Glasgow's Commonwealth Games were handed a heavy body blow early on Thursday's opening day with the news that athletics legend Mo Farah had pulled out due to injury.
The 5 000 and 10 000 metres Olympic champion, 31, was recently laid low by illness and has decided to pull out of the Games in order to work on his fitness ahead of next month's European Championships in Zurich.
"I have taken the tough decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games," Farah said in a statement released by Team England.
"I really wanted to add the Commonwealth titles to my Olympic and World Championships, but the event is coming a few weeks too soon for me as my body is telling me it's not ready to race yet. Best wishes to my fellow athletes in Glasgow.
Lawn Bowls action, meanwhile, got the Games underway on a day when Australia's powerhouse swimmers were expected to dominate and there were high hopes of an early gold medal for hosts Scotland in the pool.
Australian swimmers won just one gold at the Olympics with their campaign plagued by accusations of bullying, wild partying and misuse of prescription drugs.
Over six days of competition at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, Australia will be hopeful of retaining the women's 4x100m freestyle relay, whilst the Aussie trio of Emma Mckeon, Bronte Barrat and Brittany Elmslie will battle for gold in the women's 200m freestyle.
Michael Jamieson and Hannah Miley will try to get the Games off to a flying start for hosts Scotland as they go for gold in the men's 200m breaststroke and women's 400m individual medley respectively.
Glasgow-born Jamieson has become the face of the Games following his silver medal in the Olympics and has Japan's Akihiro Yamaguchi's world record in his sights as he looks to go one better in home water.
Miley was Commonwealth champion in Dehli four years ago and will be aiming to hold off competition from England's Aimee Willmott to defend her title.
The first para-sport swimming gold of the Games will also be on offer in the men's 100m freestyle S9 event.
In total, 21 golds will be won on Thursday.
As well as four in the pool, there are four up for grabs on the first day of track cycling at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
Bradley Wiggins is back on the track for the first time since 2008 and aiming to win his first ever Commonwealth gold in the 400m team pursuit for England.
Six-time Commonwealth Games medallist Anna Meares will begin her record-setting quest with the 500m time trial as the Australian bids to become the first competitor to win a track cycling medal at four Commonwealth Games.
New Zealand will be the team to beat in the men's team sprint event.
The Kiwis riders, including Eddie Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell, go into the event as favourites after their triumph in the world championships in Colombia and will want to go one better than the silver they claimed in Dehli in 2010.
They will face competition from traditional powers Australia and England that contains sprint king Jason Kenny.
The women's para-sport sprint B tandem event will mark the first time Commonwealth Games athletes have competed in a para-sport track cycling competition.
The Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, are betting on an intense sibling rivalry in their drive for a top-of-the-podium finish in the triathlon.
Alistair Brownlee will be out to add Commonwealth gold to his Olympic gold won in London in 2012, with triumphs in the World Triathlon Series in 2011 and 2013 sandwiching that victory.
The women's individual race promises to have several contenders vying for gold.
New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt claimed bronze the last time the triathlon took place at the Games and she also holds a silver from the 2011 World Triathlon Series and bronzes from the 2009 and 2012 editions.
She will likely be up against England's Jodie Stimpson, a silver medal winner in the World Triathlon Series in 2013.
Indian lifters are expected to be at the forefront on the first day's action in the weightlifting.
There are also five titles to be decided in judo and one in rhythmic gymnastics while preliminaries begin in field hockey, lawn bowls, netball, squash, table tennis and badminton. – AFP