Commonwealth Games: England grabs triathlon double, Farah out
GLASGOW: England swept the opening Commonwealth Games triathlon golds on Thursday as the showpiece event was rocked by the shock withdrawal of athletics legend Mo Farah.
Alistair Brownlee trumped younger brother Jonathan to win the men’s triathlon, capping a great day for the English team after Jodie Stimpson earlier took gold in the women’s event.
The two races took place in sweltering conditions, air temperatures peaking at 28 degrees celsius (82F), with the water a balmy 22C, meaning the triathletes didn’t even have to wear the ever-cumbersome wetsuits for their swim.
Alistair Brownlee, the reigning Olympic champion, made his move halfway through the 10km run after working together with his brother in the opening 1.5km swim and secondary 40km cycle around Strathclyde Loch.
“It was tough from start to finish. It’s fantastic to be Commonwealth and Olympic champion. That was my goal for the season. I have done everything I wanted to do now — I may as well retire!,” said Alistair Brownlee.
Alistair built up a 13-sec lead as the bell went for the final lap of the 10km run, South African Richard Murray holding his nerve to seal bronze at 1:12.
Stimpson, a silver medal winner in the World Triathlon Series in 2013, sprinted clear with 400 meters remaining of the final 10km run to win a thrilling women’s race.
Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland claimed silver, with England’s Vicky Holland taking bronze in warm, sunny conditions.
Action got underway also in the pool where top home hope for a gold medal, Michael Jamieson was upstaged by countryman Ross Murdoch in qualifying for the 200 meters breaststroke final.
Murdoch smashed the Commonwealth Games record by over two seconds in a time of 2mins 08.78secs with Jamieson and Calum Tait completing an all-Scottish top three in qualifying.
Scotland’s Hannah Miley also had the home crowd in raptures in the first heat of the event by breaking her own Commonwealth record in the women’s 400m individual medley in a time of 4mins 38.27 secs.
Commonwealth Games record times were tumbling all morning at the Tollcross International Swimming Center as Jamaica’s Ali Atkinson went fastest in the women’s 50m breaststroke in a Games record time of 30.49secs.
The immediacy of the action took some of the sting out of Farah’s withdrawal, which rocked the Games just as they got underway.
The 5,000 and 10,000 meters Olympic champion, 31, was recently laid low by illness and has decided to pull out of the Games in order to work on his fitness ahead of next month’s European Championships in Zurich.
“I have taken the tough decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games,” Farah said in a
statement released by Team England.
“I really wanted to add the Commonwealth titles to my Olympic and World Championships, but the event is coming a few weeks too soon for me as my body is telling me it’s not ready to race yet.” In total, 21 golds will be won on Thursday.
As well as four in the pool, there were four up for grabs on the first day of track cycling at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome with Bradley Wiggins, returning to track cycling for the first time since 2008, helped inspire England to the final of the men’s 4000m Team Pursuit.
England will battle it out with fierce rivals Australia, who set the fastest time in qualifying, for the chance to claim gold.
Wiggins, competing in his first Commonwealth Games since Manchester 2002, is looking for his first ever gold medal at the Games to go with his Tour de France and four Olympic titles.
Canada and New Zealand will face up to each other in the bronze medal event.
England’s Jason Kenny, the current Olympic sprint champion, scraped into the quarter-finals of the men’s sprint after claiming a place through a first round repechage along with compatriot Matthew Crampton.
They will join New Zealand trio Sam Webster, Matthew Archibald and Eddie Dawkins, Australians Matthew Glaetzer and Peter Lewis and Malaysian Mohd Awang in Friday’s quarterfinals.
English rider Philip Hindes, who was part of the Great Britain team that claimed team sprint gold in London 2012, failed to qualify after finishing last in his first round repechage.
Indian lifters were expected to be at the forefront on the first day’s action in the weightlifting.
There are also five titles to be decided in judo and one in rhythmic gymnastics while preliminaries begin in field hockey, lawn bowls, netball, squash, table tennis and badminton.