COMMONWEALTH Games selection has been something of a bittersweet experience for Jamie Bowie. The 25-year-old athlete is delighted to be in the team as part of the 4x400 metres relay squad, but disappointed not to be competing in the individual one-lap race.
The qualifying criteria for the individual 400 metres were tough, and Bowie believes there was a good case for easing them in order to give more athletes experience of a big championship – a policy that some other nations have adopted. At the same time, with the European Championships coming up hard on the heels of the Glasgow Games, he knows that missing out on one event on home soil this summer may just enable him to perform to his best slightly later in the season.
“I’m really disappointed not to get the qualifying standard,” Bowie said of the individual 400m. “It’s something I felt I could have done, especially with [the improvements I made] last year.
“There was no leeway with the policy to allow me. I’m naturally disappointed with that but, at the same time, there are some people who have just missed out on the qualifying standard by centimetres or by hundredths of a second. So I’m very fortunate in that I’ve got the relay to be there.
“Each country has their own qualifying criteria – I know England had A standards, B standards and development standards. We’ve got our biggest team, it’s a home Games with a home crowd, and you want to give people the experience in Glasgow – then you never know, in four years’ time in the Gold Coast, they might produce a medal.
“There will be some people on that start line [in the individual 400m] that I know I can beat, because they’re from smaller nations or have been afforded the opportunity to compete by their governing body. As I say, I’m disappointed, because I felt I could have made the step up to the individual standard, but at the same time I’m delighted to be a part of the team.
“It would have been really nice to have given as many people an opportunity as possible. The home crowd are going to be expecting Scottish athletes on the track and, unfortunately, we’re not able to give them one in each event.”
As it is, Bowie came close to not being in the team at all. He and his relay team-mates only recorded a qualifying time at the end of last month, although they did it in style, setting the second-fastest time ever by a Scottish quartet. And, given that Bowie had been on the road for more than a day just to get there following his appearance for Great Britain at the IAAF World Relay Championships in the Bahamas, he is understandably confident that they can go faster yet in more auspicious circumstances.
“It was a bit of a last-minute attempt for us to make the standard. That was a huge sigh of relief. It was the second-fastest a Scottish team had ever run, so we’re now looking for a Scottish record. I think a home crowd can definitely help us achieve that.
“When I came back from the Bahamas I had a 30-hour journey then I went and ran the relay for the 4x400 for Scotland to qualify. So things like that push me physically and mentally to the limits in terms of trying to fit it all in.
“I think we’re ranked ninth in the Commonwealth at the moment. But some of the teams that are particularly strong, especially the Caribbean teams, might not like the Glasgow weather. “Realistically, to make the final, and set a Scottish record in the final – I think that’s probably achievable. But it’s still ambitious.”
The year for Bowie began with a silver medal at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland, as part of the British relay team, and it looks likely to end with his participation in the Europeans.
“It’s a busy year,” he added. “I think there are 12 days between the Europeans and the Commonwealths, so it might be a blessing in disguise not having to do the individual 400 [in Glasgow].”
Above all, though – and despite his disappointment – he feels it is a blessing simply to be included by the Scotland selectors. “I’m just delighted to be a part of the team. As a young teenager if someone looked at me they’d probably have said ‘He’s definitely not going to go to the Games – he might dream about it’. It’s a relief to be able to do it, but a huge excitement at the same time.”