Scotland’s Renicks sisters went one better than England’s Brownlee brothers as the hosts experienced a golden first evening of competition at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.
Kimberley and Louise Renicks, from nearby Coatbridge, each won judo gold to thrill passionate crowds inside the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Between their successes, and across the city at Tollcross, there was another Scottish tale of glory as Hannah Miley pipped England’s Aimee Willmott to retain the 400 metres individual medley title. Ross Murdoch later put the cap on the home nation’s night by landing gold in the 200m breaststroke, leading home countryman Michael Jamieson, who wanted a world record but finished with silver.
Flower of Scotland boomed out repeatedly inside the Games venues, bagpipes providing an appropriate soundtrack as Scotland’s biggest city enjoyed a night to remember.
The Renicks even surpassed the achievements of the doyens of men’s triathlon from south of the border, although the only way the Brownlee’s could have matched the sisters would have been through a dead heat, each taking home gold to West Yorkshire.
As it transpired, Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee claimed first at Strathclyde Country Park by a comfortable distance from Jonny.
Their team-mate Jodie Stimpson had earlier landed the women’s triathlon title after a wonderful sprint finish, while there were further gold-medal moments for England provided by Ashley McKenzie, Nekoda Davis and Colin Oates in judo, and para-cyclist Sophie Thornhill with tandem pilot Helen Scott, who finished ahead of Scots Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston.
There was frustration to be found in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, with silver and bronze otherwise the order of the day for home nation riders. For England, Sir Bradley Wiggins and the team pursuiters, plus Jason Kenny and the team sprinters, had to accept second-best status.
Wales and Northern Ireland were empty-handed until late in the day.
Northern Ireland got off the mark when Edinburgh-based Lisa Kearney earned bronze in the under-52kgs judo division, and Wales took a sparkling silver in the rhythmic gymnastics thanks to impressive routines from Nikara Jenkins, Laura Halford and Francesca Jones.
It was a day that will be best remembered for sibling success though.
Kimberley Renicks beat Indian Shushila Likmabam to take gold in the under-48kgs class to give Scotland the country’s first gold of the Games, and barely an hour later came her sister’s triumph as Louise took under-52kgs honours from a showdown with England’s Kelly Edwards.
“It is absolutely brilliant. It is what I had been hoping for and what I have wanted for the last two years,” said Kimberley Renicks. “The crowd have been behind all of us and it has been a great start to the Commonwealth Games.”
Louise, who at 31 is five years her sister’s senior, added: “I have always believed I could get this medal, now I have got it, my job is done, and I am feeling brilliant, really proud of myself.
‘’I heard the Brownlee brothers won for England, so now it is two families who can celebrate.”
Stimpson won the first gold medal of the Games to banish her pain of missing out on the London Olympics.
England suffered a blow on Thursday morning with the withdrawal of double Olympic athletics champion Mo Farah, but the team’s fortunes were looking up as 25-year-old Stimpson sprinted to triathlon victory while team-mate Vicky Holland took a surprise bronze.
Stimpson said: “Obviously, I was devastated to miss a home Olympics. But that gave me the kick up the backside that I needed.”
The Brownlees were expected to dominate the triathlon and lived up to their billing.
Olympic gold medallist Alistair, 26, joked he might have to retire now he had nothing new left to win.
He said: “I’ve done everything I wanted to do, so I don’t know what I’m going to do now - I might as well retire!
‘I’m fortunate I’ve won the world title, I’ve won the Olympic title and to complete the set with the Commonwealth title as well, that’s the most important thing for me.”
He thought about waiting for Jonny, but said: ‘’We’d get told off a lot if we crossed the line together so I didn’t.’’
Jonny, 24, who won Olympic bronze in 2012, finished 11 seconds adrift, and said: ‘’I’m used to it now. I’m the guy who always comes second or third. Hopefully my time will come.”
Miley, who was watched in the morning heats by the Queen, shared in the Scottish feast of evening success with her stunning swim to glory in a Games-record time of four minutes and 31.76 seconds.
“Oh my God, that was just incredible,” said the 24-year-old. “I literally couldn’t feel my legs for the last 50 metres, so when I touched the wall I was hoping and praying that I could go fast.’’
Murdoch then matched her, claiming Jamieson’s scalp with a dazzling swim and a Games record of two minutes and 7.30 seconds.
“There’s no way that just happened. I can’t believe it,” Murdoch told BBC One. “That was amazing. It’s a dream come true.”
He broke down in tears on the podium, as his achievement sank in.
English swimming success was limited to Siobhan-Marie O’Connor’s 200m freestyle silver, James Guy’s 400m freestyle bronze, and a further silver for the 4x100m freestyle team as O’Connor claimed her second medal.
Scots Stephanie Inglis and Connie Ramsay took judo silver and bronze respectively in the under-57kgs. Colleagues James Millar and James Buchanan also won judo bronze medals. Kelly Edwards took silver in under-52kgs for England.
Wiggins might have been among the biggest names at the Games, but the 2012 Tour de France winner and reigning Olympic time-trial champion could not prevent Australia dominating the 4,000m team pursuit, as he, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant missed their gold target. English colleages Kenny, Kian Emadi and Philip Hindes were then thwarted by New Zealand in the men’s team sprint. Jess Varnish won 500m time-trial bronze.
Team England’s flag bearer Nick Matthew began his defence of the men’s squash singles title by reaching the third round at Scotstoun, beating Xavier Koenig of Mauritius and Jamaican Chris Binnie, while Laura Massaro also made a winning start.
England’s women’s hockey team got their campaign running with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Wales, and their male counterparts claimed a 6-1 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.