Sport: Aussies are the table-toppers yet again

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Measured in medals, it's middling.

Oliver Hoare's 1500m gold was one of the most memorable of Australia's 178-medal haul at Birmingham. © Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS Oliver Hoare's 1500m gold was one of the most memorable of Australia's 178-medal haul at Birmingham.

But that isn't clouding Australia's view from the top of the Commonwealth Games tree.

"It has been an outstanding Games for Australia," chef de mission Petria Thomas said.

"Here in England, we knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"But the team has performed extremely well."

Australia's reputation as the Commonwealth's sporting superpower has been retained.

Australia departs Birmingham with 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze medals.

In the 20 editions of the Games, Australia has topped the medal tally a dozen times.

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But history will record Australia's Birmingham campaign as middle of the road.

Australians have harvested more gold - and more overall medals - at six other editions of the Games.

The 1994 Games in Victoria, Canada, remain Australia's best in terms of gold medals - 87. And overall, the 221 medals in 2006 in Melbourne remain the nation's benchmark.

But team chief Thomas cautioned against measuring Australia's Birmingham team purely on numbers.

"They have been great ambassadors for Australia," she said.

"Regardless of whether they won medals or not, we are just super-proud of everyone.

"The special part of it is, regardless of the outcome, it's the spirit with which they compete.

"They never give up. They compete as hard as they possibly can. And at the end of the day, that is all we can ever ask of them.

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"They conduct themselves in an exemplary way."

The wonder from Wollongong, Emma McKeon, was the unrivalled star of the Games.

The swimmer collected six golds, a silver and a bronze. If she was a country, she would have finished 14th on the medal table.

McKeon swam through uncharted waters, setting historic high-water marks.

She now has 20 medals in her glittering Commonwealth career, more than any other athlete. And 14 are gold. Again, more than anyone.

Her half-dozen golds in Birmingham equals the record for the most at at a single Games shared by fellow swim greats Susie O'Neill (1998) and Ian Thorpe (2002).

And her tally of eight medals also equals O'Neill's 1998 benchmark for the most medals at a single Games.

"I'm happy ... it's more than I could have expected," the understated McKeon said.

McKeon was the keystone of Australia's wildly successful swim team.

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Of 52 swimming golds on offer at the pool, Australians grabbed 25 of them, plus 21 silver and 19 bronze.

The Dolphins' Mollie O'Callaghan confirmed her status as the next big swim thing with five golds and two silvers, her teammates Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeon and Madi Wilson won four golds.

Kyle Chalmers blew up at media reporting of his supposed 'love triangle' with his ex-flame McKeon and her new beau, celebrity swimmer Cody Simpson.

But Chalmers still flew home with three gold medals, as did fellow Dolphins Elijah Winnington, Flynn Southam and Zac Incerti.

Australian swimmers broke two world records - para swimmer Katja Dedekind in the women's 50m freestyle S13 and Australia in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.

They were among four world records set in Birmingham.

Two Nigerian para athletes also created new marks - Goodness Nwachukwu in the women's discus F42 and powerlifter Folashade Oluwafemiayo.

Fresh Commonwealth Games records were also set in 96 events across all sports, including Australia's Oliver Hoare in his memorable triumph in the men's 1500m at the track.

Hoare joined the legendary Herb Elliott as the only Australians to win Commonwealth 1500m gold.

And he did it against a world-class field while his track and field teammate Kelsey Lee-Barber again evidenced her world class, clinching javelin gold on her last throw.

The gold to Lee-Barber, the two-time reigning world champion, was among 10 by Australians in track and field.

Australian cyclists won 11 golds on the road and at the track; divers captured four.

Golds came in 3x3 basketball, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, beach volleyball, cricket, cycling, hockey, judo, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens.

And in the 19 different sports, Australia medalled in all but two - badminton and squash.

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