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As it happened: Commens, Perkins lay down marker after breaking droughts

Life’s a beach for Australia’s in-form volleyball pairings

Good signs for the host nation on the Bondi sands. Pauline Manser and Tania Gooley have earned themselves a shot at world No.1s Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede from Brazil after an easy day (15-3) at the office against the French duo of Cecile Rigaux and Annabelle Prawerman.

It was an equally good outing for Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook, who brushed aside Chinese rookies Zi Xiong and Rong Chi 15-2. Their quarter-final opponents come from Italy in the shape of Laura Bruschini and Annamaria Solazzi.

Boomers rebound with an upset win over Russia

It’s been a tough week for the Boomers but they have found some form to get past the Russians 75-71 and take some heat off coach Barry Barnes. The Dome was rocking after a win that keeps their medal hopes alive as they prepare to meet Spain in the final pool match.

It was their first win in six goes against Russia this year, with Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal adding 15 points each and big man Mark Bradtke a powerhouse inside. Victory over Spain would help the Boomers avoid the USA in the quarters, which would be useful.

GOLD at the cycling for Australia!

It’s Australia’s first men’s cycling gold for 16 years and it has arrived courtesy of Scott McGrory and Brett Aitken in the madison. The duo finished with 26 points in the dramatic 60km race, four clear of silver medal winners Belgium.

This was one of the greatest performances in Australian cycling history. Kathy Watt won gold eight years ago in Barcelona but it was the first time Advance Australia Fair was heard at a men’s event in the velodrome since Los Angeles 1984.

It was also one heavy with emotion. McGrory’s win comes after the death of his 11-week old son, Alexander, earlier in the year from a heart condition. So laden with grief was he that he immediately dismissed the Olympics. Now, he has triumphed in a fine dedication to his little man.

There was more success at the Dunc Grey Velodrome, with Gary Neiwand taking silver in the men’s keirin, pipped late by Frenchman Florian Rousseau.

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Perkins fires a shot ahead of 1500m showdown

The great one, Kieren Perkins, has put the writing on the wall in the heats of the 1500m freestyle. Shooting for an historic third gold in this event, Perkins secured lane four in the final with a swim that showed he’s in the kind of form not seen since Atlanta four years ago.

The Queenslander broke 15 minutes in his heat for the first time since Atlanta. If that doesn’t tell you he’s here to win, nothing will. His younger rival Grant Hackett, chasing his first Olympic gold, will swim from lane three.

Hackett has looked a little off his game at this meet but he’s not above a little bit of reverse psychology, quickly declaring Perkins the new favourite in the final.

“He’s gone under 15 minutes for the first time in a while,” Hackett said. “Right now, he’s the favourite and he’s the one to beat.”

We shall see. A nation will stop and watch as one.

Read the Best Games Ever series here.

How the Herald reported Kieren Perkins' red-hot 1500m heat on September 22, 2000.

How the Herald reported Kieren Perkins’ red-hot 1500m heat on September 22, 2000.Credit:SMH

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