Team Scotland’s track and field athletes get their Gold Coast 2018 campaign underway at the Carrara Stadium on Sunday 8 April with possibly their strongest squad for decades, and a number of medal chances across a range of disciplines.
After four medals four years ago in Glasgow and 2014 medallists Eilidh Doyle, Lynsey Sharp and Mark Dry all returning to the fray, the team will be hoping to do even better ‘down under’. There will be several athletes with hopes of emulating Libby Clegg’s victory in Glasgow, Scotland’s first gold on the track since Yvonne Murray took the 10,000m title at the Victoria 1994 Games.
Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, Eilidh Doyle will hope to lead by example as she takes to the track for the 400m Hurdles and the 4x400m Relay. Having silver in both Delhi and Glasgow, the Olympic, World and European medallist would love to to go one better on the Gold Coast, but knows it won’t be easy.
“There’s a lot more competition this time round,” she said. “There are three Jamaicans, a Canadian and a very good South African, so it definitely isn’t going to be straightforward to win a medal. Off the back of indoors I’ve shown my flat speed is there, so it’s just about getting the hurdling right and running a good race. If I can nail my race then I think I’ll be happy whatever that brings.”
Lynsey Sharp’s 2014 Games also had a silver lining, as she recovered from illness to finish second in the 800m on an emotional evening inside Hampden Park. Since then the Edinburgh athlete has revised her personal best to 1.57.69, but like Doyle will face stiff competition from the likes of Caster Semenya for a place on the podium.
On the field, Mark Dry and Chris Bennett go in the Men’s Hammer, which kick starts the Athletics action on the Gold Coast. Dry won a brilliant bronze four years ago, but since then has had double surgery on his hip. None-the-less both Dry and Bennett have made the Olympics since Glasgow and have thrown over 76 metres, so will be in the hunt for a medal at 14:00hrs (05:00hrs UK time) on Sunday.
At the opposite end of the programme Callum Hawkins and Robbie Simpson will contest the final event of the Games when the Men’s Marathon gets underway on Sunday 15 April. Hawkins was fourth at the London 2017 World Championships last summer and will have high hopes over 26.2 miles next weekend.
Also in action on the roads is World Champion Sammi Kinghorn, as she steps up to the marathon distance on the final day of action. Before that however she goes in the T54 1500m final on Tuesday evening. Other para-athletes in action are Amy Carr and Maria Lyle in the T38 long jump and T35 100m respectively.
The middle distance events have the strongest Scottish representation, Guy Learmonth hoping to improve on a breakthrough sixth place finish in Glasgow four years ago. Jake Wightman will also go in the 800m before returning to the track alongside Chris O’Hare in the men’s 1500m, with both men hoping to mix it with the best in the Commonwealth.
In the women’s events, Delhi 2010 1500m bronze medallist Steph Twell will contest both that event and the 5,000m, as will an in-form Eilish McColgan. Doubling the distance, Beth Potter will complete a historic double when she lines up in the 10,000m on Monday evening, having already finished 12th in the Triathlon and seventh in the Mixed Triathlon Relay at the Games. Lennie Waite also goes in the 3,000m Steeplechase.
Allan Smith, David Smith and Nikki Manson will all contest the High Jump, whilst 18 year old Holly McArthur is in action when the heptathlon that gets underway on Thursday 12 April.
Back on the track Zoey Clark has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 18 months, winning medals as part of the GB 4x400m Relay team at both the World Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She’ll look to go one better than her semi-final place in the individual 400m at the World Championships last summer, as well as forming part of the Team Scotland 4x400m Relay quartet who’ll be aiming to be in the shake-up for medals on the final day of action.