Two world records for Australia on day one

An opening day at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games which started on the worst possible note for Australia with Sally Pearson succumbing to injury has ended on a dual-world record high.

Sally Pearson announces her withdrawal from the Gold Coast Games due to an Achilles injury.

Sally Pearson announces her withdrawal from the Gold Coast Games due to an Achilles injury.

The men's 4km pursuit team of Leigh Howard, Kelland O'Brien, Alex Porter and Sam Welsford got the ball rolling at the Anna Meares Velodrome, thumping arch-rivals England to win in a world record time of three minutes 49.804 seconds.

That effort was matched later in the night by the star-studded line-up of Shayna Jack, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell who shaved six-tenths of a second off the old mark in the women's 4x100m freestyle.

Australia won a total of five golds - all in swimming and cycling - and 15 medals overall on Thursday to claim second spot on the medals table behind England (six golds, three silvers and three bronzes).

Howard paid tribute to new Cycling Australia high performance boss Simon Jones after the men's team pursuit squad reclaimed bragging rights from England.

"There's definitely been some big changes since he's come on board and we've gone faster, it's as simple as that," Howard said.

The other cycling golds for Australia were delivered in the corresponding women's race and the women's team sprint.

McKeon's audacious bid for six swimming titles came unstuck early on when she could manage no better than third behind Canadian teenager Tyler Ruck and Brisbane schoolgirl Ariarne Titmus in the 200m freestyle.

But McKeon bounced back strongly in the final event of the night, playing a key role in the 4x100m freestyle relay triumph - an event where Australia is unbeaten at the Games dating all the way back to 1994.

Olympic champ Mack Horton claimed the host nation's first gold medal of the 2018 Games with a come-from-behind victory in the men's 400m freestyle.

For many years the distance event was a virtual lock for Australia at Commonwealth level.

But that had changed in modern times, with Horton's victory the first since Ian Thorpe at Manchester in 2002.

"I probably feel more emotion winning here than in Rio because the whole crowd is cheering - that didn't happen so much in Rio," said Horton, who won in 3:43.76 ahead of countryman Jack O'Loughlin.

"Rio is cool. But a home crowd is always going to win."

Jake Birtwhistle won Australia's first medal of the Games - a silver behind South African Henri Schoeman in the men's triathlon.

But the opening day of competition at the 21st edition of the Games was also very much about someone who won't be competing at all.

The 31-year-old Pearson - whose glittering CV includes back-to-back golds in the 100m hurdles at the 2010 and 2014 Games - pulled out of her pet event and the 4x100m relay after her troublesome Achilles flared at training two days ago.

"This has been an ongoing issue for a couple of years now and it is just unfortunate the timing was now," said Pearson, who has long been the public face of her home-town Games.

"I wanted to be able to go to the opening ceremony and enjoy myself, I had a big role to play and that is why I left it until today to announce it.

"I left no stone unturned to get out here and race for Australia."

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