Jamie Bowie looks ahead to Glasgow 2014

ALL eyes will be on Glasgow this time next month but, this weekend, the focus for many Scots athletes is shifting south to Birmingham, and the Sainsbury’s British Championships. This year the three-day event doubles up as the trials for the European Championships, and my aim is to replicate – or surpass – the 
results I had last year, when I was selected for the Great Britain relay squad for the IAAF World Championships.

Jamie Bowie earned a Great Britain relay callup at Birmingham last year. Picture: Tony Marshall/Getty

I’ve had a hard block of training for the past three weeks, since the Scottish relay squad got the qualifying time for Glasgow, which will be for the three rounds of the 400 metres on the three days – starting on Friday evening. In the heats the aim is to qualify comfortably and get a good draw for the next round, and the same is true of the semi-finals. You can’t think too far ahead, though, and have to ensure you focus properly on each race as it comes.

I was fifth in the 400m last year, and it was that placing that led to me being selected for the World Championships. I hope to prove my worth to the selectors again this year, though one difference from 2013 is that they have more time before finalising the team for the European Championships, whereas last year selection came more or less immediately after the trials.

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My form this early in the season has been encouraging, but I can’t afford to presume that I’ll simply remain a part of the relay squad no matter how I run. Last year I was an outsider who broke into the squad on form, and I fully accept that someone else from outside the squad who runs particularly well could deserve to be called up this year. I just have to 
ensure that it’s not at my 
expense.

Of course, the relay is about more than just individual speed, so selection is not simply a question of picking the fastest few. There’s a team dynamic
element in addition to the ability to run a leg on your own.

It’s that team element that makes me feel the relay is easier in a sense, and more enjoyable, than the individual 400. The pressure is shared among the squad of six, although only four may actually run. In the individual event everything is a lot more cut-throat.

What I’ve found so far is that being involved in the 4x400 is a very good way of getting experience of a major championships. But I want to be more than just someone who takes part in relays, even though some of our best athletes – Lee McConnell, for example – are renowned for being great relay runners. I’ve still got time on my side and I want to make my mark in the individual 400 – as I aim to prove this coming weekend.

After Birmingham, attention will shift back to Hampden, where first the Sainsbury’s British Grand Prix, and then of course the Commonwealth Games, will be held next month. I had a chance to visit both the athletes’ village for the Games and Hampden itself last week, and was very impressed by what I saw at both. I was invited to tour the village, and took my boss from East Lothian Council and enjoyleisure along with me as a thank you for all the support they’ve given me – especially the flexibility and leave I have been allowed in my job for the World Championships, qualifying for the Commonwealth Games, as well as the Games themselves.

We’re not going to spend a particularly long time in the village as athletes tend only to come in for a couple of days before their event. And as the 4x400 is one of the last events, it might be a lot quieter then than it is likely to be at the height of the Games. Nonetheless, it was good to see how well organised everything is.

As for Hampden, I had been there before – to see Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a Scottish Cup semi-final, against Dundee if I remember correctly, back in the days when I was a far keener football fan than I am now. It was the Scottish Schools championships there last week, and I was there towards the end of one session. There were not very many people around by that time, but even so, you could hear the voice of the stadium announcer all the way round, and that gave you some idea of what the place will be like when it is packed.

The warm-up track is at Lesser Hampden, and that was really impressive in itself. My overall impression was that Hampden does not look at all like a football stadium trying to accommodate an athletics track. It looks the part now, and there is a sense of grandeur about it. I cannot wait to step on to that track on 1 August and hear that Hampden roar!