Scots ready to select biggest team for 2014

THE Scotland team at the next Commonwealth Games could be the biggest ever, as organisers seek to use home advantage to the full. The General Selection Policy for Glasgow 2014 has now been drawn up by Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS), and, while the main qualifying standards will remain high, consideration will also be given to competitors who show they could excel in front of a home crowd.

“We hope it will be our biggest team ever, but it’s about quality, not just numbers,” a CGS spokesperson said. “We aim to ensure that all our athletes will compete with distinction.”

Last year’s track-and-field programme at the Delhi Games provided the perfect example of home competitors rising to the occasion, when an unrated Indian team won the women’s 4x400m relay in front of an ecstatic capacity crowd. The CGS, who have the final say in team selection after athletes are nominated by individual sports, will insist that this example should be a guideline, and that the host nation’s right to more places should not be abused.

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“Following extensive consultation with sports, we believe we have managed to produce a policy that balances the need to perform with distinction, whilst maximising the opportunity of a home Games and ensuring consistency between the sports,” CGS chief executive Jon Doig said. “This will be backed up by sport- specific selection standards to be completed by the end of next year. This is the first milestone in our preparations for Glasgow 2014 and we are delighted that everything is well on track.”

The acceptance of every host-nation place will ensure that Scotland will compete in all 17 sports in Glasgow. In Delhi Scots took part in every sport bar netball, where the women’s team just failed to qualify.

Individual sports have yet to decide on selection criteria, but are due to do so by 15 December. The guidelines will be similar to those followed for the last three Games, with the benchmark being a performance which would have placed the competitor in the top eight, or the top two-thirds, of the field at recent Games, whichever is the tighter.

All individual sports will have a minimum of three Scottish competitors, and athletes who qualify in one event will be considered for inclusion in another where they may have fallen just short of the criterium. Again, the hope is they will produce outstanding performances in what is normally their second event as a result of home support.

The team’s highest medal tally to date came in the last home Games, in Edinburgh in 1986, when 33 were won. Sixteen years earlier, when the Games were also held in the capital, the hosts won 25 medals.

Scotland took 192 competitors to Delhi last year, up on the 173 who travelled to Melbourne four years earlier. The biggest Scottish team at the Games was the 202 who took part in Manchester in 2002.

The selection policy will now be put before the half-yearly meeting of the CGS for ratification on 23 November. The period in which athletes can qualify for the team will open on 15 April 2013.