Scots must look Sharp for 2014

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“Follow that, Glasgow!” might well be the feeling after an Olympic Games which, though never perfect, surpassed expectations in so many ways.

In terms of sheer athletic achievements on the track, in the velodrome and on the water, London 2012 will be difficult to match in future Olympic celebrations let alone at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Four world records before 80,000 people crammed into the main stadium have set a target which must daunt even Rio 2016, though the Brazilians will doubtless bring their own unique blend of cultural charm to the proceedings to make the Games memorable.

Similarly in the velodrome, where seven world records were set.

How Glasgow 2014 must be hoping that Sir Chris Hoy postpones retirement for two more years, even if he has to be lifted on and off his bike.

And what can be done to ensure that wonder man Usain Bolt, who did not go to Delhi 2010, attends and competes in the sprints in Glasgow?

The successful commercial packaging of the Games might well depend on it and, if so, will deals need to be struck, not just with Bolt but with Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis as well?

Television will want them and the public will want them, particularly with no home heroes to cheer. With the best will in the world, I cannot see many would-be winners among the current crop of Scottish athletes.

We are talking about an event which takes place the season after next, with only one full season in between.

In fact, the qualifying period for the marathon, for example, begins in just over four months.

Scotland supplied five members of Team GB in athletics, all female, and one of them – Lee McConnell, who reached the 400 metres semi-final – may already have run her last race as she intends to retire after an international career spanning three Commonwealth Games.

Freya Murray, Eilish McColgan, Eilidh Child and Lynsey Sharp will hopefully all continue and improve.

Like McConnell, Murray is getting married soon but, at the age of 28, may only now have found her true event to be the marathon.

First Briton in 44th place in London, where she came in as a late substitute for Paula Radcliffe, Murray could be a potential podium placer by 2014.

Two more years could see McColgan progress from also-ran in the Olympic steeplechase to a genuine medal contender at a Commonwealth Games, but all of our endurance athletes will face tough opposition from Africa in the distance events.

Lennie Waite and Emily Stewart, third and fourth ranked in UK for the chase, should also have improved substantially by then.

By far the strongest event for Scotland in UK terms is the women’s 1500 metres, where we have seven athletes in the top 20 including, of course, fifth-placed Steph Twell, a bronze medallist in Delhi 2010, who was so unlucky to pick up a serious ankle injury running in Belgium the winter before last and was unable to recover her best form in time to claim her place in London.

Twell, who celebrated her 23rd birthday last Friday, is a resilient athlete, however, who has already done well even to get back to her current level, given the nature of the compound fracture she suffered, and given time should get back to her former fitness.

McColgan is ranked 13th in this event, Claire Gibson 15th, Morag MacLarty 16th, Amy Campbell 17th, Laura Muir 19th and Emily Stewart 20th and more than one of these are capable of having a breakthrough year next year.

Pitreavie’s Eilidh Child, it must be said, was one of the disappointments of the Olympics, losing her stride pattern in both heats and semi-final and never remotely looking as if she might make the final.

But she has one more race this season at the Aviva Grand Prix at Birmingham on August 26 and hopefully will regain her confidence by then.

A silver medallist in Delhi, Child ought to be one of those looking to step up. But the difference in Glasgow will be that the Games are taking place in July when a full turnout of English athletes, including her great rival, Perri Shakes Drayton, can be expected.

Which leaves Lynsey Sharp, who in my view has real gold medal potential in the 800m.

Whether Glasgow is still a bit soon to realise that is another matter for, given that South Africa’s Olympic silver medallist, Caster Semenya, and former Olympic champion Pamela Gelimo (Kenya) might both be there, she might have to run sub 1:57.00 or even sub 1:56.00 to win.

A fast sub-two minute run before the end of the season either at the Aviva GP meeting in Birmingham or elsewhere would certainly set her up nicely as she goes back into winter training.

I have scarcely mentioned our men and that is because there are not too many on the horizon, though maybe by the next Games in 2018 the picture should be brighter, if that is any consolation.

Best ranked in the UK are hammer-throwers Mark Dry (2nd) and Andy Frost (4th), pole vaulter Gregor MacLean (4th) and our 1500 men Dave Bishop (4th), Chris O’Hare (5th) and Kris Gauson (7th). I expect Tulsa-based O’Hare, still-smarting over his omission from the GB team for the European Championships, to make a further impact at US college level before clinching his Glasgow place.

But the majority of the rest, including high jumpers, long jumpers and the like will have to make significant improvement if they are not to be token players, in the team to make up numbers.

I hope I am wrong!