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Inside the Games: Glasgow 2014 will have the biggest Scottish contingent ever

The Games are fast approaching - there are just 44 days until the opening ceremony of Glasgow 2014 and for the athletes, these coming weeks are the really critical period.

Hampden Park
Hampden Park

The majority of sports have already selected their athletes who will be competing at the Games, with Team Scotland being completed later this week at the final team announcement.

Commonwealth Games Scotland's aim was for the team heading for Glasgow 2014 to be the biggest Scottish contingent ever and it is well on track for this to indeed be the case. 207 athletes pulled on the Scottish tracksuit at the Manchester Games in 2002 and it looks like this figure is going to be eclipsed in Glasgow, with around 290 Scottish athletes likely to be in Team Scotland for their home Games.

While having your selection confirmed means that you can relax in some respects, in others, it just amplifies the pressure. The final few weeks before a major competition are the most nerve-wracking for any athlete and this is increased even further when there is a home Commonwealth Games to look forward to.

With just over a month to go until the event begins, the bulk of the hard work is already done for the athletes. It is generally accepted that to make any considerable fitness gains, a twelve week training block is required so with just a month-or-so to go, the opportunity to improve fitness to any significant degree has gone.

Every single Scottish athlete who will be competing at Glasgow 2014 will soon have their place confirmed so they will then be able to shift their focus from securing a berth in the team to performing in front of their home crowd.

The majority of an athlete's training in the final few weeks is focused on sharpening-up, staying injury-free and getting your mindset right. While it is an unquestionably stressful time, it is also one of the most exciting periods of any athlete's career.

Last week, saw the unveiling of a remodeled Hampden Park, the venue for the athletics competition and also the closing ceremony with the stadium being the centerpiece of the Games.

The transformation of Hampden Park is quite staggering, with the pitch being raised by two metres using state-of-the-art technology to accommodate a running track.

Eilish McColgan was at Hampden Park for the reveal and will be looking to emulate her mum, Liz, who won gold in the 10,000 metres in the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986 in front of her home crowd.

The unveiling at Hampden showed the final touches that have been made and with the athletics track now laid, Eilish was the first athlete to do a lap of the track.

The crowd will be incredibly close to the action at Hampden which will improve the atmosphere even further and there is little question that the Scottish athletes performances inside the stadium will be buoyed by the support of their home crowd.

That Hampden has been transformed from a football stadium into an athletics stadium rather than building a bespoke venue for the Games is a sign of things to come for multi-sport events. It is unfeasible for every host city to build brand new sports stadiums for events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, so to be able to spend a fraction of the money and turn a football stadium into a world-class athletics arena for the few weeks it is required is likely to be a solution which is copied by many a host city for future Games.

This weekend, the Queen's Baton will embark on the final leg of its journey. Having travelled through 70 countries of the Commonwealth, it will cross the border from England on the 14th of June and spend 40 days covering every corner of Scotland before it finishes its journey at Celtic Park on the 23rd of July, for the opening ceremony of the Games.

The Queen's Baton Relay is a curious thing but the success of the Olympic Torch relay demonstrated just what a huge success this spectacle can be. The Baton will cover the whole of Scotland which means that every person in the country can get a taste of Glasgow 2014 even if they have not managed to secure tickets for the Games.

The excitement for the Games is really building within Glasgow and you can already feel the buzz in the city. The unveiling of 'The Big G' in George Square means that there is a constant reminder of the Games every time you are in the city centre.

It is Glasgow's equivalent of the Olympic rings which hung from Tower Bridge during London 2012 and I get the feeling that even the cynics are beginning to succumb to the excitement and anticipation of Glasgow 2014.

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