GLASGOW welcomed the Commonwealth Games with a vibrant opening ceremony last night, but the spotlight will fall on cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins today when competition begins in Scotland.
Wiggins makes his track return at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome as part of an English team pursuit squad, hoping to add one of the few gold medals missing from his collection.
The 34-year-old has four Olympic golds from track and road, and holds the honour of being the first Briton to win the Tour de France, but has never won a Commonwealth title.
His controversial omission from Team Sky’s Tour de France line-up paved the way for him to compete again on the indoor track, the surface where he began his career and on which he hopes to bow out at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
England’s team of Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant are due to race in the qualifying rounds just after midday, with the final scheduled for around 5:30pm.
Scotland’s key medal hope today is swimmer Michael Jamieson, who is set to compete in the men’s 200m breaststroke.
The hosts poked fun at themselves in a tongue-in-cheek celebration to open the Games last night at Celtic Park, which began with a giant kilt being hoisted to reveal entertainer John Barrowman on a truck. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh looked on as dancers depicted some of Scotland’s trademarks: Highland dancing, shipbuilding, whisky production, heather, golf and the Loch Ness monster. Three-time world squash champion Nick Matthew carried England’s flag.
Wiggins and his team-mates are not the only English gold medal hopes in action on day one. Triathlon could also prove successful, with the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, and Jodie Stimpson strong prospects.
Middle-distance runner Mo Farah is also set to represent England – all Home Nations compete individually – over the next 11 days, and, with Wiggins and sprinter Usain Bolt, is among the biggest stars at the Games. Bolt is not entered in the 100m and will instead only compete as part of Jamaica’s 4 x 100m relay team.