Para-cyclist Fachie sets targets on Team Scotland history

·5-min read
Birmingham's Opening ceremony
Birmingham's Opening ceremony

Neil Fachie is targeting Team Scotland history while Libby Clegg simply aims to get her para-cycling career off the ground at the Commonwealth Games.

Aberdeen star Fachie has a perfect Games record, four wins from four races in 2014 and 2018, with two further stone-cold gold chances at London’s velodrome.

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Only lawn bowler Alex Marshall - with five - is ahead on Scotland’s all-time list, but a fact of which Fachie doesn’t need reminding.

He said: “I am aware of it. I know a lot of people say in interviews they’re not aware of records - I don’t really buy that. I think most people are. I think between Games it’s so long you become aware of these things.

“If I get the two gold medals I’d go top of the list of Scottish athletes. The caveat to that is Alex Marshall is competing in three events and could quite easily topple me in the end later in the week and that’s why I hope he does well, for Team Scotland that would be great news, we’re kind of duking it out.

“It would be huge for disability sport to be at the top of able-bodied and disability all time for Scotland. I’m very proud of being Scottish and it would be such an honour. You might as well aim high, so that’s what I’m aiming for.

“If I fall short, fine, but hopefully I can add some medals to my tally and if I need to come back in four years, getting on a bit, well maybe I have to. That’s fine!

“I don’t know if he knows I’m chasing him or not, and I don’t know if he’s that bothered. We haven’t spoken to him, but I am chasing him and I do genuinely hope he wins as well.”

Fachie’s first shot comes in the kilo time trial where his closest rival will be James Ball.

The Welshman won silver behind the Scot in two events at Gold Coast 2018 and again at last year’s Paralympics in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Clegg takes her first tentative steps in track cycling with six months of training under belt, starting with the sprint event.

A five-time Paralympic and world medallist on the athletics track, the Edinburgh star retired from sprinting after Tokyo and joined the British Cycling programme in January.

Guided by Jenny Holl, she is in a slim field of four that also features 49-year-old Scot Aileen McGlynn.

On the bowling greens of Leamington Spa ‘Tattie’ Marshall and Paul Foster begin their pairs campaign against Botswana.

Marshall’s first Commonwealth Games was Victoria 1994 and Foster’s Melbourne 2006, with the duo hoping to upgrade the pairs silver they won on Gold Coast 2018.

Marshall said: “Myself and Paul know each other’s game inside out.

“That has been a massive part of our success as we progressed over the years, and we’re also always in each other's company off the green which makes us a formidable partnership.

“To be honest the experience has not changed from the start of my career, I still get the same buzz now as I used to.

“There is more expectation as you have been successful before, but that doesn’t affect me in any way as my approach to the game has not changed. I do pass on my experiences to the other players in the team, as the more they know the better it is for the team.”

Among first Scottish athletes to compete at the Games are the controversy-hit para men’s pairs bowlers.

Kevin Wallace will now be partnered by Garry Brown after Garry Hood was kicked off the team for posting racist remarks on social media about Rishi Sunak and Humza Yousaf.

The men’s and women’s triathlon are the first medal events, staged in the bucolic surrounds of Sutton Park.

Glasgow’s Beth Potter arrives in good form having finished a personal best fifth in last month’s World Series race in Leeds, where the top stars all aligned.

Potter became the first Scottish athlete to compete in two sports at the same Games at Gold Coast 2018 when she ran the 10,000m on the track and raced the triathlon.

She said: “This is my third Commonwealth Games - I’m not sure it will top Glasgow for me, or maybe it will, but it feels like a home Games nonetheless.”

In the pool Ross Murdoch’s swimming swansong begins with the 200m breaststroke.

The Glasgow 2014 gold medallist, 28, will step away from the sport, bringing to an end a career that has featured two Olympics and three Commonwealth medals.

Frank Baines leads Scotland in the men’s team gymnastics competition while the rugby sevens men and women both play two group games at Coventry Stadium.

Baines, who won silver at Glasgow 2014 and bronze four years later, came out of retirement for the Games.

"When lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2020, I was seeing the guys I'd been to Australia with getting back into training and I realised how much I missed being part of that team," Baines said.

"My shoulders have probably got one more Games in them so I wanted to take another crack at it.

World bronze medallist Reese Lynch is the first Scottish boxer to enter the fray at the NEC when he takes on Kiribati’s Timon Aaree.

Perth squash star Rory Stewart begins his men’s singles campaign against Kenya’s Muqtadir Sadruddin Nimji.

Scotland are also well-represented at the debut of 3x3 basketball at the Games with men’s, women’s and wheelchair women’s teams all in action on opening day.

The women’s hockey team, led by Melrose Olympian Sarah Robertson, are early starters against South Africa and Alan Forsyth’s men have a tricky tie against New Zealand to start.

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