Try really hard and you might just about mistake Portobello Beach on a sunny Tuesday in April for Australia’s gloriously- named Gold Coast. Imagination is a wonderful tool. But with exactly one year to go until the start of the Commonwealth Games on the other side of Planet Earth, Lynne Beattie was finding it easier than most to let the mind drift to a year ahead and a little less breeze than was felt yesterday on Edinburgh’s once-majestic promenade.
With the full programme for the 2018 jamboree unveiled Down Under overnight, it was confirmed that Beattie’s sport of choice, beach volleyball, was among the fresh inclusions along with women’s rugby sevens and a record quotient of seven para-sports, including bowls and triathlon in which Scotland will harbour strong medal hopes.
Australia has already been kind to Beattie and her veteran partner Mel Coutts this winter after the pair took a maiden victory in a leg of the World Tour in Sydney. “A lot of people were surprised not just back here but in other countries too,” she admits. It bodes well for earning a return trip next April, especially with Commonwealth Games Scotland acknowledging some time ago that they will need to take a smaller squad to Queensland than the overly-fattened group that played host at Glasgow 2014.
Currently ranked seventh within the Commonwealth, the Scottish duo will need to leap into the top four to guarantee a berth. There is always work to be done, admits Beattie, who captained the British volleyball team at the 2012 Olympics in London. The significance of their mission is clear in their website – goingforgoldcoast.com – where the prominence of raising sponsors and assorted backers is symptomatic of a sport where money is tight, more so since UK Sport cut it adrift in its elitist quest.
“We are always working hard,” she confirmed. “We are self-funding and a lack of funding won’t stop us achieving what we want to achieve. We’re working hard to recruit a team of volunteers that can help us get to where we need to be. Yes, it would be great to have some funding and we will hopefully get that but we need to show we can do it.”
It means picking and choosing tournaments to suit the available budget, she says, gambling on the returns that will come both in prizes and ranking points. “For the remainder of the summer we have different tactics: ‘If we have this much money, we can do this tournament.’ There’s no set programme of events which is why we’ve created this team around us because we don’t want money to be a reason we can’t achieve our goals.”
The same, to an extent, applies to Commonwealth Games Scotland with some sports, badminton most notably, expressing fears that the impending cuts in their cash support from government will dent the chances of contributing to what team chiefs hope will be the largest-ever medal haul on foreign soil.
CGS too, despite a concerted drive to engage the corporate world, must await funding news of its own. “We’re grateful for what we receive,” its chief executive Jon Doig said.
“And what we get, we’ll use very well. More money is very useful but 12 months out from the Games, a lot of the programmes are set. Once we know what the final funding package is from Sportscotland, we’ll sit down with the sports.”
For most, their resources are increasingly channelled towards Olympic and world success rather than the staging post of the Commonwealths. Rightly so. But for those like Beattie who can be assured of a golden coastal spectacle should they go to Australia, the endeavour needed to qualify will be worth the effort.
“I love multi-sport events and the chance to represent Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games is a dream come true,” she enthused. “You can feel the excitement building and it reminds me of London 2012 and being part of one big team, something bigger and hopefully creating a legacy of sport for this country.”