By Nick Butler at Strathclyde Country Park

Jodie Stimpson sprints to the first gold medal of Glasgow 2014 ©Getty ImagesEnglish star Jodie Stimpson won the first gold medal of Glasgow 2014 here this afternoon with a superb victory in the women's triathlon, after a superbly contested race under blue skies in an electric atmosphere.

If there was any doubt that the crowd support here in Scotland's second city would be as emphatic as it had been two years ago at the London 2012 Olympic Games, that fear was put to bed in the very first event today as thousands of fans lined both sides of Strathclyde Loch.

With the clouds having cleared and the sun having come out by the time the 30 athletes entered the pontoon, the conditions seemed more akin to those in a triathlon on the Gold Coast than in Glasgow, and this only made the spectators more engrossed.

And the crowd appeared as knowledgeable as they were enthusiastic as they cheered on every athlete in the field, regardless of nationality, in what proved to be an pulsating race.

After a lead pack of six was eventually whittled down to the three medal winners halfway through the 10 kilometre run, which came after 1.5 kilometre swim and 40km bike sections, Stimpson broke clear with less than 400 metres to go to take the biggest victory of her career. 

The 2013 World Championships Series runner-up finished ahead of two surprise packages, in Canada's Kirsten Sweetland and Stimpson's compatriot Vicky Holland.

Two of the big favourites, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand and Emma Jackson of Australia, finished in fourth and fifth place respectively.

It was almost the perfect start for the England team at Glasgow 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesIt was almost the perfect start for the England team at Glasgow 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

Stimpson was always one of the favourites for the gold medal, particularly after the withdrawal of Wales' reigning world champion Non Stanford, and her team mate Helen Jenkins, the former world champion in 2008 and 2011, through injury over recent weeks. 

But living up to a favourites tag is always easier said than done in a sport as gruelling as triathlon.

After a fierce pace was set by the third member of the England team, Lucy Hall, who led after the swim and at one point held a 32 second lead on the bike, Stimpson timed her effort to perfection.

"It's just overwhelming," the 25-year-old told BBC Sport afterwards.

"All my family's here and for them to get to be part of it with me is fantastic.

"We're a really close team out there and to get another England girl on the podium is fantastic too."

The England team will have a big opportunity to achieve more success this afternoon, when London 2012 Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee toes the line in the men's race, along with his younger brother, Jonathan, the winner of the 2012 world title as well as the Olympic bronze.

Richard Murray of South Africa is set to provide the toughest challenge. 

And if the men's race proves as thrilling, it will mark the perfect advertisement for the sport of triathlon, just as it will be for the spectacle, atmosphere, and sporting-quality of Glasgow 2014.

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