Eilidh Doyle admits she’ll have pangs of pride when she carries out Scotland’s flag in Wednesday’s Opening Ceremony at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Edinburgh University graduate topped the poll in a ballot of team members ahead of Tranent bowler Alex Marshall and Capital shooter Jen McIntosh to take the honour on Australia’s Gold Coast.
It’s a second time inside a year the Olympic bronze medallist has been elected by popular acclaim by her peers after serving as captain of the British team at the world athletics championships in London. But Doyle – the first-ever female Scottish flag bearer – concedes following in the footsteps of judo player Euan Burton, who took the flag in Glasgow 2014, will be a duty to remember, with the Scots booked to be the first of 71 nations entering the Cararra Stadium for a ceremony expected to reflect both indigenous and contemporary culture. I don’t know how heavy the flag is or anything like that but hopefully I get a wee shot at it before,” she said. “Everyone has said I need to do a Chris Hoy with the one hand but I haven’t got guns like Chris Hoy. I’ll just be happily waving it.”
It will be a novelty, the 31-year-old confirmed, because despite appearing at two Olympics and countless athletics championships – as well as two previous Commonwealths where she claimed silver medals – this will be a first opening ceremony she has attended.
“At the 2012 Olympics, we weren’t in London. We weren’t in Rio 2016 for that one. I think it’s my first Opening Ceremony. We didn’t go to Delhi and we didn’t go to Glasgow. We were kept out of it all so it’ll be even more special. We watched the Glasgow one. My training group in Glasgow all stayed in Kilmarnock out the way so we sat and watched it.”
But this edition of the Friendly Games is one Doyle plans to savour, with two chances of extending her large medal collection in the 400m hurdles and then the relay.
“I’m at the point where this could be my last Games so you want to appreciate those moments.”
The Scotland squad moved into the Athletes Village almost en masse on Sunday. By Thursday, it will be time to go for glory and end three weeks of slowly building to the start line with Capital stars like Lynsey Sharp, Callum Skinner and McIntosh among those tipped to excel. Four years ago in Glasgow, all eyes were on gold-medal contender Doyle before she was forced to settle for silver. This time, once her starring role at the start is over, it will be down to business and nothing else.
“I’m far more relaxed,” she said. “I loved Glasgow, but I probably didn’t realise until it was over how much of a strain and how daunting it was.
“This is nice. We’re a lot more under the radar than we were in Glasgow. We’ve obviously all got our own expectations. We’re wanting to come out here and perform to our own abilities, but it’s definitely nice not to have that same attention that we had in Glasgow.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I wouldn’t want to go through it again.”