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Coach: chance to claim Glasgow 2014 places starts here

Chris Volley, the national coach, has told Scotland's triathlon hopefuls that places at the Commonwealth Games remain up for grabs as the countdown to qualify for Glasgow begins in earnest.

The 2014 season begins this afternoon in Edinburgh with the New Year's Day Triathlon, a traditional staging post for the sport's younger prospects to signal their intent. With only World Series high-flyer, David McNamee, selected for Team Scotland so far, others must hit the road to achieve the standards required for the Commonwealths by the cut-off date of May 18.

Up to six athletes, three men and three women, could potentially take their spots in the individual races in Strathclyde Park, with teams of four required for the relays. "There are likely to be some events in the southern hemisphere in April/May time that we'll encourage athletes to go to so we can get a full team," Volley said. "That would give us maximum exposure and maximum chance for the team relay event. That's going to be about finding the fastest athletes we can for the individual and then seeing who can scrub up for the team event two days later."

The veteran Stephen Clark will be favourite to regain the title in Edinburgh with propsects Andrew Smith and Gary Milne among those looking to prove their worth. All sit far behind McNamee in the domestic firmament but there is a healthy pursuit of the Leeds-based Scot, led by Marc Austin, the world junior silver medallist, and his contemporary Grant Sheldon.

"They've raced very competitively against some of the best in the world at senior level," said Volley. "You might call them upstarts but they've got every chance of getting their place in Glasgow by right. Plus we have Ritchie Nicholls, the European Half-Ironman champion, in the mix and Cameron Milne. So we have four guys fighting out for a spot.

"Ritchie's biking is exceptional and his running is as strong as anyone. It would be nice to see him go head to head with Jonny or Ali Brownlee, or Javier Gomez, and see how he fares because we haven't had a chance to see that."

Volley still requires good women and true to step forward. Natalie Milne, a relative latecomer to the sport, won a place in last year's World Grand Final through consistent displays on the circuit. Edinburgh-bound Catherine Park could come through, while another Leeds-based contender, Shona Thomson, is keen to follow her cousin, the Olympic athlete Freya Ross, into the elite.

Fingers are crossed at Triathlon Scotland that one or more raises a hand. "There are not many other girls putting themselves forward," Volley acknowledged. "We're lacking the strength in depth we've got in the men, but the quality is there. Florie McLeish at Stirling has represented Britain at junior level. She'll only be 18 at the time of the Games. It's quite a challenge but, knowing her mindset, she's up for it."

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