The race to the next Commonwealth Games has already started – and Rodger Harkins expects the outcome to be a very strong Team Scotland in track, field and marathon.
Our Performance Director has seen this particular wheel turn a number of times during his coaching career and has been handed a lead role for Gold Coast 2018.
Rodger, who in fact has had experience of coaching an athlete to every Games since 1986, will be Head Coach next April.
Now the ‘selection scramble’ is up and running and, in an interview which appears in PB (our magazine for scottishathletics members) he explained the qualifying process.
‘We’re now just over a year away from Gold Coast 2018 and it is always exciting at this stage in the cycle for each Commonwealth Games,’ said Rodger.
‘The selection period is open for most of the rest of the year and that means opportunities for athletes to put themselves into contention for selection.
So many Scottish athletes have stepped up over the past 18 months or so that we’ve more than a few now who are performing at what I would call a global level – we saw that with the big representations in Team GB and NI for the Olympics in Rio.
‘A Commonwealth Games in the southern hemisphere at that time of the year – normally it could be difficult to prepare for.
‘But I’m seeing quite a few indications from athletes in various recent performances out of kilter from the ‘normal’ track and field season to give me an awful lot of encouragement.
‘The standards being asked for in order to be in the frame for selection are higher this time around.
‘Glasgow 2014 was an exceptional circumstance in many ways – selection then, and I am talking across all sports, was based on the potential to finish in a top eight place. That was based on the results from the three previous three Commonwealth Games.
‘This time, for Gold Coast, the Commonwealth Games Scotland General Selection Policy is looking for the potential for a top six finish. As I say, that is across all sports and those are the parameters we need to work within.
‘Inevitably, that is going to mean there is a real fight on for places in Australia. It is going to be tough to get on the team but what I would say is that those selection standards will drive up performances – and that’s good for our sport.
‘Effectively, those that make it will be real contenders for the podium or the final in their events and I think I can safely say – even at this distance – that Scotland will have a very strong team.
‘The other point that is important for athletes and coaches with ambitions of being selected is the level of Competition required for qualifying standards to be accepted Permit Level 3 and above.
‘The Selection Policy states that it is the responsibility of athletes and coaches to be aware of this and ensure the competitions they are taking part in are of the appropriate level.
‘Opportunities coming up soon include Loughborough, the District Champs and the British Champs. Later on, you have the Manchester International and then the Scottish Seniors. That’s just naming five opportunities off the top of my head and there will be plenty of others.
‘When planning the competition schedule for the outdoor season, coaches should be looking at this.’
In October 2016, scottishathletics President Leslie Roy was appointed as a General Team Manager by Commonwealth Games Scotland for the Gold Coast 2018 Games.
Leslie has Games management experience stretching back to 2002 and, leading on transport and logistics, will carry out a similar role to her responsibilities at Glasgow 2014.
‘I am absolutely delighted and privileged to once again be part of Team Scotland’s General Team Management and I am looking forward to the challenges and experiences that the Gold Coast will bring,’ said Leslie.
Leslie will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Team Scotland transport and logistics. This will include liaising and communicating with the Team Managers of all 18 sports regarding planning travel to Australia and co-ordinating team freight and equipment.
The responsibilities also include co-ordinating the transition of Team Scotland members and their equipment from the Team Camp in the Sunshine Coast to the main village in the Gold Coast as well as to satellite villages and Team functions.
‘This will be my fifth Commonwealth Games and it is something very special and rewarding to be able to help athletes achieve their goals at a Games,’ added Leslie.
‘I visited the Gold Coast in October 2016 and the venues look absolutely superb.’
Joining Leslie and Rodger in a Team Scotland role will be Julie Mollison. Assistant Team Manager for Athletics at Glasgow 2014, Julie will now step up to the Team Manager role for the Gold Coast.