4,500 athletes come together for Commonwealth Games

GLASGOW - Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 20th Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on Wednesday after a moving and colourful ceremony in front of a 40,000-capacity crowd.

But even before the competitions proper began yesterday, the Games was hit by a piece of bad news: England's Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah withdrew from participation owing to illness.

With his trademark grin and winning pose, Farah was supposed to be a major drawing card for the Games, along with Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt.

Despite his absence, more than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations will be competing over 11 days, making the event the biggest that Scotland has ever hosted.

The Queen called on those present to "unite" in difficult times, as a minute's silence was held for the victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight disaster.

Eighty-two of the 298 people who died last week were from Commonwealth nations.

The 70-strong Team Singapore began their medal quest yesterday, with the men's and women's table-tennis teams strolling to easy 3-0 victories over Sri Lanka and Ghana respectively, as they bid to retain their golds won at the 2010 Games in New Delhi.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling also qualified for the 50m butterfly semi-finals at press time.

The 19-year-old clocked 23.43sec, the second-fastest qualifying time behind England's Benjamin Proud (23.17).

This article was first published on July 25, 2014.
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