A golden start for Yee as park embraces Games

The first day of the Commonwealth Games has brought hot weather, warm smiles and fast action.

Alex Yee celebrates his first Commonwealth gold medal. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.
Alex Yee celebrates his first Commonwealth gold medal. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield was the setting for the first gold medal of the Games, with Alex Yee from England taking the victory in the men's sprint triathlon.

The race took place in front of a sold out and very noisy crowd at Sutton Park, with the main arena set around the transition area and finish line and full of sound and colour.

People heading for the venue were able to take advantage of free travel on trains and buses across the West Midlands network, with plenty of people packing for a long day out.

On arriving at Sutton Coldfield railway station, volunteers positioned at the station are able to point you in the direction of shuttle buses or, if you fancy it, a walk towards the park.

The walk will take you into some very pretty woodland, with about a 15 minute walk from the station to the entrance gate, which has full security in place and members of the armed forces checking your bags.

Volunteers were everywhere in the instantly recognisable orange and blue outfits and were full of smiles as they directed people towards the entrance gates or their seats in the stand.

Alex Yee heads for gold as he reaches the end of the men's sprint triathlon. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Inside, there are a wide range of food and drink items for sale, as well as plenty of areas to fill up water for free, provided by Severn Trent.

Setting in with the theme of a sustainable Games, there were also manicured hedge sofas and banks of trees for people shelter under, as the temperature rose steadily throughout the day.

In the stands, people were lead in Mexican waves and other audience participation events by the competition hosts, with people from dozens of Commonwealth nations and territories getting ready to watch the men's sprint event.

Sarah Whelan had travelled up from Bracknell to watch the event and said it was a wonderful setting.

The triathletes get the swim underway at the men's sprint triathlon in Sutton Park. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

She said: "The triathlon was the main reason for coming here today, but I also wanted to be part of a home Games as you don't get opportunities like that too often.

"I'm looking forward to great experiences here and I'm also excited about seeing the mountain biking, so it's going to be great."

Among the dignitaries in attendance were the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Diane Henderson, who said she hoped everyone had a good day and enjoyed being at the Games.

As the race got ready to start, the competitors, who came from countries and territories as diverse as Ghana, Solomon Islands and Guernsey, took a cheer from the audience as they were introduced.

Joseph Schembri from Gibraltar was part of the team supporting his competitors and said he was very impressed with the venue.

He said: "We're here to support our competitors and it's great to do it here as this is a fantastic venue and I'm really pleased to be here."

The cycling section took riders through the streets of Sutton Coldfield. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Mr Schembri's good feelings about the venue were echoed by Josh Lewis from Guernsey and Joseph Okal from Kenya who, after the race, said they had enjoyed the venue and the welcome to the Games.

Josh said: "This is an unbelievable venue for a triathlon, with the swim being such a spectacle and the bike course was really cool, with people on the streets cheering us.

"The people here have been so welcoming and friendly and that's just made the experience so much more enjoyable."

Guernsey's Josh Lewis said the setting for the triathlon was an amazing one. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Joseph, who is the first Kenyan to compete in triathlon, said: "The venue is really good and the organisation is amazing and it was my first race in Europe and I really enjoyed it.

"Everyone here has been so welcome and made you feel at home, so it's great to be here, although I would have liked to do a bit better with my performance today."

The crowd kept cheering all day, from Alex Yee in first place to Timson Irowane from Solomon Islands, who finished last, but never gave up.

It's gold for Alex Yee as he wins the men's sprint triathlon. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

The women's race saw the same level of energy from the crowd and bodes well for the rest of the Games.

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