Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Commonwealth Games start under shadow of Farah’s exit

AFP, GLASGOW, Scotland

Scotland’s delegation attend the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

England’s Jodie Stimpson won the opening gold of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow yesterday, when the multi-sport event was hit by the withdrawal of athletics legend Mo Farah.

Stimpson, a silver medalist in last year’s ITU World Triathlon Series, sprinted clear with 400m remaining in 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.

Action also got underway 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 record by more than 2 seconds in a time of 2 minutes, 08.78 seconds, 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,” the 20-year-old Murdoch said.

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 4 minutes, 38.27 seconds.

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 30.49 seconds.

The immediacy of the action took some of the sting out of Farah’s withdrawal, which rocked the Games just as they got underway.

Alongside Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt, Farah is one of the most recognizable faces of track and field, and his absence will be sorely missed in Glasgow.

“Certainly there’ll be some disappointed people, but there’s plenty of great athletes that are coming and are here,” Commonwealth Games chief executive David Grevemberg said.

Farah, the 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic and world champion, was recently laid low by illness and has decided to pull out of the tournament to work on his fitness ahead of next month’s European Championships in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I have taken the tough decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games,” Farah, 31, 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.”

Farah had been preparing for Glagow in Font Romeu, France, and revealed that he will remain there in the build-up to the European Championships, which begin on Aug. 12.

“The sickness I had two weeks ago was a big setback for me,” he added. “Training is getting better here in Font Romeu, but I need another few weeks to get back to the level I was at in 2012 and 2013.”

It had been widely feared that Bolt would not be fit for Glasgow after missing the Jamaican national championships, but he has made himself available for the relay, although compatriots Yohan Blake (hamstring injury) and Asafa Powell (ban) have been ruled out.

The first para-sport swimming gold of the Games was also on offer in the men’s 100m freestyle S9 event, one of a total of 21 golds to be won yesterday. As well as four in the pool, there are four up for grabs on the first day of track cycling at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top