Commonwealth Games: English triathlete Stimpson wins first gold of games

England's Jodie Stimpson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's Triathlon during the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Strathclyde Country Park near Glasgow, Scotland on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
England's Jodie Stimpson celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women's Triathlon during the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Strathclyde Country Park near Glasgow, Scotland on July 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

GLASGOW (AFP) - England's Jodie Stimpson won the opening gold of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Thursday on a day when the multi-sport event was hit by the withdrawal of athletics legend Mo Farah.

Stimpson, a silver medal winner in the World Triathlon Series in 2013, sprinted clear with 400m remaining of the final 10km run to win a thrilling race that started with a 1.5km swim in and a 40km cycle around Strathclyde Loch.

Canada's Kirsten Sweetland claimed silver, with England's Vicky Holland taking bronze in warm, sunny conditions.

"I was nervous about the swim but I had an awesome swim actually," said Stimpson. "The race was brutal and the bike was definitely a challenge. It was important to be aware and sensible.

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 200m breaststroke final.

Murdoch smashed the Commonwealth Games record by over two seconds in a time of 2min 8.78sec with Jamieson and Calum Tait completing an all-Scottish top three in qualifying.

"Watching the crowd go wild and I just wanted that for myself and we did it, so it is something that I'll remember for the rest of my life," said the 20-year-old Murdoch.

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 4min 38.27sec.

Commonwealth Games record times were tumbling all morning at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre as Jamaica's Ali Atkinson went fastest in the women's 50m breaststroke in a Games record time of 30.49sec.

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 10,000m 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. Best wishes to my fellow athletes in Glasgow.

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, helping 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 quarter-finals.

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.

The Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, were betting on an intense sibling rivalry in their drive for a top-of-the-podium finish in the men's triathlon.

Alistair Brownlee will be out to add Commonwealth gold to his Olympic gold won in London in 2012, with triumphs in the World Triathlon Series in 2011 and 2013 sandwiching that victory.

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.

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