Aussies, England begin Glasgow gold rush early at Commonwealth Games
GLASGOW, Scotland — No surprises so far at the Commonwealth Games: Traditional powers England and Australia dominated the first day of competition Thursday, and an Australian women’s relay team set a world record in the pool.
England picked up six gold medals — including both in triathlon — and Australia added five, including two in track cycling.
Australia’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay team eclipsed by nearly three-quarters of a second the mark held by the Netherlands from the 2009 Rome world titles.
Emma McKeon, a member of the relay team, won her second gold of the day — she earlier finished first in the 200 freestyle.
"I knew the Australian team could break it, but I wasn’t thinking when," McKeon said.
Scotland, buoyed by the home crowds, picked up four gold medals, including swimmer Hannah Miley in the 400 individual medley and Ross Murdoch in the 200 breaststroke.
India and Canada won two golds each.
Here are other highlights on Thursday:
MAGIC MEARES: Olympic champion Anna Meares of Australia won a record-equaling fifth gold in track cycling in the 500-meter time trial while her country’s pursuit team relegated Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins and the England men to silver. Meares equaled fellow Australian Bradley McGee’s record of five gold medals in track cycling, and made her the first athlete to win a medal in track cycling at four Commonwealth Games.
DOUBLE GOLD: In triathlon, brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were one-two in the men’s race, while Jodie Stimpson won the women’s. Stimpson hired a new coach — Australian Darren Smith — after she was left off the British team for the 2012 London Games. "I was devastated to miss a home Olympics," Stimpson said. "I changed coaches and it did wonders."
BACH IMPRESSED: Scotland has never hosted an Olympics, but IOC President Thomas Bach was impressed with what he saw in Glasgow. "It’s good to see already on the first day of competition you have a good crowd, and a good atmosphere, and the athletes are very happy," Bach told The Associated Press at the velodrome.
So how about a future bid for the Summer Olympics? It would require a far greater investment in facilities. But the IOC is already looking to give more flexibility to bid cities, allowing them to focus from the start on the long-term benefits the games can bring to the area and how the Olympics could fit into their development plans. "We are about to change the bidding procedure and the conditions for the games," Bach said. "You can see here excellent venues, and if Glasgow is taking this development even further then one day why not (an Olympics)?"
ROYALTY IN THE HOUSE: Field hockey players were surprised to see Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, show up to watch two morning matches. She greeted the Australian women after their 4-0 win over Malaysia, then watched England beat Wales 2-0. Wearing a bright green dress with blue detailing, the Queen, who officially opened the games on Wednesday, also met volunteer staff. Later, Australian player Jayde Taylor tweeted a photo of her and another player with the Queen in the background. "Ahhh The Queen photo-bombed our selfie!!" Taylor wrote. By late Thursday, the tweet and photo was retweeted more than 9,500 times and favored by 8,200 people, and counting.
GAZA PROTEST: A Malaysian cyclist risked disciplinary action by staging a Gaza protest on the track at the velodrome. Azizulhasni Awang raced in the men’s sprint wearing gloves with "Save" written across the knuckles of one hand and "Gaza" over the other. Awang’s fists featuring the message were held to cameras after the race, which took him through to the quarterfinals on Friday. But the Commonwealth Games Federation, which seeks to avoid its competitions being used as political platforms, told The Associated Press it will "contact the Malaysian chef de mission to discuss the incident and take any action." Palestinian officials say amost 800 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the conflict with Israel began on July 8.