Australia target new gold medal drive at Commonwealth Games

Glasgow: Swimming and cycling dominate the action on the second day of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with Scotland and Australia looking for more gold in the pool and Australia and England the powerhouses on the track

Those three nations sparked Thursday`s opening day with Australia topping the medals chase with six golds, England second on five and hosts Scotland delighted with four.

The Australians were looking to build on their three golds in the pool with the men`s 4x100m freestyle relay team out to defend their title.

Thomas Fraser Holmes was also well-fancied for the men`s 400m individual medley, whilst Cameron McKay will battle with home favourite Robbie Renwick in the men`s 200m freestyle.

Alicia Coutts will be looking to claim her sixth Commonwealth Games gold in the women`s 100m butterfly, but she had to settle for third fastest in qualifying behind England`s Siobhan O`Connor and Katerine Savard.

Australia also have a strong medal chance in the men`s 100m backstroke after Mitch Larkin qualified fastest ahead of English duo Chris Walker-Hebborn and defending champion Liam Tancock.

South African Olympic champion Chad le Clos goes for his first gold of the Games in the 50m breaststroke, but will have his work cut out to overcome England`s Benjamin Proud who qualified fastest on Thursday.

Scotland`s Ross Murdoch, who upstaged countryman Michael Jamieson to take gold in the 200m breaststroke will be back in the pool in his favourite event, the 100m breaststroke.

Four golds were up for grabs on the second day of track cycling.

England`s sprint king Jason Kenny, who claimed silver in the team sprint event on Thursday, will have his work cut out in his individual sprint quarter-final where he faces Australian Matthew Glaetzer, who set a new Commonwealth Games record in qualifying.

England`s Laura Trott will be the one to beat in the women`s 3,000m individual pursuit. 

The double Olympic champion will face competition from Scotland`s Katie Archibald, who in recent months has gone from virtual unknown to becoming a world and European champion in the team pursuit.

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.
Friday sees two more weightlifting medals up for grabs in the Clyde Auditorium, in the women`s 53kg and men`s 62kg.

In women`s competition, there will be new names on the podium, with the three medallists from Delhi 2010 all absent from the tournament in Glasgow.

In their absence, Papua New Guinea`s Dika Toua will be considered the favourite for gold, with competition expected from Malaysia`s Azizah Fadzil.

The men`s competition threatens to be a South Seas battle between Samoan Vaipava Ioane and Tuvalu`s Lapua Lapua.

The shooting competition gets under way with three golds to be decided at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre.

The women`s 10m air pistol sees six-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lalita Yauhleuskaya of Australia challenging the defending champion Bibiana Ng Pei Chin of Malaysia.

In the men`s 10m air rifle, reigning champion Gagan Narang is not competing which leaves compatriot Abhinav Bindra as favourite.

The women`s skeet made a return to the Commonwealth Games shooting after eight years with highly-rated Indian Aarti Singh Rao level on 25 points with Lauren Mark of AUstralia after the first round of qualifying..

Other highlights will see India open their men`s hockey campaign against Wales.

Despite being eight-time Olympic champions, India have never won Commonwealth Games gold. 

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.

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