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Just qualifying for Glasgow 2014 will be a massive success in itself for many Scots

"The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Charline Joiner, pictured celebrating her team sprint silver with Jenny Davis in Delhi 2010, suffered a broken back while training  in Girona but is still hopeful of claiming a place in the Scotland team.Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Charline Joiner, pictured celebrating her team sprint silver with Jenny Davis in Delhi 2010, suffered a broken back while training in Girona but is still hopeful of claiming a place in the Scotland team.Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

"The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Pierre de Coubertin

founder of the modern Olympics

IN just more than one week, it will be 100 days until the start of Glasgow 2014. In the host city in particular, the anticipation surrounding the Commonwealth Games - it will be the biggest sporting event that Scotland has ever staged - is building. Just last week, officials from the Commonwealth Games Federation declared that Glasgow 2014 is in a good position to be the "best Games ever". The closer the Opening Ceremony becomes, the louder grows the chatter over how many medals Scotland can win.

The faces of the 400 metres hurdler Eilidh Child, the swimmer Michael Jamieson and the gymnast Daniel Purvis will become more and more prominent in the next few months, billed as almost certain medal prospects.

The focus on these 'Faces of the Games' is understandable; the success or not of the Games this summer will be hugely dependent upon the number of medals won by home athletes. Yet, this insatiable appetite for medal prospects results in many Scottish athletes being overlooked.

The Scottish team is expected to number more than 200. Most of these athletes will not win a medal; some will not come close. Which means that, in this modern-day world in which success is judged on securing precious metals to the exclusion of all else, it will be seen as something of a failure to arrive at the Closing Ceremony at Hampden Park on August 3 and not be brandishing a gold, silver or bronze medal.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there will be some who will only deem their Commonwealth Games a success if they end up on the medal podium, but, in the midst of that, there are countless, less prominent Scottish athletes who are just 100-odd days away from realising their life's dream.

For many athletes who will pull on the Scottish vest this summer, just being part of the home contingent at Glasgow 2014 will be the jubilant, and ultimately fruitful, culmination of years of excruciatingly hard work which may be disregarded or even forgotten in the clamour for medals.

Athletes are being selected for Team Scotland increasingly regularly - 46 have already been confirmed, more than 100 more will be selected in the coming months. In a world where sporting success must almost always be tangible, it can be forgotten just how sizeable an achievement making the team can be.

Perhaps the most poignant example is the cyclist Charline Joiner. The 25-year-old won silver in the team sprint in Delhi four years ago and looked almost certain of a place in Team Scotland until she travelled to a training camp in Girona in January and was involved in an accident while out riding. She was knocked off her bike and left with a broken back. Just six months before the biggest event of her life, she was no longer worried about winning a medal in Glasgow, she was simply trying to reassure herself that she would walk again.

Yet, Joiner is nothing if not tenacious and she has said that she is doing everything she can to ensure that she will be at Glasgow 2014. The will to compete at a home Commonwealth Games cannot be underestimated: Joiner was back on her bike within two months and is ploughing through the mind-numbing, relentless rehabilitation work which must be done to earn her a place in the squad.

Joiner is not the only athlete whose story affirms that it is not solely winning that matters, rather that the struggle to get there in the first instance can be just as onerous.

Weightlifter Georgie Black is in the process of losing 12 kilograms (almost 2 stones) as she attempts to move down weight categories and qualify for Glasgow 2014. There are the wrestling twins, Donna and Fiona Robertson, who are trying to secure places at the age of 44. And what about Silas Goldsworthy, the cyclist who has taken a break from his day job as a vet to enable him to train full-time during the qualification period?

There are plenty more tales of this sort. Personal stories in which the drive and determination to claim a place in Team Scotland deserves as much admiration as those Scottish athletes who will be standing atop the podium this summer.

Yes, Team Scotland will be judged in the simple currency of medals, but the sleepless nights, the sacrifices and the torment experienced by the Scots scrapping to make the team cannot be overstated.

One thing is for sure, though, it will all be worth it.

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