GLASGOW, Scotland // Australia’s Michael Shelley took the first athletics gold of the Commonwealth Games, avenging his runner-up finish in the men’s marathon from four years ago.
Thousands of spectators braved damp conditions along the 26.2-mile course, which took in the city’s squares, parks and bridges across the River Clyde.
The event started and finished at Glasgow Green, the oldest public park in Scotland, where Shelley crossed the line to win in a personal-best time.
Kenya’s John Ekiru Kelai threatened briefly to become the second man to retain the Commonwealth marathon crown, but fell away as the lead switched hands and Shelley came through.
Showing impressive energy reserves, Shelley stormed into the lead and crossed the line in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 15 seconds, or 43 seconds quicker than silver medallist Stephen Chemlany of Kenya.
“It is starting to sink in now,” said Shelley, 30. “I dug deep and I was hoping I wouldn’t blow up like I have done in the past.”
He was leading by 100 metres at the end, but kept on chugging.
“It was still head down, don’t think about it too much, because anything could happen,” he said. “I was a bit like, ‘Urgh, keep going, keep going, keep digging, keep digging’.
“I kept focused to finish off as strong as possible.”
Scotland’s Derek Hawkins crossed the line ninth in 2:14:15, despite being sick on the way to the finish, while Steven Way finished 10th with a personal best.
Way, 40, was beaming from ear to ear after his 2:15:16 time, just seven years on from weighing in at 105 kilograms and smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
“Best day ever,” said Way, an Englishman. “I couldn’t have wished for a better day.”
Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech Daniel took the women’s crown in 2:26:45, followed home by compatriot Caroline Kilel and Australian Jess Trengove.
Scottish runner Susan Partridge finished sixth in 2:32:18, although earlier in the race, there looked to be a realistic chance of a British medal.
Aly Dixon of England led after 45 minutes, but eventually dropped out with a calf problem.
England teammates Louise Damen and Amy Whitehead both managed top-10 finishes.
Ashmeade raises hopes for Jamaica in Bolt’s absence
Jamaican champion Nickel Ashmeade and Britain’s Adam Gemili both sailed through their heats of the men’s 100 metres at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday, but Richard Thompson had a wobble.
Ashmeade, part of the gold medal-winning Jamaican 4x100m relay team at the world championships last year, clocked an easy-going 10.40 seconds to win his heat at a packed Hampden Park, home to the Scotland international football side.
The weight of the Caribbean island’s expectations is resting squarely on Ashmeade’s shoulders in the absence of sprint superstar Usain Bolt, who will compete solely in the relay in Glasgow after an injury-plagued season.
Gemili, likewise, is the main English hope, and the former aspiring footballer timed an impressive 10.15, the day’s fastest qualifying time, for which the crowd gave him rousing acclaim.
“I’m loving it, I’m very lucky to come to a place like this, the reception was amazing,” he said.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Thompson, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, finished third in his heat in 10.33, but still qualified for Monday’s semi-finals as one of the six fastest outside the top two in each of the nine heats. Thompson teammate Keston Bledman and Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole both clocked 10.16 to win their respective heats. Also qualifying were Antigua’s Daniel Bailey and Jamaica’s Jason Livermore.
In the women’s 100m heats, Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad rebounded from a sluggish start to finish second in her heat in 11.44, behind Canadian winner Khamica Bingham.
Veronica Campbell-Brown looked slick in winning in 11.29 and will be joined in the semi-finals by teammates Schillonie Calvert, who clocked the same time in winning her heat, and Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart (11.35).
The Jamaican Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic 100m bronze medallist, spent 10 months on the sidelines before having a two-year ban overturned earlier this year.
Official denies dent by failed dope test of Williams
Rhys Williams’s failed drug test has not cast a cloud over the Glasgow Games, an official insisted on Sunday.
The European 400m hurdles champion from Wales said he was “utterly devastated”, claiming that he had never knowingly doped.
As for how the incident reflected on the event’s image, Mike Hooper of the Commonwealth Games Federation said: “I think it sends a very strong signal to anyone who would go down that path: if you take that choice, you will be caught.”
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