THE competition is this afternoon, but the real results will not be known until the summer. That was the message from Eilidh Child as she prepared to captain Scotland’s athletics team in their first outing of Commonwealth Games year at the Emirates Arena.
The home team face tough opposition at the Sainsbury’s British Athletics Glasgow International Match this afternoon in the shape of the United States, Great Britain and a Commonwealth Select, and Child believes she and her colleagues are very much the underdogs. But, having said that, she is also confident that no matter how they perform this afternoon, her team-mates will benefit from the experience, and be all the stronger when they compete in the Commonwealth Games at Hampden this summer.
“Don’t expect too much,” Child said. “We’re underdogs and shouldn’t be expected to win the team prize. There are a lot of athletes who haven’t run in this situation before, but it’s a chance for them to run against world-class athletes in front of a home crowd. Some will go on and compete in Glasgow, and it’s about them soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying it, and we might see the main benefits of this at the Commonwealth Games in the summer.
“If you throw some into Hampden without experience of a home crowd it could be very daunting and overwhelming. It will be daunting for those of us who experienced [the 2012 Olympics in] London, so it gives them a little bit of a platform going into Glasgow.”
Fifth in the 400-metre hurdles at last year’s world championships, Child will compete in the flat 400 and then in the 4x400 relay this afternoon. “For myself, I don’t actually know what to expect, to be honest, because the first race of the season is always a funny one,” she continued. “I use it to see where I am.
“You can’t really tell too much with times, but I am expecting to be competitive with the girls. It’s a really tough field, and if I can be in amongst it, that’s what I’m hoping for.”
It will be the first time Scotland have competed in the event, and while Child hopes for a lot of support from the capacity 5,000 crowd, she is sure the Great Britain team will also receive a lot of backing. “A lot of the fans are athletics supporters and will get behind everyone. The public loves Kim Collins and everyone will cheer on him, and there are Scottish athletes in the British and Commonwealth teams too.”
This will be an unusual season for Child, given her great rival Perri Shakes-Drayton has been forced by injury into a long-term absence. The Scot and the Englishwoman have spurred each other on in recent years, but Child believes there is now growing domestic competition. “I’ve not even thought about her not being there yet. It’s strange, as I still expect her to be there and race against me. I won’t be aware of it until the trials – that’s our big head to head. It’s because Perri is there that I’m as good as I am, but I can’t be complacent as I’ve got Meghan Beesley coming up as well. She’s running really well.”
As the countdown to the Games continues the public profile of athletes such as Child and team-mates such as swimmer Michael Jamieson is changing. “People are beginning to know who we are now, and that’s really good. A lot of the time people wouldn’t know who I was, even though I would still have been doing well and winning.”
• The Sainsbury’s British Athletics Glasgow International Match will be televised live on BBC1 from 1.45pm to 4.30pm.