MICKY YULE is preparing to compete in front of the biggest crowd of his career.
He has warmed up by performing in front of the toughest. Yule's is one of the most remarkable stories of these Commonwealth Games, the tale of how a Royal Engineers staff sergeant lost both his legs in Afghanistan but whose determination not to let that moment define him has led to the point where he will represent his country in the powerlifting event at the SECC early next month.
He has, unsurprisingly, been the focus of sustained media interest in the weeks and months leading up to the Games but laughed off the suggestion that he has become a "poster boy" for Team Scotland. There seems little prospect of the 35-year-old from Musselburgh ever getting carried away by the attention but, in any case, a recent photo shoot on the Clyde has helped to keep any ego in check.
The picture of a topless, heavily tattooed Yule, in shorts, prosthetic legs prominent, standing among the cranes and metal chains, makes for quite a striking image but the shoot was soundtracked by the gentle, teasing banter from the attendant shipworkers who looked on with bemusement at the unfolding scene.
"We went down to Govan, to BAE Systems, where they were building an aircraft carrier," he revealed.
"I was a bit sceptical because it's outside my comfort zone. I was in the army for 15 years and suddenly I was taking my top off in front of a bunch of welders and all these guys were working away as I was being sprayed with water. I thought,'I don't know if I like this,' but Alastair Devine the photographer assured me it would turn out all right.
"I was on a slipway down to the water and it was a nightmare to be on prosthetic legs, surrounded by chains, so I couldn't see anything behind me. He assured me it was going to look great. I couldn't really see it, at that time I was just taking abuse from the guys who were swapping shifts up top about why I had my top off. It was a bit of banter, shouting a few things you couldn't put in the paper, but they were definitely wanting to know why I was walking about with my top off being sprayed with water.
"The thing is they didn't want to stop working so it still went on in the background - and the foreman certainly wasn't going to stop the work for me. But it was a good day and different from what I'm used to. And when I saw the pictures I was happy with how they turned out."
If that was a tough crowd - albeit one whose barbs were wrapped in humour - then Yule can expect a much warmer welcome when competition gets underway.
His powerlifting event is not scheduled until the penultimate day of competition and although there is a slight impatience at having to wait so long to get involved, it does at least give him more time to enjoy some more of the Games as a spectacle. He's going to the opening ceremony and hopes to take in some other sports, most notably the boxing and the weighlifting events. Just being part of Team Scotland has been an uplifting experience.
"It really struck home last weekend at our pre-camp meeting when the likes of Chris Hoy came in and spoke to us about their past experiences of Commonwealth Games and Olympics," he added.
"It's great to be part of a group that involves all different sports, especially in para-sport, as very rarely do we mix with able-bodied athletes. I wouldn't want to come here and be selected and not do the opening ceremony. I want the feel of going into the stadium, feel the atmosphere and see how much the country is behind us. I know it's going to be electric from what we've seen could be going on. It's certainly something I don't want to miss and I won't be lifting for another week and a half after that anyway.
"I won't be fatigued from doing it, if anything it will energise me. I know guys won't go if they're lifting one or two days after it because it's a long night and there might be a lot of standing about but I'll certainly be there to absorb as much energy as possible.
"I'm looking forward to doing what I have to do. It's another day in the office, another competition.
"I need to get my weights lifted and I will use all the energy from the crowd to get those weights flying up. It will be the biggest crowd I've ever lifted in front of."