Having competed at the London 2012 Olympics, 18-year old swimmer Craig Benson from Livingston is focusing all his efforts on achieving the qualification standard and selection for another home games; this time representing Team Scotland.
Craig said: “The Commonwealth Games is the only time you can represent Scotland making it a special and unique event. Scots are passionate and having a home crowd cheering me on would be amazing and I can’t wait.”
Benson was part of Scotland’s Commonwealth Youth Games squad at the Isle of Man back in 2011 and has fond memories of his Team Scotland experience to date.
“It was very different to a normal swimming competition as there were team-mates I didn’t know competing in different sports, but we were all there through the common theme of sport. We were only a small team, around a dozen swimmers, but we all got on really well together and there was great camaraderie.”
The support from the home crowd in Glasgow will undoubtedly be incredible and Commonwealth Games Scotland wants the whole country to get behind the team. Having witnessed home support in London, Craig has one clear message for the people of Scotland:
“I think there will be a great family feel to the Games in Glasgow. We are probably not going to see another home Games for a very long time, so be a part of it. It would be an amazing feeling to know you were there when one of us wins a Commonwealth gold medal and does something special. Every single person who gets behind you definitely helps and gets the best performance out of you. So come along and support Team Scotland.”
Craig left school last year but has deferred his place at Edinburgh University to read Accountancy & Finance for a year, to concentrate on swimming and making his mark on the world stage.
“This season my main focus is selection to the World Championships team for Barcelona; the trials are at the end of June. Once I’m in the team I’m aiming to get into my first senior final on the world stage, which will hopefully put me in good stead for next year and the selection trials for Glasgow.”
With Scotland able to boast a number of breaststrokers all contending for just three places, training and final preparation will inevitably be key leading up to the trials next March.
“The qualifying times are all out now so I know what I need to do and who I need to beat. As well as achieving the time you need a top three finish. There could be five or six of us in with a shout; it’s not going to be easy but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
You can follow Craig on Twitter @CraigBenson94
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine