Relay role gives Josh Taylor a Commie Games buzz

PROUD MOMENT: Josh Taylor, left, carried the Baton through Prestonpans (Getty)

PROUD MOMENT: Josh Taylor, left, carried the Baton through Prestonpans (Getty)

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Lochend boxer Josh Taylor’s part in the Queen’s Baton Relay has only fuelled his desire to be crowned Commonwealth champion in Glasgow next month.

The 23-year-old was afforded the honour of parading the baton – travelling the length and breadth of the country prior to the Games’ opening ceremony at Celtic Park on July 23 – through the streets of his home town of Prestonpans on Tuesday in front of hundreds of local residents.

Having lapped up the occasion, Taylor, who won silver at his debut Games in Delhi in 2010, will now shift his focus fully to going one better in the 64kg category on home soil.

Taylor, pictured, told the Evening News: “I ran along the High Street and everyone came out to see me. I really enjoyed it and it was a proud moment with so many people wishing me all the best for the Games.

“I got to run an extra 200 metres as the person who was meant to take it off me couldn’t make it so I ran 400 instead. You can really feel how close it is now. I remember saying just before the Scottish Championships that the Games were months away and now it’s a matter of weeks. It’s just flown in.”

If the baton relay wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, Taylor was also a guest on the Royal Yacht Britannia, where he was treated to a champagne reception within the company of a host of past and present athletes.

“Monday night was really enjoyable,” he said. “We had a really good talk about the Games and I got the chance to meet some of the other athletes who will be representing Scotland.

“Alex Arthur was there with his wife Debbie. My old team manager Tom Brown and Dick McTaggart were also thers, so it was good to see them too. Dick was the best amateur in Scotland so he was telling me to keep going with my jab. He was a southpaw like myself and he gave me a lot of encouragement. The boat is also really cool and smart inside.”

Having returned home last week after a three-week training camp in Canberra, Australia, with his Scottish boxing team-mates, Taylor is on his travels again as he journeys south to his second base in Sheffield – the home of GB boxing. Taylor, who was joined Down Under by Lochend team-mate Lewis Benson – competing at the 69kg category in Glasgow – admits the Australia trip has helped forge a real team spirit in the Scotland camp.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “We got to use all the training facilities at the Australian Institute of Sport which were of a really good standard.

“The only thing was I had taken all my shorts and sun tan cream expecting it still to be warm and it was pouring with rain! It was just like being back here! The guys I fought were half decent so I had a couple of good fights. I stopped my second opponent with a body shot so I was pleased with that.

“The first fight I had was harder than I expected as we’d only been there for two days and I hadn’t really slept with all the travelling. The training was hard – the runs we were doing were particularly tough. It’s been fine since I’ve been back, though, I had just a day off before getting straight back into training.

“We all bonded well as the team spirit was good and there were some laughs. Now and again we had some time off as you can’t train all the time. We weren’t drinking or going out late but there was a big shopping centre or the cinema so we could get away from it all.

“But now all the hard work continues so I am ready to go next month.”