by Craig Wright
Team Scotland have unveiled the latest additions to their squad for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with 25 stars of track and field amongst those confirmed at a press conference at the Stirling Court Hotel this morning.
Glasgow 2014 silver medallists Eilidh Doyle and Lynsey Sharp will once again spearhead the Scottish challenge on track at the Games, which will take place on Australia’s Gold Coast this coming April. However, fellow medal contender Laura Muir will not be part of the team, the University of Glasgow student having stated her intention to prioritise her final year of veterinary studies over travelling to the Gold Coast.
Joining Doyle and Sharp in the squad will be Central Athletics distance runner Andrew Butchart, with the Dunblane athlete looking to make an impact at his first Commonwealth Games following an impressive showing at the 2017 World Championships in London.
With the Gold Coast event also including the largest-ever Para-Sport programme in Commonwealth Games history, Team Scotland have named a strong trio of para-athletes, each of whom will be targeting a place on the podium. Double world champion and Scottish Sportswoman of the Year Sammi Kinghorn is joined in the squad by triple Paralympic medallist Maria Lyle and double Junior World Champion Amy Carr, with the trio boasting an average age of just 18.
There will also be a couple of history-makers in the Team Scotland ranks at the opening ceremony on 4 April: Beth Potter will become the first Scottish athlete to compete in two sports at a single Games, after being selected to compete in the 10,000m while already having earned a spot on the triathlon team, whilst 17-year-old Holly McArthur will become the first heptathlete to compete for Scotland at a Commonwealth Games in two decades.
Speaking at the event, Doyle expressed her pride at being selected to represent her country once more. She said:
“It’s so nice to be part of it. This will be my third Commonwealth Games now – 2010 [in Delhi] was my first, as well as being the first major medal I’d ever won, and it feels so long ago now.
“To be back here with a mostly different team, it feels so fresh, but familiar at the same time.”
The Games will provide a unique challenge to those selected, and since the proceedings will be getting underway earlier in the year than most major championships, training schedules will have to be altered accordingly.
“As soon as we hit the New Year, I’m going to start racing indoors and try to get myself into racing shape for Gold Coast 2018” said Doyle.
“For us, our season doesn’t normally start until May, so we’ve had to readjust slightly. I’ll run the indoor season, then I’ll fly out to Australia and hopefully get a couple of 400m hurdles races under my belt before it all starts, since we can’t run 400m hurdles indoors.”
Rodger Harkins, performance director at scottishathletics, provided an insight into the selection process, as well as praising those selected by Team Scotland.
“I want to offer my congratulations to the athletes and coaches selected. They have really performed well in the past year and made a commitment to the Commonwealth Games and to a Gold Coast event being held in April” said Harkins.
“What we have with this selection is a team with a very high percentage of final contenders. The overall selection policy for Team Scotland was predicted on a top-six finish in each event and taken over the last three Commonwealth Games, including Glasgow 2014.”
The history-making trend will continue away from the athletics stadium, with Scotland’s first ever beach volleyball athletes having their selection officially confirmed this morning. Seain Cook and Robin Miedzybrodzki will look to defy their Commonwealth ranking of sixth to claim a medal, with boxing’s Sean Lazzerini – winner of a box-off to secure his place at the Games – also amongst the 28 athletes unveiled today.
Team Scotland chef de mission, Jon Doig OBE, highlighted the range of experience within the squad as he looked ahead to the Games. He said:
“Congratulations to all selected today, as we welcome a great mix of experienced athletes and those who will be part of Team Scotland for the first time.
“We have a strong tradition of success, right from the first Games, in both athletics and boxing, with results retaining real upward momentum since 2014.
“Beach volleyball, with its iconic relationship with the Gold Coast, will create new traditions, and the recent qualifying success shows Team Scotland will more than hold their own in 2018.”
Further selections will be made in the New Year, with the full team to be announced by 1 March.
Selected athletes, confirmed 12 December
Athletics: Chris Bennett, Andrew Butchart, Mark Dry, Callum Hawkins, Guy Learmonth, Chris O’Hare, Robbie Simpson, Allan Smith, David Smith, Jax Thoirs, Jake Wightman, Amy Carr, Zoey Clark, Eilidh Doyle, Rachel Hunter, Sammi Kinghorn, Maria Lyle, Holly McArthur, Kirsten McAslan, Eilish McColgan, Emma Nuttall, Lynsey Sharp, Kelsey Stewart, Steph Twell, Lennie Waite.
Beach Volleyball: Seain Cook, Robin Miedzybrodzki.
Boxing: Sean Lazzerini.