Commonwealth Games 2014: Ten stars to watch for the Rio 2016 Olympics
The Games confirmed that there is British talent aplenty, from exciting new names such as Adam Peaty to more established ones like Bradley Wiggins. Robin Scott-Elliot lists just some who have a glint of gold about them for Brazil
Sunday 03 August 2014
1 Max Whitlock
The 21-year-old Englishman was the main man in the gymnastics and the scores he produced, especially in the all-round event, demonstrated just why he could be a golden contender in 2016. He went home from Glasgow with three gold medals, from the team, the all-round and the floor, a silver in the pommel and a bronze from the parallel bars and, although the Commonwealths do not have the depth of a true international competition, his performances will have been noted around the world of gymnastics. A score here earns the same score in any competition and Whitlock is hitting the heights. In October he will face a sterner test of his credentials in the world championships – win a medal there and it will be roll on Rio.
2 Ross Murdoch
Britain has a rich history in the breaststroke and the six nights in the Tollcross pool demonstrated it is still going strong. The 20-year-old from Rob Roy country stole Michael Jamieson’s glory on opening night in the pool, winning a thrilling gold in the 200m breaststroke. There was also a bronze in the 100m and a tired sixth in the final of the 50m. It was a stirring meet for Murdoch, with Rebecca Adlington among those impressed by his swimming. The European Championships later this year and the worlds next year will be key staging posts in determining whether he had his golden moment in home waters or whether he can mix it with the best.
3 Katie Archibald
The 20-year-old will have slept well last night. Archibald competed in five races on the track and out on Glasgow’s slippery roads. She finally ran out of gas in yesterday’s road race as she came towards the end of the 98km course. She came in seventh, the lowest finish of her Games. The best was the bronze behind Laura Trott and Elinor Barker, her British colleagues in the team pursuit, in the points race. There was also a fourth and two fifths and, while she has not claimed a pocket full of medals, this is a rider with a great future either on the road or in the velodrome.
Katie Archibald 4 Claudia Fragapane
This was some way to introduce herself to the British sporting public. At the age of 16, and standing all of 4ft 5in, Fragapane headed home with four gold medals in her Team England kitbag, the best performance by an English woman since the Hamilton Games of 1930. And she came here with an ambition that stretched to little more than helping England win a medal in the team event. That was gold one. Gold two, the plum one, came in the all-round, three was the vault and four was the floor. She had wiped her opponents off the floor. Next up is the World Championships in October and now the ambition is suitably increased – she wants more medals.
Claudia Fragapane 5 Siobhan O’Connor
The youngest swimmer in Britain’s 2012 Olympic team has become one of its lead women two years down the line. This was the first Games at which the 18-year-old has had to deal with an expectation of success and she did it in some style. O’Connor has added power to potential in the two years since London and that helped her haul in six medals here, including gold in the 200m individual medley. That is an event in which the level will rise notably when it comes to next year’s World Championships in Russia, the last ones before Rio, but O’Connor has podium potential.
Siobhan O’Connor 6 Adam Peaty
It was a good week for England and Britain in the Tollcross pool and Peaty was possibly the biggest positive to come out of it. “I 100 per cent see him on the podium in Rio,” was Adlington’s glowing judgement. Along with O’Connor and fellow double gold winner Ben Proud, Peaty forms part of a new wave of young swimmers pressing their international claims. Peaty won the 100m breaststroke and then helped England round off the Games in style with a shock gold ahead of the Australians in the medley relay.
Adam Peaty 7 Michaela Walsh
The 21-year-old flyweight went home to Belfast an unhappy woman, convinced she should have won gold against Nicola Adams, the Olympic champion, after a bruising contest. Given a bit of distance, and a switch of focus forward to Rio rather than back to Glasgow, then she should find no little encouragement from what she did here, if not the medal she pocketed. Adams remains the woman to catch and aims to bow out after Rio with a second gold, but Walsh has the ability to catch her. It is set up to be some rivalry.
Michaela Walsh 8 Sophie Thornhill
Thornhill went to the same school as Sarah Storey, one of Britain’s Paralympic greats. She is now ready to become a team-mate of Storey’s in Rio and may well find herself on a podium there, too. It has been some year for the 18-year-old from Stockport, the youngest member of England’s track team in Glasgow. First Thornhill, who is visually impaired and rides in the tandem time trial and sprint, took two gold medals at the World Championships, setting a world record en route, and then added two more here in company with her pilot, Helen Scott.
Sophie Thornhill 9 Jodie Williams
Williams will have to go some to make a podium in Rio but there was real encouragement to be found in the 20-year-old’s performance here. There has been little to get excited about in British women’s sprinting for too long so Williams’ attempt to transform world junior gold into some senior reward will be closely watched. She took a good silver here in the 200m behind double winner Blessing Okagbare with a personal best of 22.50sec. Another encouraging run in the European Championships next week and she will set off on the road to Rio with a spring in her step.
Bradley Wiggins 10 And… Bradley Wiggins
The will he, won’t he may continue all the way to Rio and that is in part what makes the Wiggo show so good to watch. His future remains as clear as the Glasgow skies yesterday but he undoubtedly has an eye on a last hurrah inside the Rio velodrome. Silver here in the team pursuit was a decent return to the track even if the Australians will take some catching on the evidence of the Commonwealth final.
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