Joy as athletes secure early Commonwealth selection

Edinburgh's Sarah Warnock will compete in the long jump.  Picture: Robert Perry.
Edinburgh's Sarah Warnock will compete in the long jump. Picture: Robert Perry.
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Capital coaches are celebrating the early selection of their athletes for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow 2014.

In all, Scottish Athletics had 23 athletes named by Commonwealth Games Scotland yesterday in the first tranche of home competitors for the Games, with the potential of more being added next April and June, subject, apart from the marathon runners, to their reaching the necessary minimum of two qualifying standards,

High jumpers Emma Nuttall and Jayne Nisbet, long jumper Sarah Warnock, hammer-thrower Susan McKelvie and 1500 metres ace Chris O’Hare are all long-term members of Edinburgh AC and are joined by McKelvie’s partner, Broxburn-based hammer man Andy Frost, Lasswade’s Scottish 800 metres champion Guy Learmonth, South Queensferry’s high jumper Allan Smith, and Newcastleton’s paralympic sprinter Libby Clegg, the last two named both former junior members.

EAC president Moira Maguire, herself a Commonwealth Games high jump medallist in the 1970 Games at Meadowbank, praised the dedication of the successful five and their coaches: “It’s a great tribute to them – they’ve walked through the door as under-13 athletes and will come out the other end in the Games team.

“All five of them have competed through the junior league system and Chris O’Hare, for example, was extremely loyal and rarely missed a match.”

O’Hare – back in the United States at Tulsa University – Nuttall, studying at Trinity Western University in Vancouver and Frost, who still competes for a London club, are all British champions, which is always a good start in earning Games selection and after reaching the World semi-finals in Moscow last month O’Hare was a near-certainty.

But for most of the 23 being picked thus early was a big surprise: “I never thought I’d be pre-selected,” said Warnock, who recently graduated from Queen Margaret University as a radiographer and who, until the very last competition of the season, had been in the shadow of Scottish champion Jade Nimmo (Falkirk), who was also named.

“I think I owe it to a mixture of hard work and belief,” added Warnock, who joins Yvonne Murray (Moody) and Gus McKenzie as Musselburgh athletes who made the Games.

Coached by John and Anne Scott – “I’ve been with them for six or seven years” – Warnock first started with Musselburgh AC. “My first coach was Bob Moxey and he brought me down to Meadowbank.”

Now living in Prestonpans, Warnock will still compete indoors this winter despite her selection as she sees no reason to depart from the system which succeeded this year: “I enjoy it – I love to jump and it would be nice to get a PB indoors.” As for the Games themselves, she insists: “I don’t want to go there for experience – I’d love to make the final.”

Emma Nuttall expressed great relief at the news: “I’m so happy – now I can focus everything on working hard and staying healthy.

“Obstacle one is done – now I’ve got winter training to push me to the next level.”

Learmonth, who finally claimed his two qualifying times late in the season, also expressed his relief: “It’s a big weight off my shoulders – it was a tough season but I had to persevere and hopefully it’s made me much more resilient. I’m going to my first major championships, and I want to have a great Games. I aim to make the final and it’s hard work from now on,” said the final year Loughborough University student.