GLASGOW: Australia’s swimmers were back on the gold medal trail early on the second day of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow yesterday, while Wales were hit by a second doping shock.
Welsh 400m hurdler Rhys Williams, son of 1970s Wales and British Lion rugby icon ‘JJ’, was withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games after failing a doping test.
It was the second failed doping test to hit the Wales team following that of 800m runner Gareth Warburton last week.
The 30-year-old Williams, who had been named co-captain of his country’s team and had been due to have run in the 400m hurdles, said he had been left “devastated” by the news of his positive test.
“I am utterly devastated about the news of this anti-doping rule violation, which has come as a great shock to me,” he said.
In competition, the Australian men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team solidified their status as heavy favourites to retain the title as they qualified fastest ahead of England and Scotland for the final later yesterday.
There was also a comfortable passage into the semi-finals of the women’s 100m backstroke for another Aussie as Emily Seebholm broke her own Commonwealth Games record from Delhi four years ago in a time of 59:51sec.
And Australia’s Maddison Elliott pipped Stephanie Slater of England to qualify fastest for the women’s para-sport freestyle 100m S8 final. England’s Fran Halsall, however, set a new Commonwealth Games record of 24:31sec in qualifying fastest for the semi-finals of the women’s 50m freestyle ahead of Australian sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell on Friday.
The Campbell sisters had been part of the Aussie 4x100m freestyle relay team that broke the world record in claiming gold on Thursday and Bronte was first to break the Commonwealth record in the third heat of the day.
“It’s pretty good, it’s my fastest time of the year so it was a nice way to start the Games,” said Halsall ahead of the semi-finals.
Scotland’s Ross Murdoch also built on his dream opening day as just over 12 hours after claiming 200m breaststroke gold, he qualified second fastest for the 100m breaststroke semi-finals.
“I took me a little bit of time to get over what I did last night and finally get some rest but I eventually got to sleep,” said Murdoch.
However, it was England’s Adam Peaty who comfortably led the world class field in the 100m breaststroke as he broke the Commonwealth Games record in a time of 59:47sec.
Australia ended the opening day of the Games atop the medals table with six golds ahead of England on five and hosts Scotland with four.
In cycling, where four golds were up for grabs on the track, English Olympic champion Jason Kenny, who claimed silver in the team sprint event on the opneing day on Thursday, had a fine 2-0 win over tough Australian Matthew Glaetzer in the sprint quarter-finals.
The win set up a semi-final against another Australian in the shape of Peter Lewis.
The other semi-final is an all New Zealand clash between Edward Dawkins and Sam Webster
But there was bitter disappointment for Kenny’s girlfriend Laura Trott who could only place sixth in qualifying for the women’s individual pursuit after setting a new Commonwealth Games record in qualifying.
Fastest time went to English world champion Joanna Rowsell, who overtook New Zealand’s Lauren Ellis in the last pair as she clocked three minutes 29.038 seconds.
New Zealand’s men brought a 12-year gold medal drought on the Commonwealth Games track to an end with victory in the team sprint and could add more in the 4,000m individual pursuit.
Veteran Marc Ryan remains a quality performer shown by his bronze in the World Championships in Colombia in February and he is likely to be joined by youngsters Patrick Bevin and Dylan Kennett, who are tipped as ones to watch.
New Zealand start their campaign for a third successive netball gold while men’s boxing also starts with bouts in the bantamweight, welterweight, super heavyweight, flyweight and light heavyweight divisions.