Anna Hopkin could not have hoped for a better introduction to the Commonwealth Games as she scooped bronze in her first swim of the meet on the Gold Coast.
The 21-year-old from Chorley was part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team that capped off a golden night for England with third place behind a record-breaking Australia and Canada.
Hopkin’s split of 53.82 was the fastest of the English quartet of Olympic silver-medallist Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Freya Anderson and Ellie Faulkner, as England came home after Australia had broken their own world record to thunderous applause from the 10,000-strong home crowd.
And Hopkin admitted it was the perfect way to get underway in her maiden Commonwealth Games.
She said: “It was really exciting. It’s my first Commonwealth Games so I just wanted to make the most of it. Obviously being in this crowd, with Australia as favourites, they were going mad. I think it brought out the best in me.
“The team has been amazing and I’m just really happy to get a medal.
“The team has been really welcoming and everyone has been so helpful.”
Meanwhile, Chorley squash ace Laura Massaro insists a unique build-up may prove to be the cure for her unfavourable form in 2018 as she began her bid for a first Commonwealth Games gold with a simple victory.
The 34-year-old has spent a rare month at home honing her training ahead of the Gold Coast and despite a shaky start she defeated Barbados’ Amanda Haywood in straight games 11-6 11-5 11-5.
And with bigger tests to come as soon as the next round of the women’s singles, Massaro is confident her hard work will help her put together a week of performances worthy of gold.
“I’ve trained as hard as I’ve perhaps have done in the last 18 months so that’s really positive,” she said.
“My form hasn’t been brilliant coming into 2018 so I’ve put in a good month at home.
“I’ve come into the event knowing I could have done no more and that makes me proud of myself.
“After Chicago and our National Championships I realised things have moved on and changed and the game’s getting quicker and faster and my training needed to adapt to go with that so I just tried to make a few changes, trained harder so I’m just trying to find my way back into tournament play.”
There was also an opening day win for Preston’s Chloe Birch who helped England to victory over Uganda in the opening game of the badminton team event.
“It was a little bit nervous going into that but my first Commonwealth and the first game isn’t always the easiest but yeah I’m really happy with that,” said Birch, who beat Shamin Bangi 2-0 on her games debut.
“It’s nice to have friends and family in the crowd as well, and you can’t beat representing Team England.”
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