SCOTLAND’s biggest-ever team for a Commonwealth Games is better prepared than any of its predecessors and on course to exceed its greatest medal tally in Glasgow.
That was the confident claim of Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh as the final batch of competitors was named.
Another 102 athletes were revealed yesterday, taking the total to a record 310. The entire hockey, netball and table tennis squads were announced and more competitors were named in athletics, cycling, shooting, swimming and triathlon.
The final track and field contingent includes European 800 metre champion Lynsey Sharp, world indoor relay silver medallist Jamie Bowie and marathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski, who replaces the injured Freya Ross.
Among the eight new shooters is Seonaid McIntosh, whose sister Jennifer (also in this year’s team) and mother Shirley are past Commonwealth champions. And the squad of 12 netball players includes Gemma Sole, daughter of former Scotland rugby captain David Sole.
Thirteen-year-old swimmer Erraid Davies from Shetland will become the youngest person ever to represent Scotland at the Games, being a year younger than diver Grace Reid was when she competed in Delhi in 2010.
The oldest member of the Scotland team is 58-year-old Margaret Letham who, along with fellow bowler Alex Marshall, will be taking part in her fifth Games.
The management could easily have selected a larger team had they relaxed their selection criteria but, instead, they kept those deliberately tough, with the aim of instilling internal competition for places.
Now, having seen so many athletes rise to the challenge of meeting those criteria, Cavanagh believes the team have the record medal haul of 33 from Edinburgh 1986 firmly in their sights.
“More than 33 medals is quite a challenge, but we’re quite confident,” he said at Stirling Castle. “A minimum of 34 medals is what we’re looking for – it’s really hard to go above that and say where we think the ceiling might be.
“It could be extraordinary. Who knows the impact the crowd is going to have on our athletes? I hope it’s extraordinary, and I think the team is capable of doing amazing things, but it is a tough competitive environment.
“We’ve left no stone unturned for the athletes, the coaches and the sports staff. We really have created a no-excuses philosophy. People are ready to go and well prepared. A lot of them are in the medal zone and it’s now up to them to deliver, and they’re a confident bunch of athletes.”
The complicating factor when it comes to making a precise medal prediction, of course, is the form of other nations. Scotland will not be the only team who are confident of being better prepared than ever. But, while acknowledging that competition will be stiff, Cavanagh expects his athletes to be competitive in all 17 sports.
“We’ve got 58 track-and-field athletes,” he continued. “In the last three Games we’ve won two medals, so they’re obviously looking to better that, but most of the events are very competitive. You’ve got the Caribbean nations in the sprints, the African nations and some of the English athletes in the middle-distance events, so it’s tough. But I know they’re aiming to have their best medal performance for some time.
“We’ve got a number of athletes in what we call the medal zone, but it’s converting those into actual medals.”