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Athletics: Teenager aims to be home if not dry over Commonwealth selection

Marc Austin knows the impact the Commonwealth Games will have on Glasgow.

Competing in Glasgow would be very special for local boy Marc Austin
Competing in Glasgow would be very special for local boy Marc Austin

Having attended Scotstoun Primary and Jordanhill School, he knows, even though he is only just 19, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a major Games in the city where he grew up.

Finding his way to a start-line that is almost on his doorstep may prove to be his longest journey. There are those ahead of him in the queue. David McNamee, based full-time with the British triathlon squad in Leeds is one, while Ritchie Nicholls also has a strong claim to a place. But there will be at least three places in the Scotland men's team for Glasgow and Austin has his sights set on capturing one of them.

The British junior champion, who studies Applied Mathematics at Stirling University in addition to training 30 to 35 hours a week in his sport, showed he can cut it at international level by winning a bronze medal last month in extreme heat at the Australian Olympic Youth Festival in Sydney. It made up for his disappointment at the World Junior Championships in New Zealand last autumn where he suffered a puncture on the bike ride and had to be content with a 28th-place finish. He wasn't though and that was clear in Australia.

"It was the hottest day on record," he says. "Our race started at 9.30am so it should have been milder but it was 35 degrees and, when I crossed the line at the end of the run, it was up to 40 degrees. I've struggled in the past with the heat as, obviously being in Scotland, it's not something you have to deal with too much. In 2012, I had a bad experience at a European competition but six months later I raced in Portugal when it was about 35 degrees and by then I knew what to do and was careful with my hydration. That race went well so I knew what to expect in Australia although the last 2k was pretty hot.

"The event really came at the wrong time for me as it was in the middle of my winter training. From around October to March is when you do endurance stuff and it's not race specific. To go from doing all that work into a race is difficult because you are not sharp.

"I was really fit going into it but not race-fit and, in the last kilometre, I just didn't have that extra gear but hopefully, come April/May, I will.

"However, getting a bronze medal like that just builds confidence."

Austin has just more than a year to convince the selectors he is worthy of a Commonwealth Games place and, having just returned from two weeks at a training camp in the south of Spain, the foundations are laid for a competitive season.

He has a European Cup competition in France in May which is the qualifying event for the European Championships in Alanya, Turkey, the following month. The main target is the World Junior Championships which will be held in London in August and that will be pivotal for Commonwealth selection. The event will take place at Hyde Park, a year after Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee won Olympic gold and bronze respectively. Austin was a more than interested spectator.

"I was on a British training camp at the time and part of that was to go down and see the men's race," he says. "The Brownlee brothers have done a lot for British triathlon and it was fantastic to see them doing so well. They have shown me that the harder you train, the better you are. That's something that motivates me; you don't have to be super-talented but if you train hard, then you can do it.

"Obviously, a home world championship is a pretty big deal this year so it would be great to be involved in that. If I could win a medal there, it would put my name forward for Commonwealth Games selection. It wouldn't guarantee anything but if you can build on that and have a couple of good races in 2014, then you'd have a good chance of making the team. That's why the World Juniors is a big thing for me this year as it's part of that criteria.

"Apart from my time at Stirling University, I've lived in Glasgow my whole life. I'm proud to be from Glasgow and to compete there would be special. I notice when I go back that there is a buzz about the Games and a lot of building going on. There has been a load of stuff at the Emirates Arena and the velodrome and there is a lot of hype around it.

"It wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't make it as I'm still young but it would be nice to go and not have the pressure. As a 20-year-old, I would be pretty young in the triathlon and I wouldn't really go with any expectation. I'd just go and race and enjoy the home crowd."

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