Scots start building for medals at 2014 Games

One year and a week from the Commonwealth Games and the man who will lead Scottish athletes into Hampden is confident medal prospects are on the rise.

Irishman Stephen Maguire, the scottishathletics director of coaching, will take charge of track and field on behalf of Commonwealth Games Scotland.

And a tally of 14 medals for Scots at the Sainsbury’s British Championships in Birmingham over the weekend – coupled with two more at the Euro Under-23s in Finland – give him reasons to be cheerful.

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Six Scots claimed gold at the Alexander Stadium to earn the right to call themselves “British champion”, with fine performances from Eilish McColgan (3000m steeplechase), Steph Twell (5000m), Chris O’Hare (1500m), Andy Frost (hammer), Andrew Lemoncello (10,000m) and Emma Nuttall (high jump).

In Finland, Laura Muir (1500m) and Allan Smith (high jump) each claimed bronze medals for Team GB & NI at the Euro Under-23s – with three other Scots competing in finals.

“I think we can say now for sure that there is more hard evidence of our athletes performing well,” said Maguire.

“What is heartening us is that the number of people stepping up to the mark at events like a British Championship has grown. We’ve people now who are not afraid of competition.

“There are more contenders now with 14 medals and probably another ten or so who finished fourth or fifth place in Birmingham. So that’s 20-25 athletes who finished in the top five at the British Championships.

“Jamie Bowie ran 46.11 for another PB and, over in Finland, Allan Smith had a PB in the Euro U23 high jump at 2.26. Emma Nuttall, too, did very well to win gold in Birmingham with a 1.87m PB.

“We are still one year out so we cannot be complacent. But there are signs people are headed in the right direction and when the Commonwealth Games come around they will be ready to compete.

“To win 14 medals with six gold was very encouraging and we want to see that transferred into medal chances at Glasgow 2014. That’s more than a dozen athletes who need to think they can get in the medal zone for Glasgow.

“Hampden will be a big ask for Scottish athletes. There will be big crowds and media interest. There will be pressure because you are representing Scotland and wearing the vest. Coping that and delivering will be a big issue – and will need the right mental and physical preparation. And that process has already started.”