Team Scotland at Glasgow International

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Nigel Holl believes it is performances over the past couple of years have helped land Scotland a team at the Glasgow International match.

British Athletics traditionally host the fixture and now, for the first time in its 23-year history, there will be a ‘local’ side competing against Team GB and NI, the United States and a Commonwealth Select.

No fewer than 28 Scottish athletes will be selected for the fixture taking in two relay teams (4 x 400m), Para athletes and a couple of reserves.

That’s a huge improvement on the eight Scots who featured in this fixture at the Emirates Arena earlier this year and Saturday 25 January now looks certain to be a sold out event.

And Holl, the scottishathletics chief executive, is in little doubt why the opportunity has arisen and the value in it for Scottish athletes.

‘I think it is a great cracking opportunity in a Commonwealth year,’ said Nigel.

‘Come Hampden in the summer, we will have a Team Scotland and now we have that indoors.

‘The indoor international has always been a really good event, historically at the Kelvin Hall – and we saw it come to life at the Emirates Arena last year.

‘To have Scotland team in is just a great opportunity. It’s great for the athletes, first of all. UK Athletes, Glasgow Life and the City Council wouldn’t have agreed to a Scottish team in this event if the athletes didn’t deserve it, that’s important to say. They’ve made the case for inclusion.

‘And I think it’s a great chance for Scotland, on television, at the Emirates Arena, to get behind our athletes, wearing the Saltire – in a year when they will be competing at Hampden later on.

‘There is a bit of discussion to go on over who wears what vest. The teams aren’t selected yet.

‘All I will say is that I will back Stephen Maguire to go and make his case very strongly. The reality is that, if we’re going to have a Scottish team in, we need our best Scottish athletes competing for Scotland. Let’s be honest.

‘There are greater numbers of athletes elsewhere in Britain who can come together for a very strong Team GB.

‘My view is clear. Eilidh Child likes running for Scotland. She wants to run for Scotland. She should run for Scotland in January. No issue.

‘Home expectation is that extra bit of pressure. Some athletes rise to a new level. We will try and use the experience our athletes have, those who were at London 2012, those who were at the World Championships in Moscow – who rose to the occasion.

‘The indoor event is another opportunity. Five thousand people, though, it’s not going to compare with 45,000-plus at Hampden. But it’s another learning opportunity.

‘Every opportunity has to be taken this year. That’s why we give the athletes these chances.

‘The two golden eras of Scottish athletics were the 1970s, then the late 1980s and early 1990s. What happened around that time? We had a home Commonwealth Games.

‘I don’t know if that’s coincidence but, with another home Games next year, we have to make sure that kicks off the next era for Scottish athletics from 2015 on.

‘We’re in a different era, kids are different, athletics is different, more countries are competing. But we have a group of young athletes with potential.

‘Will we be ready to feed the public’s expectation? I would like their expectation to be so high, so great, that we’re struggling with that.

‘But I believe we’ve got the athletes to meet really big public expectations.

‘It is too early to say if 2014 at the Emirates will be a one-off. Let’s wait and see what happens.

‘If we can say to UK Athletics every January that we have half a dozen athletes prioritising an indoor season, and that’s now always the case, there will be a clamour for a Scottish team. And we can justify a Scottish team.

‘We’ve got to be competitive. We won’t be winning every event, we’re up against the States, Team GB and a Commonwealth Select. But, if we can be competitive, that’s key.’

Read more on www.scottishathletics.org.uk