23 Jul

Glasgow Glories Await

Lynsey Sharp

And so the UK has another sporting spectacular to enjoy for the next two weeks with Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games.

Whilst it would be unfair to burden the same expectation on Glasgow as we did for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, the coming fortnight will undoubtedly still create many memories to savour.

With Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Bradley Wiggins all set to compete, the Glasgow Games will have a world-class thread running right through its tartan. But the Commonwealth Games has always been more about new stars emerging, as well as turning the spotlight on those plucky, hard-working amateurs unlikely ever to become Olympians, but who are striving for their own pinnacle.

Here’s a run-down of some of the running events worth keeping an eye on:

WOMEN’S 800M
Scotland’s big hope is Lynsey Sharp. The host nation has not had a Commonwealth gold medallist on the track since Yvonne Murray in the 10,000m in 1994. But it will be a big ask for the Edinburgh athlete in the face of a mighty Kenyan challenge. From England, the emerging Jessica Judd and vastly experienced Jenny Meadows will add spice to a tasty brew.

MEN’S 800M
Arguably the highest quality race in the whole of the Commonwealth track and field programme. Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha has already secured his position as one of the modern day greats of the sport, but in Botswana’s Nijel Amos he has a genuine rival. The 20 year old won silver at London 2012 and has got the better of Kenya's Rudisha this season. It will be fast and furious.

MEN’S MARATHON
England’s Steve Way qualifying for Glasgow is possibly the feel-good running story of the year. In 2000, he was a 16 and a half stone smoker addicted to takeaways. This year, he was the third Brit at the London Marathon behind Olympic champion Mo Farah and European silver medallist Chris Thompson. He may not win gold, but he is the champion for club runners everywhere.

MEN’S 1500M
If people are asked what the golden era of British athletics was, they would most likely mention Coe, Cram and Ovett. Despite the achievements of Farah, Ennis and others in recent years, huge reverence is still given to the time when British athletes dominated middle distance running. If GB is struggling to produce discus throwers, little fuss is made outside the throws circle, but when our milers are struggling, that is a debate in which the wider public become involved. It is far too early to say whether Scotland’s Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman and England’s Charlie Grice have what it takes to contend at the very top level. But Glasgow will be an important stepping stone for this highly talented trio.

MEN’S 5000M & 10000M
On the face of it, the Commonwealth Games is small fry to double Olympic and double World champion Mo Farah. But after a disappointing marathon debut in London in April, a season interrupted by injury and illness and Commonwealth gold being the only notable absentee in his treasure chest of medals, there is plenty of intrigue around the running superstar’s appearance at these Games. It will be no easy task either. Whereas some events on the athletics programme are significantly weaker than world level, the strong Kenyan presence ensures this is not the case for the endurance events. Hampden will be hoping to see the Mo-bot, but it is by no means guaranteed.