26 July 2014
The XX Commonwealth Games got underway in Glasgow earlier this week, with the athletics programme starting tomorrow, Sunday 27 July. It is yet another major event to be held in Britain after the success of London 2012, and many British athletes, competing for the home countries, will be hoping to achieve their golden moment in front of the Scottish crowd.
Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford (coach: Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) will go for gold again after recovering from a minor knee problem which he picked up two weeks ago at Hampden Park as he warmed up for the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix. He will hope for no similar ill fortune when his campaign gets underway at 10am on Tuesday 29 July. Come 6.45pm on Wednesday 30 July he will have his sights firmly set on upgrading the silver medal he won in Delhi four years ago to gold in Glasgow.
2006 Commonwealth Games 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) will only compete in the 4x400m relay this time round, but the England team she is likely to anchor will be aiming for gold, with the Jamaican quartet posing the strongest challenge.
Another senior figure on the England team is Paralympic discus silver medallist Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards). Greaves has been in phenomenal form all year, improving in each of his five competitions so far. However earlier this month he ramped things up a notch, breaking the world record as he went beyond the 60 metre mark for the first time in his illustrious career. Non-the-less, this will be the Charnwood AC man’s first Commonwealth Games, and he commented:
“It’s a massive competition and like any major competition I’m going into it just trying to do my best. I’ve been in the form of my life this year and to get over the 60 metre barrier was a massive boost in confidence, but at the same time I’ve just got to try and enjoy it. There’s been so much pressure over the years to try and win everything but as long as I do my best that should hopefully be enough.
“It feels like we’re in Spain at the moment which is a bonus – I was expecting wind and rain! The whole village has an amazing look and feel to it and Hampden Park feels really intimate too. I’m just hoping for a good performance in front of a home crowd.”
That men’s F42/44 discus final takes place at 10am on Monday morning, and competing alongside Greaves will be Team Wales captain Aled Davies (Anthony Hughes) who holds the world record in the F42 category after a 49.08 throw in Italy earlier this year.
Team England is made up of a whopping 129 athletes in total, 42 of whom have previous Commonwealth Games experience. Amongst those 42 is Delhi silver medallist William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz), who will go in as one of the favourites in the men’s 110m hurdles after his victory at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix. Six-time Paralympic champion David Weir (Jenny Archer) will compete at his first Commonwealth Games in the T54 1500m where he will look to add another gold medal to his illustrious collection. He will face tough competition from Australia’s Kurt Fearnley and Canada’s Josh Cassidy so the race could be one of the significant moments of the Games.
Team Scotland will be hoping to win their first athletics Commonwealth Games gold since the 1994 Games in Victoria, Canada. Leading the charge will be Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), and she’ll hope to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Yvonne Murray and Liz McColgan as she goes for gold in the women’s 400m hurdles. She will face strong competition from the Jamaican’s, particularly Kaliese Spencer who is the Diamond race leader this year. After winning silver in the 400m hurdles in Delhi 2010, Child will hope to use the Hampden roar to her advantage this time round – her final is on Thursday 31 July.
Team Scotland has strength in depth in its largest ever team, with a number of those included getting a taster of Hampden Park just two weeks ago. Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) took full advantage of the opportunity, running personal best of 3.35.06 and 3.35.49 respectively. Both men will line-up over 1500m again, alongside Team England’s Sainsbury’s British champion Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg); any of them could feature on the podium if they get their tactics right on the final day of the athletics programme.
O’Hare made the IAAF World Championship final in Moscow last year, and of that experience said:
“I’m coming into the Commonwealth Games knowing how to deal with a major championship set up. Also, having already run at Hampden Park at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, I have already been through that process.”
Of his Hampden Park experience two weeks ago the Edinburgh AC man added:
“The crowd were amazing – I think they gave me a bit of adrenaline a little too quickly! I came up on the shoulder of the leaders with 300m to go and I got a bit excited and went too early maybe. However that is part of it and you have to learn to deal with the crowd and not let them influence your moves. I know I’ll have to learn that for the Commonwealth’s because it’s going to be significantly louder then. I need to use the crowd but make sure I use them to my advantage.”
Other Scots athletes with strong medal chances include Susan Partridge (Steve Jones) in the marathon, Libby Clegg (Keith Antoine) in the T12 100m and Sammi Kinghorn (Ian Mirfin) in the T54 1500m.
The women’s middle distance events are all set to see a mighty battle unfold between England and Scotland. The women’s 1500m will see a clash between Sainsbury’s British champion Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) who recently recorded a personal best of 4:00.17, and Scottish favourite, Laura Muir (Andy Young) who also ran a personal best at the Paris Diamond league of 4:00.07. Furthermore, in the women’s 800m, European Champion Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) will fly the flag for Scotland having with Jess Judd (Rob Denmark) her biggest challenger from England; both women have gone inside the two minute barrier twice already this year.
Team Wales will go into the Games in Glasgow with high hopes after winning five athletics medals in 2010. Dai Greene (Arnold), the reigning 400m hurdles champion will return from injury to defend his title. He will face strong competition from England’s Niall Flannery (Nick Dakin) who has run 48.80 this year as well as Trinidad and Tobago’s world champion, Jehue Gordon. Hammer thrower Carys Parry (Adrian Palmer) will have her work cut out as she tries to back up her silver medal from 2010; Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) is the British athletes to watch in that one. If he gets it right on the day Lee Doran (Chris Watts) could spring a surprise in the men’s javelin, whilst in the disability events Olivia Breen (Tawiah-Dodoo) should be in the mix for a medal in the women’s T37/38 long jump.
Team Northern Ireland’s Zoe Brown (James Alexander) will compete for a place on the podium in the women’s pole vault having made great strides in 2014 improving her personal best to 4.44m. One of her main competitors in that competition is likely to Sally Peake (Scott Simpson) of Wales, who vaulted 4.40m at Hampden Park two weeks ago. Paul Pollock finished twenty first in the marathon at the World Championships in Moscow last year and will hope to be in the mix over 10,000m, whilst visually-impaired Paralympian Jason Smyth will compete in the able-bodied 100m and 4x100m.
Jersey has a good chance of winning their first ever athletics medal at a Commonwealth Games through Zane Duquemin (John Hillier). The Sainsbury’s British champion in the discus will have two opportunities to get on the podium, as he also lines up in the shot put. Not to be outdone, his sister Shadine (Hillier), who is a GB & NI junior international herself will also be competing for Team Jersey in the discus, making it a family affair for the Duquemin’s in Scotland.
Guernsey hasn’t won a medal at the Commonwealth Games since 1994 and will rest their hopes on Kylie Robilliard (Simon Wombwell) in the 100m hurdles. After Lee Merrien’s withdrawal from the marathon a few weeks ago, Guernsey will now take just a trio of athletes to the Games.
The Isle of Man are one man better off, with four athletes heading north to Scotland. Keith Gerrard (Art Acevedo) has recovered from a long term knee injury and hopes to double up over the 5000m and 10,000m, whilst teammate Olivia Curran (Henrietta Paxton) will compete in the women’s pole vault on the final day of competition at Hampden Park. Incidentally her coach competes in the same event for the home nation.
Full live coverage will be available across the BBC for the duration of the Games, but we will also be at Hampden Park to keep you up to speed with how the British athletes fair.