Golden moments and a silver setback on first day of Commonwealth Games


Glasgow's went off with a bang, a beep and plenty of roars yesterday, with England and the Scotland making their marks on the medals table after success in the triathlon, cycling, judo and swimming.

The standout performance of the day was arguably that of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, whose dominance of the was absolute. Gold was claimed for England by the Olympic champion Alistair – who was so far ahead at the finish he had time to slow to a walk, collect two flags and applaud his younger sibling across the line for silver. The next closest competitor was a minute and 20 seconds behind them.

But there was disappointment for and the lively crowds at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, after his four-man England squad in the 4,000 metre team pursuit were well beaten to gold by world champions Australia.

The biggest British sporting name to compete at the Games after the withdrawal of Mo Farah on Thursday due to illness, Wiggins had hoped to make up for a disappointing summer when he found himself , despite winning the event two years ago.

But, speaking after his race, he said the team had always seen the event as a preparation for the Olympics in two years' time. "It's been a great break from the road and a good start for Rio. Four weeks ago we sat in a room for the first time in six years and wondered how far we can go. We've had limited preparations for this and hopefully will look back in two years with gold medals around our necks thinking this was the starting point in .

"I don't want to sound like Roy Hodgson, but there were plenty of positives."

His Tour de France win had made him for a time "the most famous man in the country", Wiggins said this week; as he took to his bike at the velodrome named after Britain's other cycling knight, he might even have been a Scot, so rapturous was the roar as his name was announced.

Aileen McGlynn swooped around the velodrome to a similar reception after claiming Scotland's first medal of the Games, a silver, in the para-sport tandem sprint along with her co-rider Louise Haston, beaten by England's Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott. Unlike the Olympics, Commonwealth para-sport is fully integrated into the mainstream Games and medallists are ranked on the same table.

The host nation later secured its first gold – at the judo, with Kimberly Renicks winning in the -48kg category, followed by bronze for John Buchanan. Later Hannah Miley took another Scottish gold, the first of the Games in the pool, successfully defending her 400m individual medley title.

The Brownlees' triumph came after for England in the women's triathlon, the first medal of the Games, with her compatriot Vicky Holland taking bronze behind Canada's Kirsten Sweetland.

Alistair Brownlee said the Commonwealth title had been the target of his season, allowing him to complete a collection that includes an Olympic, four European and six World Championship golds. "For me to complete the set of titles is perfect, far more than I ever hoped for," he said. "I don't know what I am going to now – I might as well retire."

Praising the support he had received around Strathclyde Country Park, he said it had felt as if "most of Yorkshire" had been cheering him on. "There seems to be more Yorkshire flags than any other flags from the Commonwealth nations, so that is fantastic."

That generosity of support was reflected around the venues, a day after the Games had opened with a quirky and good-humoured celebration of Scottishness at Celtic Park.

The Wood family from Yorkshire had ensured they booked their tickets "ages ago" and were following an exhilarating evening at the opening ceremony with a sweaty afternoon at the velodrome, where Lauren, eight, and James, six, were in no doubt who they had come to see: "Brad-ley Wig-gins!"

As a Scot who left the country 20 years ago, their mother, Jennifer, said it had been emotional to return to the city during the Games. But there was no family discord between the Scottish parents and their determinedly English children, said Tom, her husband.

"I think that has been overplayed, to be honest. These are the friendly games at the end of the day, and the sport has got to be in the same vein. It's a healthy rivalry, let's say that."

While there were plenty of saltires draped over knees and painted on faces in the banked seats at the Emirates arena, and Scots invariably received the most rousing support, competitors from the other home nations were all greeted enthusiastically.

Fraser Campbell from Falkirk, taking a break from the sticky badminton arena with wife Fiona and four-year-old daughter Erin, described himself as a proud Scot when it came to Glasgow's performance in hosting the games, but "more Team GB" when it came to his support for the athletes. He had been eagerly cheering Welsh competitors at the badminton. "My view is I support all the home nations equally."

Despite their late night at Wednesday's opening ceremony, the Queen and Prince Philip had a whistlestop tour of the city, taking in the athletes' village in Dalmarnock, the Tollcross aquatics centre and the hockey, where they watched part of a match between England and Wales – and where a photograph in which a grinning monarch appeared in a selfie taken by two Australian players rapidly went viral on the internet.

, the Scottish first minister, preferred a trip to the lawn bowls, which he described as "one of a number of sports which doesn't get the publicity it deserves". Asked about his own ability, he said: "If teams want to make up the numbers, I'm here to step in."