match in Australia four years ago. On that occasion, New Zealand won the shoot-out to progress to the gold medal match, and the Black Sticks also got the better of England in the World Cup last month with a 3-1 victory.

Asked about penalties, Hinch added: “I absolutely love them. As goalies, a lot of the time you’re picking the ball out of the net, it’s pretty unforgiving. These are the moments to really showcase the position, and I’m trying to inspire as many people as possible to wear these weird-looking outfits and be the hero for a few minutes.”

Ekimova wins hosts’ first-ever rhythmic gymnastics gold

Marfa Ekimova won England’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics as she clinched the all-around title at Arena Birmingham. The 17-year-old top-scored on hoop and clubs to total 112.300, narrowly ahead of silver medallist Anna Sokolova of Cyprus.

It was Ekimova’s second medal of the Birmingham Games after teaming up with Saffron Severn and Alice Leaper to win a team bronze medal on the opening day of competition on Thursday. That bronze had represented England’s first rhythmic gymnastics medal since they also won a team bronze at the Delhi Games in 2010.

Ekimova said: “It’s amazing and a dream come true. It was a roaring crowd and everything a gymnast could ever have wished for. I love to perform and for people to enjoy my performance and my passion, it means everything.”

Ekimova has more chances to add to her medal tally today having qualified for all but one of the individual apparatus finals in hoop, ball and ribbon.

Laugher claims second gold

Jack Laugher was full of praise after he sealed his second gold medal of the Games, winning the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard event alongside partner Anthony Harding. They topped the leaderboard in the event with 438.33, winning by 61.56 points.

Laugher came into the competition with plenty of experience, having won it in Glasgow 2014 and the Gold Coast 2018 alongside partner Chris Mears. He also won gold in Thursday’s one-metre individual springboard event and has a chance to add a third in today’s three-metre individual springboard.

The overall gold medal race tightened when leaders Australia added a number of minor medals on Day 8 but failed to win a gold. The Aussies have 50 gold and 140 medals in total, while England (47 gold, 131 overall) now sit just three gold medals behind with three competition days remaining.

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