Cram expects Scotland to embrace Commonwealth Games

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Steve Cram expects Scotland to embrace the Commonwealth Games and make Glasgow 2014 as memorable as the London 2012 Olympics.

And the middle distance legend believes our track and field athletes can seize their moment of opportunity and significantly grow their profiles.

But the BBC commentator has warned the Hampden crowd not to expect too much from developing stars like 21-year-old student Laura Muir, with no fewer than 30 of the 58-strong Scottish athletics team aged 23 or under.

Cram delivered a range of opinions in an interview for a special edition of PB magazine, which is being delivered to 9500 members of scottishathletics this week.

The magazine’s front cover features the first picture of the vest designed by sportswear company KUKRI to be worn by Team Scotland’s track, field and marathon athletes at Glasgow 2014 under an agreement with scottishathletics and Commonwealth Games Scotland.

‘There are a lot of tickets sold for Hampden and I think the atmosphere will be brilliant,’ said Cram, who won a gold double at 800m and 1500m the last time the Games came to Scotland in Edinburgh back in 1986.

‘There will be moments which stand out for years, that is a certainty. You do not know yet who it will be but it will happen.

‘It is a massive moment of opportunity for athletics in Scotland and sport in Scotland. What happens when you host an event like this is that, for a while at least, it opens a few doors. Suddenly a little bit of money becomes available. Programmes get funding, a few sponsors are onside and interest is stimulated.

‘There is a big Scottish athletics team named and that’s good because it means people are making certain standards.

‘For that period, sport becomes very relevant in both the minds of the public and on the wider political agenda. The head of UK Sport had the Prime Minister sitting in the best seat in the house for all the major moments at London 2012. They were saying: ‘’Isn’t sport great, Prime Minister?’’

‘I’m sure that will be happening in Scotland and if it goes well then hopefully there will be a mushroom effect.’

Stephen Maguire, the Northern Irishman who is scottishathletics Director of Coaching and in charge for Hampden, is confident of getting meeting a track and field medal target of ‘more than two’ – with two each achieved in the last two Commonwealth Games.

But he doesn’t believe the figure of around 10 medal contenders has changed with the growth of the team to 58 (three times as many as travelled to Delhi in 2010).

Cram, for his part, had to help console Laura Muir in Poland in March when she failed to reach the final of the 800m after being one of the event favourites in Sopot.

‘Laura is a great little competitor,’ said Cram, whose new advisory role on endurance for British Athletics gives him direct contact with Scots like Muir, Chris O’Hare, Lynsey Sharp, Beth Potter and Eilish McColgan.

‘But she is a developing athlete and she still has a long way to go. What people have to do is be patient and allow her to develop. It’s a massive year but whatever she does will move her on and make her better. People should bear that in mind.

‘I don’t think Scotland will see Laura Muir at her best this summer although she will have a chance of doing well. It should be clear to everyone that at the moment we’re talking about potential.

‘The World Indoors in Sopot taught her a few lessons. She was very upset afterwards and there were a few of us (from BBC commentary team) who were outside the arena afterwards trying to console her. I said to her that day in Poland: ‘’You will learn from this’’.

‘And it might be a good thing because she’ll come into the Commonwealth Games more aware of what it’s all about. I chatted with her coach during the winter because you go from when nobody knows who you are to, all of a sudden, being asked to run in the Diamond League.’

Muir and her fellow Team Scotland athletes will wear the KUKRI vest at Hampden with the first involved the five marathon runners on Sunday 27 July – Susan Partridge, Hayley Haining, Joasia Zakrzewski, Derek Hawkins and Ross Houston.

Kukri Sales Director, Scott Gamble, said: ‘As a Scotsman, I’m extremely proud to continue working in partnership with scottishathletics.

‘It’s such an exciting time to be involved with the Scotland team who have so much brilliant talent and some medal hopes like our KUKRI ambassador, Libby Clegg.

‘We are honoured to be the chosen sports brand when the Scottish athletes represent their country.’

*Scottish athletes picked up 18 medals at the England Athletics U23/U20 champs last weekend with seven winning gold medals.

A trio of Glasgow 2014 squad members – Rachel Hunter, Allan Smith and Nick Percy – were among them with the other event winners James McLachlan, Kimberley Reed, Shaun Wyllie and Greg Millar.

Combined with last year’s Bedford haul of 23, it means more than 40 medals have been won at British level in those age brackets by Scots over successive seasons.

Hammer thrower Reed and 1500m runner Wyllie have now been named in Team GB for the World Juniors in Oregon next month.