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May 28, 2017

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South Africa end All Blacks sevens reign, Kenyans on gold run

GLASGOW, Scotland -- South Africa ended four-time Commonwealth Games rugby sevens champions New Zealand's unbeaten 30-match run to take gold Sunday while Kenya grabbed two titles on the opening day of the athletics program.

The Springboks clinched a nail-biting 17-12 final victory at a packed Ibrox Stadium thanks to tries from Seabelo Senatla (2) and Cecil Afrika and a conversion by Branco du Preez.

New Zealand, whose winning streak stretched back to a Jonah Lomu-inspired side that won gold in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, scored two tries through Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber, Gillies Kaka nailing one conversion.

"This feeling is the greatest," said Afrika. "We as South Africans are so proud. Rugby is our national sport, we always strive to be the best in the world.

"The Commonwealth Games is a one-off tournament. As a squad we want to take this forward to the Rio Olympics."

Australia took bronze with a 24-0 win over Samoa.

Kenya's Caleb Ndiku claimed a flamboyant 5000m gold while compatriot Flomena Daniel won the women's marathon title as athletics got under way without headliners Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.

Ndiku, the world indoor 3000-meter champion, made the most of the absence of injury-hit Olympic champion Farah to win the first gold medal on offer at the Hampden Park track.

With his hair dyed gold in expectation of victory, Ndiku triumphed in 13 minutes 12.07 seconds with teammate Isiah Koech claiming silver in 13:14.06.

In the women's marathon, Daniel, the winner in Paris this year, led teammate Caroline Kilel to a convincing Kenyan one-two.

Australian Michael Shelley prevented a Kenyan marathon sweep by producing a stunning final 8 kilometers to win gold with Kenya's Stephen Chemlany in second and Uganda's Abraham Kiplimo taking bronze.

In the blue riband 100 meters, Nickel Ashmeade, part of the gold medal-winning Jamaican 4x100-meter relay team from the Moscow worlds last year, clocked 10.40 seconds to win his heat.

The weight of the Caribbean island's expectations are resting squarely on Ashmeade's shoulders in the absence of Bolt, who will compete solely in the relay in Glasgow after an injury-plagued season.

Adam Gemili of England timed an impressive 10.15 seconds, the fastest qualifying time.

In the women's 100-meter heats, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown looked slick in winning in 11.29 seconds and she will be joined in the semi-finals by teammates Schillonie Calvert, who clocked the same time in nailing her heat, and Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart (11.35).

Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare headed the qualifying times with 11.20 seconds.

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