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Commonwealth Games: Kiwis hot favourites in Games Rugby Sevens

New Zealand got the Rugby Sevens tournament underway at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Saturday (July 26) on a day when 27 gold medals were up for grabs notably in swimming, judo, shooting and cycling where Australia's Anna Meares will attempt to defend her women's sprint title.

GLASGOW: New Zealand got the Rugby Sevens tournament underway at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Saturday (July 26) on a day when 27 gold medals were up for grabs notably in swimming, judo, shooting and cycling where Australia's Anna Meares will attempt to defend her women's sprint title.

Set to make its Olympic debut in Rio in 2016, rugby union sevens, will have the chance to shine at Rangers' Ibrox Stadium. The line-up is staggeringly strong for the abbreviated form of the game with all-conquering New Zealand bidding to maintain their remarkable unbeaten record and bid for a fifth successive gold medal that was kicked off by the Jonah Lomu-inspired triumph in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Of the 15 other teams in the draw, Canada, Scotland, South Africa, Kenya, Samoa, Wales, England and Australia are ever-presents on the IRB's annual men's World Series, underlying the high-quality field and the fact there are only a handful of tickets left for a sport showcasing in a football-obsessed city. Home fans will have plenty to shout about early on with Scotland going up against the New Zealanders in Pool A.

The 30-year-old Meares equalled Kathy Watt's Australian women's record of seven Commonwealth medals and became the first rider to win a medal at four Games when she retained her title in the women's 500m time trial on Thursday. If Meares can win a medal in the sprint, she will become the first track cyclist to win six golds and also equal New Zealand's Gary Anderson as the most decorated track cyclist at the Commonwealth Games with eight.

After winning the women's 3000m individual pursuit, Joanna Rowsell returns to the track to compete in the 10km scratch race along with English team-mates Laura Trott and Dani King. New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven, who claimed bronze in the world championships, will be the man to beat in the men's 1000m time trial. His compatriot Thomas Scully could add more medals to New Zealand's already impressive track haul with the Kiwi favourite in the men' 40km points.

In all there are seven golds at stake in the pool where the battle for the women's 50m freestyle and men's 100m breaststroke gold will dominate proceedings. England's Fran Halsall laid down the gauntlet to Australian 100m freestyle world champion Cate Campbell by qualifying fastest in a Games record time of 24:14sec, just three hundredths of a second ahead of Campbell. Scotland's Ross Murdoch will go for his second gold in the 100m breaststroke after his success in the 200m on Thursday, but will face stiff competition form England's Adam Peaty, who broke the Commonwealth record twice in qualifying.

Another Olympic champion from South Africa, Chad le Clos, will go for gold in his strongest event in the 200m butterfly. Australia's Olympic silver medallist Emily Seebholm looks to retain her Commonwealth title in the women's 100m backstroke, Taylor McKeown and Sally Hunter go for gold in the women's 200m breaststroke and the women's 4x200m freestyle realy are heavy favourites for gold having broken the world record in the 4x100m on Thursday.

The third day of weightlifting sees medals up for grabs in the women's 58kg and men's 69kg categories. The women's event promises to be a battle between England's defending champion Zoe Smith and Michaela Breeze of Wales. Mohammed Hafifi Mansor of Malaysia, a bronze medallist four years ago in Delhi, has the highest weight entry in the men's event, of 310kg, and his 2013 world ranking of 18th is the highest in the category.

BROWNLEE BROTHERS BACK IN ACTION

England's triumphant individual triathletes will be bidding for a clean-sweep when they compete in the sprint distance mixed team relay, an event that makes its Games debut. Brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, gold and silver medallists in the men's individual, head up a team that also includes the gold and bronze medallists in the women's discipline, Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland. Given England's dominance, it seems likely that New Zealand, Canada and South Africa will be left to battle it out for the other two podium places.

Elsewhere, there are five golds available on the last day of the judo tournament. In the women's -78kg division, Gemma Gibbons of England enters as the lone Olympic medallist to compete at Glasgow. Gibbons won a silver medal at London 2012.

Five golds will be decided in the shooting where England's 10m air pistol star Michael Gault attempts to equal the all-time Commonwealth Games record of 18 medals. However, he faces a tough challenge from Indian duo Om Prakash and Prakash Nanjappa.

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