Commonwealth Games

Pearson pulls out of Commonwealth Games

2018-04-05 09:53
Sally Pearson (Getty)

Gold Coast - Poster-girl Sally Pearson dealt the Commonwealth Games a major blow by pulling out with an Achilles' injury on Thursday, as competition got under way with dramatic scenes in the swimming pool.

Australia's Pearson, the 100m hurdles world champion and a Gold Coast resident, said she was in tears when she realised she needed to withdraw, but added: "My health comes first."

The former Olympic champion, 31, is the face of the Games, but she said a long-standing Achilles' problem flared up two days ago and left her unable to clear hurdles in training.

"Of course, I did everything I possibly could. I left no stone unturned to get out here and race for Australia in the 100m hurdles and the 4x100m relay," Pearson said.

"Everyone knows how much of a competitor I am and how much I love running for my country and my team-mates.

"I know I have a lot of fans who were wanting to watch me race. But for me, it is about my health and I want to go to Tokyo (Olympics) in 2020."

Pearson's announcement made for a gloomy start to the Games, which formally opened with a vibrant ceremony in the beachside city late on Wednesday.

Flora Duffy won the opening gold medal, in the women's triathlon, becoming Bermuda's first female medallist and lifting the tiny territory top of the day-one medals table.

Henri Schoeman left England's Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, the Olympic gold and silver-medallists, trailing as the South African won the men's triathlon ahead of Australia's Jacob Birtwhistle.

In weightlifting, Malaysia's Muhammad Azroy Hazalwa set the Games' first Commonwealth record with a total of 261kg to win the men's 56kg class, a result he celebrated by dancing and doing a lap of honour of the lifting area.

But there was controversy in the outdoor Southport pool when defending champion Ben Proud of England was disqualified from the men's 50m butterfly heats for a false start.

Proud's error, which prompted an appeal by the England team, lifted the hopes of South Africa's Chad le Clos, who lagged the Englishman in their heat.

But the 2012 Olympic butterfly gold medallist, who is attempting to become the most decorated athlete in Games history, said he would rather finish second than win a race that was missing its strongest swimmer.

"Absolutely, I'd rather come second - straight up," le Clos told AFP. 

"I'd rather come second to somebody that deserves to win, but we'll see what happens."

Elsewhere, Olympic champion Mack Horton was fastest into the men's 400m freestyle final, where he stands to become the first Australian winner since Ian Thorpe in 2002.

Australia's Ariarne Titmus, 17, was quickest in the women's 200m freestyle heats, while 2010 and 2014 winner Hannah Miley of Scotland led the timings in the 400m individual medley.

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