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Those who implement the 'no compromise' approach must not be exempt from it

As we enter Commonwealth Games month, it is a time of great excitement for the 310 competitors who will represent Scotland.

Ian Stewart & Ian McCafferty overcame Kip Keino in the 1970 5000m,  as part of a Scotland team that won 53 medals
Ian Stewart & Ian McCafferty overcame Kip Keino in the 1970 5000m, as part of a Scotland team that won 53 medals

We can, of course, say with certainty that the vast majority of them will fail in their bid to win medals but they deserve great credit for honouring themselves and their country simply by earning the right to wear what should be a navy blue jersey, just as a select few thousand have done over the past 80 years.

Which is why the comments of Jon Doig, Scotland's chef de mission, have gnawed at me since he made them the day the team line-up was finalised a few weeks ago.

"They know they deserve to be there," observed Doig. "That's not always been the case in the past. A number of athletes were focused on making the team. Now the focus is on getting on the team and performing. They can look everybody in the eye and say I deserve to be here."

As stated, the vast majority of those involved will not win medals so criticism of their forebears seems both unnecessary and inaccurate.

His comments came just days after it had been announced that an appeal by Badminton Scotland against Commonwealth Games Scotland's refusal to let two of its team members take part in the individual events had failed.

Doig and his advisers would also have known that others in the team were unhappy about being prevented by their own federation from participating more fully.

Administrators must justify their intransigence in such matters, and the language used smacked of the drivel we have heard from UK Sport - when it suits them - about their "no compromise" approach to funding elite competitors.

This management jargon shows no understanding of the many complex factors involved in developing elite sportspeople.

Yet, of course, the one group of people who seem exempt from the 'no compromise' principle are the administrators who set the targets.

Oh, they are tough enough on the little governing bodies whose budgets they control as only the bravest dare complain about the way they are bullied by those who hold their purse strings.

However, when assessing their own efforts the powers-that-be are a good deal less stringent.

Doig has, for example, spoken of the great ambition of reaching a new record medal haul of more than 33 for Scotland in the weeks ahead, but that is no more than crafty public relations.

Of course the biggest ever Scotland team, with home support, should beat the mark set almost 30 years ago, when around 300 fewer medals were available than the 800 or so this time around.

Using that as a genuine comparator with previous efforts is disingenuous in the extreme.

So, in the spirit of 'no compromise' how about setting some genuine targets for the administrators who claim to have been so rigorous in identifying this team of contenders?

It is easy enough to calculate what they should be aiming for in terms of a real record with some basic arithmetic demonstrating the number of Scottish medals in relation to the number of events being contested.

How Scotland have fared on that basis in many ways marks Scottish sporting decline.

In real terms, then, the mark required for an all-time record is around 85, to surpass the 10% of all medals won in 1934, while 53 are needed to beat the home Games record set in 1970, the year Ian Stewart and Ian McCafferty led the legendary Kip Keino, father of Kenyan middle distance running, across the line in Edinburgh.

What was remarkable, on completing the number crunching, was to see that not one of the Games that have taken place in the past two decades - what might be termed the sportscotland, big sports admin era - features in the top half of the table.

Of course we all know anecdotally that, as in other sports such as football, rugby and golf, the burgeoning of sports administration in terms of national spend has been inversely proportionate to Scottish performances in the international sporting arena.

So, all concerned will try gamely but, as with their predecessors in Scotland teams, the vast majority of our competitors will fail to claim a piece of metal this time around.

That is the nature of an event to which so many countries are sending what they consider to be their most worthy competitors and we should laud all who have the dedication and the courage to have won the right to take them on.

As to how we assess them and, in turn, those who have selected them, I suggest that Doig takes a look at the real medal table (which I will retain for future reference) before focusing on the future rather than disrespecting the legacy of those who have previously earned their places, large or small, in Scottish sporting history.

Meanwhile, as the 'no compromise' brigade would surely agree, it is important that he and his fellow goal-setters are also given realistic targets.

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