England poised to make early start on road to medal glory as Commonwealth Games begin

Team England's Ed Clancy
Team England's Ed Clancy
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Twenty gold medals are up for grabs on day one of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with some of Yorkshire’s biggest sporting stars poised to get England’s campaign up and running.

The Brownlee brothers of Leeds race against each other in the men’s triathlon this afternoon as they look to go one better than the historic first and third they achieved at London 2012.

Olympic champion Alistair, 26, is favourite to become the first Commonwealth Games triathlon champion with sibling Jonny, 24, his closest competitor.

The action moves quickly from Strathclyde Country Park to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome where Huddersfield’s Ed Clancy bids to win the Commonwealth title in the team pursuit.

Clancy, 29, lines up alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins in the four-kilometre race, making the four-man England squad the team to beat.

Strong squads from Australia and New Zealand – gold and bronze medallists at this year’s world championships – will have other ideas, but victory would complete the set of titles for Clancy, who is a double Olympic, five-time world and four-time European champion.

And this evening, four Yorkshire swimmers get an early chance to open their busy programmes in the Tolcross International Swimming Centre with a Commonwealth medal.

City of Sheffield club-mates Eleanor Faulkner, 21, of the steel city and Rebecca Turner, 21, of Rotherham, race in the 200m freestyle, with the latter also in England’s 4x100m squad.

Middlesbrough’s Aimee Willmott, also 21, is a genuine medal contender in the 400m individual medley, while Rotherham’s Nicholas Grainger hopes to make a dent in the 400m freestyle.

Between them, the seven triathletes, swimmers and cyclists have the chance to lay down a marker for not only England, but for Yorkshire, as the county’s representatives seek to emulate their achievements at the Summer Olympics two years ago, when the likes of the Brownlees, Clancy and Jessica Ennis-Hill rose to prominence.

One of those to shoot to stardom was Leeds boxer Nicola Adams, who gets her Commonwealth Games campaign underway on Monday.

Adams has no host nation rivals in the flyweight division and starts as strong favourite to create more history as the first female Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist.

But the 31-year-old finds herself in the unusual position of having something to prove after suffering her first defeat in two years at the European Championships in Bucharest in June.

Adams’ points loss to Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova ended a run that had started after her 2011 world final defeat and hit a high point when she sailed to victory over China’s Ren Cancan in London.

Adams said: “I had been suffering with a shoulder injury and I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent but I thought it was worth the risk. I have got to fight back now and do it again.”

Sheffield’s former world squash champion Nick Matthew begins his quest for glory in the singles today after having the honour last night of carrying the English flag into Celtic Park for the opening ceremony.