Twenty five stars of track and field received the perfect start to their festive season, with news of their selection for Team Scotland for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Nineteen of the athletes named today were part of the team that rose to the challenge of a home Games at Glasgow 2014 and, spurred on by a capacity crowd at Hampden, delivered their best Commonwealth Games medal haul for 20 years.
Since that tally of one gold, two silver and one bronze, the sport has gone from strength to strength with a record 15 athletes selected for the Olympic Games and six for the Paralympic Games at Rio 2016. Again at this summer’s home World Championships in London there were 16 Scots on the British team, captained by the inspirational Eilidh Doyle, who will compete for a third successive Commonwealth Games medal over the 400m hurdles in Gold Coast.
Doyle’s fellow Glasgow 2014 medallists, 800m runner Lynsey Sharp and hammer thrower Mark Dry, are also named and aiming to replicate their podium finishes ‘down under’. Glasgow 2014 finalists Chris Bennett and Rachel Hunter will join Dry in taking to the hammer circle, where Bennett will draw on his experience from Rio 2016 and the 2017 World Championships.
One of the leading Scottish performances in that World Championships team came from Callum Hawkins, whose fourth place in the marathon equalled the best ever British performance in the event. He will line up alongside Robbie Simpson, a relative newcomer to the event following success as a mountain runner, including bronze at the 2015 World Championships.
In a strong endurance squad, Andrew Butchart will make his Commonwealth Games debut following top eight finishes at both Olympic Games and World Championships, while Olympians Eilish McColgan, Steph Twell and Lennie Waite form a formidable force in the women’s events.
Fellow Olympian Beth Potter is set for an unprecedented double in Gold Coast. Already named to Team Scotland in Triathlon after a hugely successful change of focus at the beginning of 2017, she will take to the track for the 10,000m following the conclusion of her Triathlon competition. In doing so she will become the first athlete to compete in two sports for Team Scotland at a single Games.
17-year-old Holly McArthur becomes Scotland’s first Commonwealth Games heptathlete for 20 years after completing a ‘full house’ of seven individual event personal bests to reach the qualifying score at the European Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy. Her overall score was her third Scottish junior record in 2017 and, showing exceptional versatility, she capped her performance with a bronze medal as part of the GB 4x400m squad.
Another athlete on the rise in 2017 has been Aberdeen’s Zoey Clark, making a breakthrough over 400m to reach the semi-finals and take silver in the 4x400m at the London World Championships. She will once again run both the individual event and relay in Gold Coast, with Kelsey Stewart and Kirsten McAslan also included in the 4x400m pool.
On the field Team Scotland will be represented by three high jumpers; Allan Smith, David Smith and Emma Nuttall, while Jax Thoirs is selected for his second Games in the pole vault.
The Gold Coast 2018 Para-Sport programme is the largest in Commonwealth Games history and Team Scotland will be well represented on the track. Having broken her own World record to take gold over 200m at the World Para-Athletics Championships in London, going on to take a second gold in the 100m and bronze in the 400m, Sammi Kinghorn steps up in distance to tackle the 1500m and Marathon in Gold Coast. At just 21 years old she is the senior member of a strong Scottish trio in the para-sport events, joined by 17 year old Rio 2016 Paralympic medallist Maria Lyle and 18 year old Amy Carr, who won two gold and a bronze at this summer’s World Junior Championships.
Rodger Harkins, Performance Director at scottishathetics said: “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. I’m really pleased with the application and planning that’s already being shown and has been shown over the past few months.
“When you take in the way Scottish athletes and coaches have stepped up over the past two years – and their involvement in the Olympics in Rio and then London 2017 – then we see the strength and the depth. Here we are seeing that reflected in a Team Scotland selection for athletics.
“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 predicated on a top six finish in each event and taken over the last three Commonwealth Games events – including Glasgow 2014. So immediately that raised the bar in terms of standards from Hampden, because the selection for Glasgow 2014 was based on a potential top eight finish.”
Also confirmed for Gold Coast are boxer Sean Lazzerini, gold medallist for Team Scotland at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games, and men’s Beach Volleyball pairing Seain Cook and Robin Miedzybrodzki.
Lazzerini took a unanimous win over Scottish rival Boris Crighton in a box-off held for the 81kg place on 7 December and will step up into the senior team looking to emulate his Youth Games success.
Fraser Walker, Chief Executive at Boxing Scotland said: “We are delighted that the tenth boxing 2018 Gold Coast team berth has been filled in the 81kg light heavyweight category. The boxers – Sean Lazzerini and Boris Crighton – took on the box-off as Boxing Scotland wanted to ensure it filled the place with the very best athlete.
“A huge thanks must go to GB Boxing for accommodating the bout during its ‘Best of British’ Championships and the contest showed what talent we have at light heavyweight.
“In what was an extremely pressurised environment, Sean won the bout, during which Boris pushed him to the limit, Sean’s addition to the team is brilliant news for Team Scotland’s medal hopes given his previous performance in the 2015 Samoa Youth Games, where he won gold.”
With Beach Volleyball making its debut at Gold Coast 2018, Cook and Miedzybrodzki make history as the first athletes from the sport to be selected for a Commonwealth Games. An impressive win at the official qualifying tournament in Cyprus earlier this year saw them book their place in the 12-team competition, to be held on Coolangatta Beachfront.
Margaret Ann Fleming, Chief Executive at Scottish Volleyball, said: “The 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia has provided Beach Volleyball with a unique opportunity for this performance sport to be showcased. The Scottish Volleyball Association, in partnership with sportscotland and Commonwealth Games Scotland, is delighted that our men’s pair has qualified and will represent Team Scotland at the Games. They are currently are ranked sixth in the Commonwealth and we are confident that the team will compete with distinction.”
Team Scotland Chef de Mission Jon Doig OBE 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 continuing 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.”
Today’s selections bring the total number of athletes named to Team Scotland to 96, following team announcements for Swimming and Lawn Bowls in October and Squash, Boxing, Triathlon, Shooting, Para-Bowls and Weightlifting in November. Further selections will be made in the new year, with the full team due to be announced by 1 March 2018.
Name Hometown / Lives
Chris Bennett Glasgow / Glasgow
Andrew Butchart Dunblane / Dunblane
Mark Dry Burghead, Moray / Loughbourough
Callum Hawkins Bridge of Weir / Elderslie
Guy Learmonth Berwick / Berwick
Chris O’Hare West Linton / Boston, USA
Robbie Simpson Banchory / Banchory
Allan Smith Edinburgh / Edinburgh
David Smith Barrhead / Birmingham
Jax Thoirs Glasgow / Glasgow
Jake Wightman Edinburgh / Hampton Wick, Surrey
Amy Carr Stockton-on-Tees / Stockton-on-Tees
Zoey Clark Aberdeen / Aberdeen
Eilidh Doyle Kinross / Frome
Rachel Hunter Ayr / Ayr
Sammi Kinghorn Middlethird / Glasgow
Maria Lyle Dunbar / Dunbar
Holly McArthur Kilsyth / Glasgow
Kirsten McAslan Edinburgh / Manchester
Eilish McColgan Carnoustie / Manchester
Emma Nuttall Edinburgh / Loughborough
Lynsey Sharp Edinburgh / Loughborough
Kelsey Stewart Stonehaven / Stonehaven
Stephanie Twell Farnbourough / Aldershot
Lennie Waite Paisley / Houston, Texas
BEACH VOLLEYBALL (2):
Seain Cook Perth / Perth
Robin Miedzybrodzki Edinburgh / Loanhead
Sean Lazzerini Glasgow / Glasgow