At what is being dubbed the “Games of Firsts”, Day One of the XXI Commonwealth Games saw a flurry of firsts here on the Gold Coast.
At what is being dubbed the “Games of Firsts”, Day One of the XXI Commonwealth Games saw a flurry of firsts here on the Gold Coast, with Bermuda securing the honour of first medal of the Games at Southport Broadwater Parklands. Triathlete Flora Duffy won the first Gold of the Games, becoming Bermuda’s first ever female Commonwealth Gold medallist. The World No.1 finished in a time of 56 minutes and 50 seconds, with England’s Jessica Learmonth claiming silver, 43 seconds behind, and Joanna Brown from Canada taking bronze a further five seconds later.
Flora competed at both the Melbourne 2006 (age 18) and at Glasgow 2014, placing 8th. Commenting on her historic win, Flora said: “I am from a tiny country with not a lot of medallists so I am expected to win. I try to forget about it because I do it every week, so that's how I deal with the pressure. There's a 50-foot poster of me in town. Being an introvert it gets a bit much, but it's great to inspire.”
In a remarkable first day of competition in South East Queensland, Australia, Malaysia’s Izhar Ahmad won the first Men’s Gold medal of the Games by winning the men’s 56kg weightlifting, and, at the same time, breaking the first Commonwealth record of the Games. He lifted a total of 261kg at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre, with his third clean and jerk of 144kg securing the record and an unbeatable lead in a dominant performance.
Izhar Ahmad said: “I am extremely happy and proud to have won this event. At the same time, I'm happy to have broken the national record in Malaysia after 16 years. I dedicate this medal to my country and family.”
Four world records were also shattered on the thrilling first day of competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games, setting the scene for 11 days of world-class sporting action.
Host nation Australia broke its own world record in winning the women's 4x100m freestyle swimming relay.
The quartet was never in doubt for the gold medal, with lead-off swimmer Shayna Jack and Bronte Campbell, swimming the second leg, establishing a one body-length lead over the rest of the field. Emma McKeon managed to extend that lead to two body-lengths before handing over to former 100m freestyle world record holder Cate Campbell sprinted home to stop the clock at three minutes 30.05 seconds, lowering the previous record set at the Rio 2016 Olympics by 0.6 seconds.
Canada claimed silver in 3:33.92 and England (3:38.40) took the bronze.
Cate Campbell said: “It was a fantastic effort from everyone involved. Relays are my favourite event, they're the ones where you can relax and enjoy it the most. You get to share it with your teammates and obviously I've lived most of my life with Bronte and I've trained a lot with Shayna, and I've grown up with Emma, so to do something that special with these incredible women is a rare event.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Hamer of England broke his own world record to win gold in the men's S14 200m freestyle final at the Optus Aquatic Centre.
Hamer, who won silver in the event at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, touched the wall in one minute, 55.88 seconds to break his previous world record of 1:56.18.
Thomas Hamer said: “It means the world. It's amazing that in four years I've progressed to a gold. I'm really happy.”
Over at the Anna Meares Velodrome, Australia's men’s team pursuit cyclists had the crowd on their feet as they set a new world record in the gold medal race against England. It was an initially tight contest before Alex Porter, Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Jordan Kerby pulled away to stop the clock at 3:49.804.
Sam Welsford said: “This is a dream come true. We've had our eye on the medal for such a long time, and to go under 3.50 – for that to happen is unreal. I'm over the moon with excitement. We're in our home country. That is what dreams are made of. This is what we strive for every day.”
World-record holder Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott claimed gold in the women's B&VI sprint for England, beating Jessica Gallagher and Madison Janssen of Australia in two finals races. Gallagher had broken her own world record in the morning's qualifying with a time of 10.954 seconds, before it was re-set just minutes later by Thornhill, who completed the 200m distance in 10.609 to regain the world record time in the event.
Reflecting on the defence of her Glasgow 2014 title, Sophie Thornhill said: “It was an amazing feeling to defend our title from four years ago. That's why we do the hard work to win.”
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin CBE last night cited Gold Coast 2018 as the “Games of Firsts” – a statement quickly validated by a the phenomenal firsts that occurred on day one of competition. The Games have been widely applauded as the first multi-sports event ever with a Reconciliation Action Plan and an equal number of medal events for men and women; and the largest-ever integrated para-sport programme in Commonwealth Games history.
Congratulating all participating athletes on day one of the Games, CGF President Louise Martin CBE said: “This is what Commonwealth Sport is all about. Athletes from diverse countries and cultures are all competing on the same playing field and vying to be the best in our family of nations. It is tremendous to see Bermuda secure its first female gold medal and Malaysia break the first Commonwealth record of these Games. We couldn’t be happier for them.”