After 18 months of intense assessment, the anxious wait was finally over as Commonwealth Games Scotland, in conjunction with Bowls Scotland, unveiled their 10-player lawn bowling team for this summer's Commonwealth Games at the majestic Kelvingrove in the West End of the city yesterday.
Spearheading the teams of five 19 world titles and two Commonwealth pairs gold medals under his belt will be Tranent's Alex Marshall, who, along with the 1998 pairs gold medallist Margaret Letham from Uddingston, will be competing in his fifth Games.
Marshall will be joined by Delhi campaigners - world No.1 Paul Foster, world champions Darren Burnett from Arbroath and Dalkeith's David Peacock and Edinburgh's Neil Speirs - while Letham will be supported by Overtoun's Caroline Brown, Claire Johnston from Auchinleck, East Whitburn's Lorraine Malloy, all of whom also participated in Delhi four years ago.Port Seton's Lauren Baillie is the only new face in the line-up.
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The team is bursting with experience with nine of the 10 players having competed in a total of 20 Games between them with Burnett and Peacock getting the nod for their fourth consecutive appearance after debuting in Manchester in 2002 and then going on to compete in Melbourne and Delhi. Foster will compete for a third time in a row and it will be back-to-back appearances for Speirs, Brown, Johnston and Malloy. Marshall, Foster, Burnett, Peacock, Letham and Brown are also reigning world champions.
No stone has been left unturned in this selection process and it is a team built on solid foundations, as head coach David Gourlay explained when he introduced his team. "It was a difficult decision to reach with all of the squad members attaining the required criteria for selection," he said. "We brought in modern technology and developed a notational analysis programme similar to the one used by the curlers.
"Our team of 20 taggers tracked every single bowl that each player delivered throughout their 18-month selection period. This information was then analysed and gave us an indication of how effective players were at differing lengths of jack. It is an intense programme and a pretty impressive tool. We have a baseline target of two medals but I believe we can expand on this."
However, he did not reveal the actual playing positions of the team, adding: "For tactical reasons, which are being employed by a lot of the countries, our line-up will be kept under wraps and not announced until the June 12 deadline."
Marshall, who did not compete in the last Games in Delhi after winning gold medals first in Manchester with assistant team coach George Sneddon, then in Melbourne with Foster, is no stranger to the pressures that have seen his career blossom and evolve since his first Commonwealth appearance with East Lothian compatriot Graham Robertson when they lined up in the pairs in British Columbia in Canada in 1994.
"I've competed on nearly every continent, but a worldwide competition being held in your own back yard is what you dream of, so winning gold here in Glasgow would top anything I've ever won before," Marshall said. "Nothing can ever compare with competing in front of a home crowd."
Foster welcomed the change of format which should see shorter and sharper competition.
"This time round you get two bites at the cherry," he said. "You either play in singles or fours then pairs or triples. In previous Games you only had an opportunity in one discipline but with two you'll have more time on the greens and that should evoke more confidence."