Dame Kelly Holmes believes the Commonwealth Games is an important platform for athletes who are targeting Olympic success at Rio and has backed up-and-coming British talents to break through in Glasgow.
The 44-year-old, who is president of Team England, won 1,500metres gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester before going on to be crowned a double Olympic champion over that distance and the 800m two years later in Athens.
Holmes thinks the next 11 days could help to shape the career of 19-year-old 800m runner Jessica Judd and Scotland’s Laura Muir in the same event, with their prospects looking bright for Great Britain in 2016.
“The Commonwealth Games is a really good platform for anyone who is looking to go to an Olympic Games,” Holmes said.
“That two-week period of understanding what a multi-sport event is like is crucial. Integrating into the village and looking into the dining hall environment, it’s a big learning curve.
“It can be very overwhelming but, because we are split down into seven nations, we’ve got a raft of talent being able to compete that wouldn’t necessarily be able to compete [at an Olympics] so there are new chances and new opportunities for those to break through.
“The 800m is going to be a really competitive event. Along with Jessica Judd, there’s also Laura Muir, who is one of the up-and-coming young talents, and what would be nice is to see how these competitive environments are conducive to our overall global team if you put them all together, and that’s what I’m looking forward to personally.”
Holmes also believes double Olympic and World champion Mo Farah will wow the crowds at Hampden Park despite having an up-and-down season where he has competed in only one track race in the United States and pulled out of the last two he was set to compete in due to abdominal pains.
Farah is set to compete in the 5,000m and 10,000m, events in which he has experienced great success but has never won a Commonwealth medal.
“He’s a double world champion and a double Olympic champion and I don’t think you would write him off,” said Holmes. “He is here and he is entering and he will believe he can win both. The test will come in his first event. He’s got some great opposition and how he gets on in the first event will determine if he competes in the second.”
With sprinter Usain Bolt only taking part in the 4x100m relay and countries who tend to do well at Olympic Games and World Championships absent, the Commonwealths has been dismissed by some as a poor relation when it comes to international events.
However, Holmes said: “Depending on your sport and where you are at in your career, every championship has different importance.
“From an athlete’s perspective, when I used to compete, medals meant everything. So I was there and I did three Commonwealth Games and they were all prior to my Olympic Games.
“There are other sports that don’t have the Olympic Games and this will be their equivalent. Then you have athletes where this is a year that they want to take slightly easier because they’ve had the world championships and the Olympics but Usain Bolt turning up still means something.
“You’ve also got those like boxer Nicola Adams but she’s never won a Commonwealth Games boxing medal because it’s never been in the Commonwealth Games. Gemma Gibbons won [Olympic] silver in the judo. This will be another chance for her to get gold. It’s going to be brilliant.
“There are going to be those jump-off-the-armchair moments and the memories you will never forget and that’s all part of the whole atmosphere that Glasgow will feel.”