A few of Scotland’s athletics team paraded in the spectacular Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the opening ceremony on Sunday night, but it was Lee McConnell that was the first to compete in the venue tonight in round one of the 400m.
Winning her heat comfortably from lane eight in a time of 53.24, McConnell is glad to get the opening round out the way. She said, “The heats are always the most nerve-wracking, not knowing what to do. You don’t want to go out too hard and waste energy so I managed to do ok.”
Asked about any fears she may have about the condition of the venue she confidently replied, “There has been so much negative stuff in the press but it’s all been fine, they’ve pulled it together and it looks good.”
Back at the Village, the squad are all now settled into their daily training regimes and enjoying the Games experience.
Chris Baillie starts his competition on Friday in the 110m hurdles in what will be his third Games. He set a new Scottish record in Melbourne when he took silver and if everything goes to plan, he is pushing to be amongst the top performers once again.
The 29 year old said, “You always want to medal but I’ve had a hard season with a few injuries. I feel as though I keep making comebacks so actually the lateness of the competition is helping me slightly. All my training is going well and if I go into the race and concentrate on the right things then I’ve got a chance. It’s now down to me to make it happen and take that chance. All I can do is my best and if it works then I can’t complain.”
Another of Scotland’s track athletes is 23 year old Eilidh Child who will contest for a medal in the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay.
She said, “My preparations have gone really well, I am just ticking over now with easy training and I start with my heat on Saturday morning. My last race was eight weeks ago and then I started to build into training again. I got a Scottish hurdler Mark Lipton to run some hurdles with me which was great too.”
Tipped for a top spot in the event which she represented Great Britain at the recent European Championships in Barcelona, Child assessed the opposition:
“My main opponents are from Jamaica and Nigeria who run around 54seconds and an Australian girl that runs around 55.2seconds so I expect the four of us to be really fighting for it. If I run to form and PB then I will be happy. The stadium looks really spectacular. So hopefully if it is full and we get a good crowd it will be amazing. The crowd definitely makes a big difference.”
Tomorrow sees the start of the decathlon for Roger Skedd while Steph Twell runs in round one of the 1500m. Friday will see the first finals for Scottish hopefuls and the fans will hoping to be support Baillie, McConnel and Twell on the track in their respective event finals along with Mark Dry and Andy Frost in the hammer before the day wraps up with Freya Murray in the 10,000m final.
Child emphasised the importance and honour of competing for Scotland at the Games. “This is the only major event that you can run for Scotland so that is really special for us. The Scottish team get on really well so it is nice for us to have our little intimate team where we all work together.”
Baillie agreed saying, “We’re really gelling well and everyone has settled down and having lots of laughs.
“Getting to come to such a big stage and compete for Scotland is special and it brings the best out of you. Putting on a Scottish vest and having the support of the entire Team Scotland behind you and getting the atmosphere from the other sports is really amazing. When you see them start to win medals, it gives you that added boost.”
The team are set for an exciting week of competition and there are several Scots to follow closely over the coming days who are gunning for a place on the podium in Delhi.