Commonwealth Games 2014: Ten world stars to light up Glasgow

Some of the greats from the 2012 Olympics are back in Britain while new names are ready to shine. Robin Scott-Elliot assesses who to watch for

Alicia Coutts

Australia: Swimming

Australian swimming has been repairing its reputation since a disastrous London 2012 and Coutts has become one of the pillars on which it is being rebuilt. The 26-year-old was one of the few to shine in London, winning relay gold and an individual silver and bronze. She first came to international notice at the Games four years ago when she claimed five golds. Looks well set to add at least a couple more here.

Keshorn Walcott

Trinidad & Tobago: Athletics

Another youngster who caused a stir in London. Walcott was 19 years and 131 days old when he won javelin gold in 2012, having only just won the world junior title. It remains the only senior medal he has won – has been troubled by injury and a lack of form since but is now fit and in form after a six-week training camp in Cuba.

 

Kirani James

Grenada: Athletics

James became the first  non-American to break the 44-second barrier when he swept to a stunning 400m triumph at the 2012 Olympics. Michael Johnson’s venerable world mark of 43.18sec looked within the then teenage James’ reach. But he flopped at last year’s World Championships and needs a good display here.

Pita Ahki

New Zealand: Rugby sevens

The 21-year-old was born in Tonga but has followed a well-trodden path into the black jersey. Ahki, a centre in XVs, made his Super Rugby debut for Blues this season – where he is coached by John Kirwan – but it is on the sevens field he excels. An exciting broken field runner,  he is part of the all-conquering All Black septet that won the World Cup in Moscow last summer.

Kemar Bailey-Cole

Jamaica: Athletics

With no Usain Bolt and no Yohan Blake in the 100m it gives us a glimpse at the next generation of Jamaican sprinters. Bailey-Cole is only 22 and already has an Olympic and World Championship gold to his name – both are in the relay and this is the perfect chance to claim a first individual medal. Has a best of 9.93sec.

Nicol David

Malaysia: Squash

The 30-year-old, who has been world No 1 for eight years, is one of the greatest players the sport has seen. With squash once again denied an Olympic place, this is likely to be David’s last major championships and she defends the title she won four years ago.

David Rudisha

Kenya: Athletics

Never mind Farah, Ennis and Co, there are those, with Seb Coe at the front of that queue, who would have Rudisha’s run to 800m gold in world record time as the greatest moment of London 2012. The 25-year-old missed last year’s World Championships owing to injury but will grace the track at Hampden Park.

Sally Pearson

Australia: Athletics

Australia’s go-to golden girl – Pearson won the Commonwealth 100m hurdles four years ago and then won Olympic gold in London. She also has a world title to her name. Was supposed to double up here and go in the 100m as well but she is set to focus only on the hurdles after a season dogged by injury worries. Will face a strong challenge from England’s Tiffany Porter.

Chad le Clos

South Africa: Swimming

The 22-year-old is among that rare breed of swimmers who have finished a race ahead of the great Michael Phelps. Le Clos beat Phelps by 0.05sec to claim a shock gold in the 200m butterfly in London. He added a silver in the 100m and then won gold in both at the following year’s World Championships. Already has two Commonwealth golds to his name.

Valerie Adams

New Zealand: Athletics

It would be a massive shock if Adams did not win gold. She has dominated the shot put for the best part of a decade and is still only 29. Carried the New Zealand flag into the opening ceremony and would have needed a back pack for all her major medals – two Olympic golds, four world titles, two Commonwealth golds, three indoor golds. And she has won her last 51 events.

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