DCSIMG

Scotland’s top Glasgow 2014 Games prospects

Eilidh Child.

Eilidh Child.

  • by JONATHAN COATES
 

Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014: DWARFING the 1986 Commonwealth Games with a budget 25 times greater than the £18.3million that almost bankrupted Edinburgh, Glasgow 2014 will, regardless of its measure of success, be the biggest sporting event staged in Scotland.

For the athletes who will wear the insignia of Team Scotland, a group set to number between 250 and 270, there has never been an opportunity like it and there might not be another like it as long as they are involved in their sport.

The challenge for the home team is to exceed the record haul of 33 medals claimed in Edinburgh. As those Games were subject to a mass boycott, that is no easy target. It will be still more difficult to match the record 11 golds won in Melbourne eight years ago. But such is the presence of Scots within the Commonwealth community in sports such as swimming, judo, shooting and bowls that the ‘Home Games’ factor could inspire a surge towards 50 medals.

Team Scotland’s improved performance at the past three Games has been no accident. Millions have been spent on ensuring the country punches above its weight again on home soil this summer, in front of an estimated TV and radio audience of 1.5billion. Today The Scotsman examines how the home challenge is shaping up, across all 17 sports.

AQUATICS

Venue: Tollcross Aquatics Centre (swimming); Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh (diving)

Scottish medal outlook: Hannah Miley (400m individual medley) and Robbie Renwick (200m freestyle) are defending champions and expectation will weigh still more heavily on Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson, right, in the 200m breaststroke. Craig Benson and Ross Murdoch could also muscle in on the glory and the relays are expected to be a further source of success.

Qualifying: Up to three Scots can qualify per event at the Scottish Swimming trials at Tollcross in March. Any holes can be filled at a subsequent meet in Sheffield in April.

ATHLETICS

Venue: Hampden Park

Scottish medal outlook: Eilidh Child leads the way in the 400m hurdles after finishing fifth in the World Championships. European 800m champion Lynsey Sharp will be hard to beat if fully fit; Jamie Bowie and Chris O’Hare offer promise. Hammer thrower Mark Dry has the best prospects in the field and Susan Partridge could interfere with Kenyan dominance of the marathon. There should be medals from Libby Clegg and Steph Reid, among others, in the para-sport events, too.

Qualifying: Twenty-three selections were announced in October, plus a women’s 4x400m relay team. Some of the top athletes, like Sharp and Bowie, have yet to achieve a qualifying mark and further drafts will be named in the coming months.

BOXING

Venues: SECC Precinct (preliminaries); SSE Hydro (finals)

Scottish medal outlook: Too early to pinpoint with so few countries having decided on their selections, but Delhi quarter-finalist Aston Brown reached the last 16 of the 2013 World Championships and Scott Forrest was a World Youth silver medallist in 2012. Amateur still means amateur in Scottish boxing, unlike in some countries where funding allows fighters to train full-time.

Qualifying: Boxing Scotland can pick up to 11 fighters in the 13 divisions (ten male and three female) and qualification points can be earned in various competitions up until 31 March.

CYCLING

Venues: Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome (track); City of Glasgow (road); Cathkin Braes (mountain bike)

Scottish medal outlook: David Millar leads the charge in what he has said might be the last act of his career. On the track, Katie Archibald has brightened the gloom left by Sir Chris Hoy’s retirement but it remains hard to see any of the 12 gold medals on offer going to Scots. Callum Skinner is the other one to watch.

Qualifying: Track and mountain-bike contenders have until 15 May to fulfil the criteria and teams for the road race (six) and time trial (four) will be named after that.

GYMNASTICS

Venue: SSE Hydro

Scottish medal outlook: Daniel Purvis, a team bronze medallist at the London Olympics, and Dan Keatings, a two-time European champion on the pommel horse, have terrific chances. Adam Cox, a bronze medallist in 2006, has come out of retirement.

Qualifying: Scotland’s top gymnasts should have no trouble attaining the points they need to qualify; the challenge is for more than three men and women to form a competitive team so that they can also hunt for medals in packs.

HOCKEY

Venue: National Hockey Centre, Glasgow Green

Scottish medal outlook: Australia tend to leave everybody else squabbling over silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games, but no Scotland team has yet been part of this equation, falling short of the semi-finals. There is a more settled look about the women’s team (ranked 16 in the world) than their male compatriots (24) as they seek to make history.

Qualifying: Sixteen men and women will be picked after the selection window closes on 15 May.

JUDO

Venue: SECC Precinct

Scottish medal outlook: Euan Burton is well capable of gold despite moving up from -81kg to -100kg. Fellow Olympians Sally Conway, Chris Sherrington and James Austin should also medal; the experienced Sarah Clark has yet to confirm her plans. Judo Scotland’s talent factory at Ratho, where Clark and Burton, right, now coach, has produced numerous others who could star.

Qualifying: Up to seven men and seven women can be entered, with a maximum of two per weight. Scots who gain GB selection for April’s European Championships will be strongly favoured, with others picked according to ranking points earned before 30 April and on 2016/2020 Olympic potential.

LAWN BOWLS

Venue: Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre

Scottish medal outlook: As in judo, it is tremendously positive. Alex Marshall and Paul Foster are the standard-bearers in the pairs, but they are two of multiple world champions in what could be the most prolific of all the teams within Team Scotland.

Qualifying: Bowls Scotland will send nominations for five male and five female players to Commonwealth Games Scotland by 5 April. A mixed visually-impaired pair will be selected separately by Scottish Disability Sports as well as a physically disabled three.

NETBALL

Venue: SECC Precinct

Scottish medal outlook: Gail Parata’s Scottish Thistles are venturing into new territory. They are ranked 12th in the world, but the 11 nations ahead of them are all part of the Commonwealth.

Qualifying: Scotland qualify for their Games debut as hosts.

RUGBY SEVENS

Venue: Ibrox Stadium

Scottish medal outlook: There has been no form surge to get excited about, though Scotland competed well against Fiji in a recent World Series quarter-final in Dubai. They may yet inject talent from the 15s squad, but then so will the likes of New Zealand.

Qualifying: Scotland qualify as hosts.

SHOOTING

Venue: Barry Buddon Shooting Centre, Carnoustie

Scottish medal outlook: Jen McIntosh, right, and Jonathan Hammond each won golds in individual and pairs events in Delhi four years ago. In fact, Hammond’s four-medal haul was the greatest by any Scot in a single Games. There is no evidence to suggest a repeat performance can not occur in Carnoustie.

Qualifying: An eight-strong team was named on Halloween.

SQUASH

Venue: Scotstoun Sports Campus

Scottish medal outlook: Alan Clyne and Harry Leitch lost out to Australia in the bronze medal match in Delhi and are confident of going at least one better.

Qualifying: Clyne was picked for the men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles back in September. Leitch, Frania Gillen-Buchert and Alexandra Clark also won early selection.

TABLE TENNIS

Venue: Scotstoun Sports Campus

Scottish medal outlook: The men won bronze at the Commonwealth Federation Championships in Delhi last year, and the women came fourth, but competition will be hotter in Glasgow.

Qualifying: A Scottish men’s team of three and, for the first time, a women’s team of three, have earned selection and will be named in May. Gavin Rumgay still has an outside chance of fulfilling the singles criteria.

TRIATHLON

Venue: Strathclyde Park

Scottish medal outlook: England and Australia are expected to be so dominant as to leave the rest feeding off scraps. But David McNamee has emerged as a force in the ITU World Series and has an outside chance.

Qualifying: McNamee was named in October. Two more men and up to three women can be selected for the individual events by May, and there is scope for two pairs to compete as teams.

WEIGHTLIFTING

Venue: Clyde Auditorium

Scottish medal outlook: It used to be assumed that the Scots chalking their hands on this stage were only there to make up the numbers. The silver medal won by Peter Kirkbride, left, in Delhi changed all of that, and the likes of Georgi Black and Craig Carfray have high hopes.

Qualifying: Aspiring athletes must achieve the qualifying lift in two designated tournaments, one of which must be in 2014. Weightlifting Scotland will nominate up to eight male and seven female lifters in the first week of May.

WRESTLING

Venue: SECC Precinct

Scottish medal outlook: The stated target is one or two medals, and the Scottish Wrestling Association must achieve that to secure funding for the Gold Coast in 2018.

Qualifying: There are seven spots available for men and women and seven different weights. The SWA have reserved the right to stage “wrestle-offs” to decide close calls before making their nominations on 2 May.

 

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