Eilidh Child can give Jessica Ennis a run for her money and emerge as a poster girl for Glasgow 2014, believes scottishathletics director of coaching Stephen Maguire.
As with Ennis at last summer's Olympics, there will be a yearning for a home favourite to become the face of next August's Commonwealth Games and Child, 25, from Perth, moved to the head of that pack after winning the UK title in the 400m at Sheffield last weekend, just 24 hours after setting a Scottish best of 52.06secs in the semi-final. This was bettered yesterday at the Birmingham Grand Prix, when she finished third in a time of 51.50.
Olympian Child already has a Commonwealth silver medal in her favoured event, the 400m hurdles, from Delhi, and Maguire thinks she is timing her run perfectly to become one of Scotland's few world-class performers by the time the event gets under way in 17 months' time.
"I am excited about Eilidh because 52 seconds flat is good running indoors for a 400m hurdler with limited experience indoors," said the Irishman who has now been in his job for four months. "The nice thing about her, never mind her performances, is the way she conducts herself and portrays herself, she's a very good role model for younger athletes. Eilidh is very professional, very driven. It wasn't as if she was a precociously talented young athlete. She has a degree and freely admits she had a good time at university for a few years, and it is very positive that she has got that out of the way and is now a schoolteacher. She has worked her way through it and this summer she is going to become a truly world-class athlete. She could absolutely make a world final this year."
The pressure and exposure is all part of the package. "That is one of the things I have spoken to the athletes about," Maguire said. "It is a home games, and if you are winning, and competing for Britain and competing at worlds, by the time it comes to Glasgow, people will be out looking for you, and your face will be on posters and things like that. That is the natural way of things and surely the way you would want your career to go. All our top people are going to have attention focused on them and that is very healthy as long as they are aware enough and in my conversations with them and their coaches they are."
After Child's appearance at yesterday's Birmingham Grand Prix, next up is the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg in March, with other dates in the diary being April 1 when the qualification period for the Commonwealth Games begins and the world outdoors in Moscow in August.
Maguire has been challenged to expand on the two track and field medals won by Scots in Delhi and Melbourne, and emboldened by the nine medals won at last weekend's UK Championships, the best total for 18 years, he feels this is an achievable target for a home games. Hammer thrower Mark Dry and former NCAA 1500m champion Chris O'Hare are two other hopefuls.
Attracting illustrious overseas participants to the Games would be something of a mixed blessing for his own athletes, Maguire said.
"A big part of me is thinking I hope they all don't show so we get a bucketload of medals. If your marquee people like Usain Bolt turn up it makes it special, but if he doesn't turn up then [Yohan] Blake turns up, they can go down four or five deep. The other thing is conditions, can they run their PB in rain or wind? We might have an advantage there so another big part of me is praying for rain."
Any athletics fans in Glasgow can get their fix at the McCain Senior Scottish Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena today, where another Commonwealth medal hope, Lee McConnell, tops the bill, running the 200m.
o The McCain Senior Indoor Championships take place at the Emirates Arena today with scottishathletics titles and medals up for grabs. Admission for adults is £3. Find out more on www.scottishathletics.org.uk