Commonwealth Games: England enjoy silver medal start: Cyclists and shooters show their paces

ENGLAND'S cyclists and shooters put a silver polish on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games while Scotland made an early mark on the medals table here yesterday.

In the cycling 100km team time trial, the English squad of Matthew Illingworth, Paul Jennings, Simon Lillistone and 35-year-old Peter Longbottom, recalled at the start of the week after a late SOS, rode a strong second half to pass New Zealand. But they were no match for a strong Australan quartet who set a Commonwealth record of 1hr 53min 19.13sec to win by more than three minutes. In contrast to the English team, which consisted of a civil engineer, a labourer and two unemployed riders, the Australians profited from the rule change permitting the inclusion of professionals. All the squad are full-time riders. In the women's 50km team time trial, England - Maxine Johnson, Maria Lawrence, Yvonne McGregor and Julia Freeman - won bronze behind Australia and Canada.

In the pairs air rifle competition, Canada opened their gold medal account with victory over the English duo of Chris Hector and Nigel Wallace and Scotland's David Rattray and Robert Law.

The biggest cheers in the opening ceremony had been reserved for the South African team, returning to Commonwealth competition after 36 years, but they still could not outrun controversy. Sports minister Steve Tshwete had to answer criticism as to why only seven of the 112- strong squad were black.

In the men's gymnastics team event, England could manage only third place, behind Canada and Australia.

Nielsen wins, Results, page 20