DCSIMG

Glagow 2014 Commonwealth Games: The star athletes

Mo Farah will be among the stars expected to take part at next year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: PA

Mo Farah will be among the stars expected to take part at next year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: PA


  • by Lindsey Johnstone
 

London 2012 saw stars of track, mat and water eclipse celebrities in our national affections, so with our appetite for athletic achievers well and truly whetted, which of our favourites can we expect to see at Glasgow 2014?

While the official deadline for entry for athletes to the Commonwealth Games is not until 11 June 2014, six weeks before the Games kick off, with individual countries’ team selection deadlines falling on various dates between now and then, some of sport’s biggest names have nonetheless declared their intention to appear and thrown down the Commonwealth gauntlet.

Usain Bolt

With six Olympic golds and eight World Championship wins under his belt, the Jamaican with the lightning legs is regarded as the best sprinter of all time. But he is yet to add a Commonwealth medal to his collection – and the 27-year-old last week stated his intention to remedy that, saying at the London launch of his autobiography Faster than Lightning that he would love to come to Glasgow: “I have said to my coach that I would love to go to the Commonwealths. It’s something that I haven’t done before. It’s up to him, but I have said to him that I want to be a part of it.”

Bolt was due to run at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, but had to pull out with a hamstring injury. He took the Olympic gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100m in Beijing in 2008 and in London last year, and plans to do the same at Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games, which would make him the first sprinter to win the Olympic 100m three times in a row. Bolt had planned to retire after Rio but added that he was reconsidering that decision, saying: “I think my fans especially have really voiced their concern about me retiring. They think I should carry on and so do my sponsors. I have discussed it with my coach and he says it is possible. We will see what happens but I think it’s on the cards that I will extend it by one more year.”

Tom Daley

The boy who ignited a hitherto-dormant national interest in diving, along with a million teenage crushes, when he took the bronze for Team GB in the 10m individual event at London 2012, has been signed up as a Glasgow 2014 Official Ambassador; one of a group of sports stars and celebrities (including Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington and Billy Connolly) called on to whip up pre-Games excitement. Daley started diving at the age of seven and was the youngest competitor to reach a final at Beijing 2008, and won two golds for England at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.

He’ll be hoping to repeat that success at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool, venue for Glasgow 2014’s diving events and the scene of Daley’s victory in April 2013’s Diving World Series, of which he said: “I want everyone to get behind the games and all the athletes. It’ll be fun but tough. I have great memories of winning gold in Delhi, so I’m totally focused on training and holding on to my title. In April, I experienced the enthusiasm of Scottish crowds when I won gold at the Royal Commonwealth Pool. I can’t wait to be back there next year and go for gold again.”

Bradley Wiggins

The presence of Britain’s favourite mod, and cyclist, Sir Bradley Wiggins, would confirm cycling as one of the Games’ hot tickets alongside athletics and swimming, even without the now-retired Sir Chris Hoy racing in the velodrome named for him. Besides track cycling, where Wiggo began his career, there will be an individual time trial, of which he is reigning Olympic champion, and a road race on the streets of Glasgow. Wiggins claimed the 2012 Tour de France, the first Brit to do so, as well as BBC Sports Personality of the Year and a knighthood.

He has confirmed his desire to compete in Glasgow, saying: “From a Commonwealth perspective, it’s a bit like a mini-Olympics, it gets a lot of television coverage. And it is in the UK. I’d love to go back there and try to win a Commonwealth gold just to add it to the collection more than anything. Whether I do the time trial or the track events I don’t know, but it is certainly something I’d love to be part of.”

Nicola Adams

Most recently the subject of media attention as one of ‘Britain’s Leading Ladies’ alongside Tracey Emin and Helen Mirren in the latest M&S advertising campaign, Nicola Adams MBE is Britain’s most decorated female boxer and a Glasgow 2014 Ambassador. Having boxed since the age of 12, she made history at London 2012 as the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. With women’s boxing making its Commonwealth debut at Glasgow 2014, she aims to repeat this feat by becoming the first woman to win a Commonwealth boxing gold next year.

Adams has declared Glasgow 2014 her ‘main focus’, saying: “It would be really nice to have another history-making medal under my belt and I really want to achieve that next year. I’ve always believed you have to aim high and I’m aiming to try and get gold. A lot of people have taken up the sport and started boxing which is fantastic. It feels fantastic to be able to do so much for a sport that I’m really passionate about and love doing. To think that I could possibly achieve another first again next year is fantastic. It could be another bit of icing to add to my cake.”

Jessica Ennis

Now known as Jessica Ennis-Hill MBE, since her wedding and her call-up from the Queen, track and field athlete Ennis-Hill was arguably London 2012’s poster girl, a role she has also played for Olay, British Airways, Santander, Adidas, Jaguar, Aviva and the Coca Cola-owned Powerade, thanks to a slew of endorsement deals. Picking up golds in the heptathlon for GB at London 2012, the 2010 Barcelona European Championships and the 2009 Berlin World Championships, and in the pentathlon at the 2010 Doha World Indoor Championships, she is the current British national record holder for the heptathlon, indoor pentathlon, high jump and 100m hurdles, and another of Glasgow 2014’s Ambassadors.

In terms of competing in Glasgow next year, Ennis-Hill has said: “There’s a few weeks between the Commonwealths and the Europeans so I definitely think it’s doable. That’s what I’ll be focusing on next year. I’m trying to focus on the now and get this season started but the Commonwealth Games are something I’m looking towards.”

Robbie Renwick

Scottish swimmer Renwick will have a home turf advantage if he qualifies for Glasgow 2014, as he trains at Tollcross, the venue for the Commonwealth swimming events next year. Aberdonian Renwick, who aims to retain his Commonwealth 200m freestyle title, said: “I train here every single day, so it’s fantastic from my point of view. I know this pool inside out, it’s absolutely great and I think my training is really going to step up leading into the Commonwealth Games next year and part of that is just having this fantastic facility.”

The freestyler, still a teenager when he made the 200m final at Beijing 2008, will be hoping to improve on a performance he admits was disappointing at this year’s FINA World Championships in Barcelona, at which he finished sixth – although that result has still left him top of the Commonwealth rankings. Renwick, who plans to focus on short-course events in Glasgow, said: “There were a lot of positives that came out of Barcelona but at the same time there are a lot of aspects I can work on leading into the Commonwealth season coming up shortly... everything is geared towards Glasgow 2014. I’m never going to be a Michael Phelps and win loads of events but it’s really important for me to try and retain the Commonwealth title. Overall, I think Scotland is in great shape for the Commonwealths. I can’t wait.”

Michael Jamieson

If fellow Scottish swimmer and 2014 Ambassador Jamieson makes it on to the Scottish Commonwealth squad, he’ll be returning to a home crowd. Glaswegian breaststroker Jamieson now trains in Bath but spent six years with the City of Glasgow elite squad at Tollcross. The 24-year-old won silver for GB in the 200m breaststroke at London 2012, and for Scotland in the same event at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Emphasising his desire to repeat this success in his hometown, Jamieson has said: “In this instance it’s as big, if not bigger, than the Olympics Games for me. It’s as close to home as it gets, being at Tollcross, because that’s where I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional athlete.”

Jamieson will have the chance to warm up the pool prior to the Commonwealths, competing at Tollcross in December as part of a European All Star team taking on the USA in the 2013 Duel in the Pool, of which he says: “For me it will be special as it’s being held in my home town of Glasgow and it will be a great opportunity to try the newly refurbished pool ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year. There’s no doubt it will be a very tough event as the USA are the strongest nation in world swimming but with an impressive European team and with the backing of a passionate home crowd behind us we hope to push them all the way.”

Chad le Clos

South African swimmer le Clos became a household name when he beat his hero, the seemingly invincible Michael Phelps, to the touchpad by 0.05 seconds to take gold in the 200m fly at London 2012. His own stunned reaction to his win was almost eclipsed by the delight of his father Bert, whose emotional interview with Clare Balding ensured le Clos’ gold was one of the standout moments of the Games.

Le Clos also won the Olympic silver in the 100m fly (he was beaten to the gold by Phelps), and at this year’s World Championships in Barcelona took gold in both events. At Delhi 2010 le Clos collected two gold, one silver and two bronze medals for RSA, breaking the Games record in both the 200m fly and the 400m individual medley, and while he is yet to speak on the subject of competing at Glasgow 2014, he is widely expected to appear to defend his record times. The real question, however, is will Bert be coming with him? And will the BBC offer him a spot on the sofa?

Mo Farah

Farah’s national treasure status was confirmed on last summer’s Super Saturday, but the London 2012 star has said that he still has plenty to achieve on the track before turning his attention to marathons, as planned: “I’ve still got a long way to go, there are always more things to achieve and when everything’s going well, it’s good to get as many gold medals as you can. I feel like I would like to carry on on the track and then after that go on the road. I’ve never won a title at a Commonwealth Games so it would be good to have another win.”

He is likely to try to repeat his Olympic gold medal victories in the 5,000m and 10,000m at Glasgow 2014, having also done the long distance double at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona and the World Championships in Daegu last year. Farah appears alongside Usain Bolt in Virgin Media’s advertising, and both are expected to appear in a campaign in the run-up to the Glasgow 2014, as the company is a Commonwealth Games commercial partner. On the announcement of this partnership in May this year, Farah (apparently forgetting that he will be competing for England, rather then Team GB) said: “Having Virgin Media’s continued support both personally, and as a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games, is a big boost to athletics. I love competing on home turf and I hope to run in Glasgow in 2014. The Scottish crowd is always very patriotic.”

Hannah Miley

Scottish swimmer Miley is expected to defend her Commonwealth 400m individual medley title in Glasgow. The 24-year-old was awarded the Nancy Riach Memorial Medal at the Scottish Swimming Awards earlier this month, in recognition of her successes over the past year, which have included three medals at the European Short Course Championships and winning the 400m IM at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, beating her own European record in the process. Miley is expected to be selected for December’s Duel in the Pool, giving her a chance to warm up in the Tollcross pool ahead of Glasgow 2014.

While she has admitted disappointment with her performance at this summer’s World Championships in Barcelona, at which she placed fifth in the 400m IM, Miley has said that this will spur her on to success in Glasgow: “It would be awesome because it’s on home soil and we get to experience a home crowd. For me, it’s closer to my heart, and I hope the Scots cheer for me. It’s certainly going to be an exciting time – fingers crossed it’ll all go well and we hopefully bring home a few medals.”

The wildcard: Ian Thorpe

Thorpe is tied with fellow swimmer Leisel Jones as the most decorated Australian Olympian of all time and, prior to the ascension of Michael Phelps, was the world’s greatest swimmer, having won three golds and two silvers at Sydney 2000 and two golds, one silver and a bronze in Athens in 2004. He retired after the 2004 Games but in 2011 announced his intention to make a comeback at London 2012. After failing to qualify, ‘the Thorpedo’ continued to voice his desire to compete internationally again, citing this summer’s World Championships in Barcelona and Glasgow 2014 as his goals. Having sat out the trials for the former, it seems unlikely now that he will show up at the latter.

However, the swimmer himself has not yet explicitly ruled out an appearance at the 2014 Games, despite publicly stating that he will no longer be aiming for Rio 2016, and plans to continue training under Russian coach Gennadi Touretski in Switzerland “indefinitely”. If he isn’t in the pool in Glasgow, he may well be alongside it, after a well-received stint in the BBC commentators’ box at London 2012.

 

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