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Could these be the First Ladies of Glasgow's Games . . .

BEING up on day one of the Commonwealth Games is not for the lily-livered as the nation's eyes eagerly swivel between events in the hope of someone getting the medal count rolling.

Aileen McGlynn and pilot Louise Haston pose with their new tandem track bike on which they hope to win gold in the sprint B tandem event today. Picture: Colin Mearns
Aileen McGlynn and pilot Louise Haston pose with their new tandem track bike on which they hope to win gold in the sprint B tandem event today. Picture: Colin Mearns

While Michael Jamieson and the swimmers could well do the honours in the pool or the judo contingent on the mat, there is every chance that Scotland's first podium visit may come courtesy of two wheels.

In action at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome today will be Scots Aileen McGlynn and Laura Cluxton, both set to contest the women's para-sport sprint B tandem. Triple Paralympic champion McGlynn is partnered with sighted pilot Louise Haston, while Cluxton, a newcomer who has burst onto the scene over the past year, will be paired with Fiona Duncan. Both duos will have two shots at a medal with the sprint today followed by the 1km time trial B tandem on Sunday.

Paisley-born McGlynn, 41, is arguably the first lady of Scottish cycling. She goes into the Games displaying her trademark steely determination offset by the sage philosophy that only years of competitive experience can bring.

McGlynn, who is registered blind, competed in the 2012 Paralympics in London taking a silver and bronze. "Having done a home Games already I do feel more ready for Glasgow," she says. "The crowds were phenomenal in London. I've experienced that now and hope it is going to give me a good grounding on what it will be like.

"It was quite hard too, particularly when I was riding [the 3km] pursuit because I couldn't hear any of the splits being shouted by my coach.

"I think the thing is to enjoy the crowd this time. London probably wasn't that enjoyable for me because it was always about winning that gold medal and when I didn't get that I felt like a failure. I'm going to make sure that I do enjoy the experience and whatever happens will happen."

She and Haston consider England and Australia to be their biggest threats for gold in what is a strong field. Riding for England will be reigning double world champion Sophie Thornhill and her pilot Helen Scott, while Australia will field Paralympic and triple world champion Felicity Johnson and two-time world silver medallist Brandie O'Connor, with their respective pilots of Holly Takos and Breanna Hargrave.

Thornhill alongside Rachel James took gold in both the women's 1km time trial and sprint tandem B events at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with Australian duo O'Connor and Hargrave having to settle for silver. In Glasgow, James will be partnered with Rhiannon Henry representing Wales.

Thornhill and James clocked 1:05.912 in the women's 1km time trial in April but that was at altitude in Aguascalientes. The official world record according to the website of the UCI is held by Australian Johnson who, alongside her then pilot Stephanie Morton, posted 1:08.714 in Carson, California in 2012. The pair also hold the world record for the B tandem flying 200m of 11.456 set in Melbourne three years ago.

"You can't count anyone out," says Haston. "At the end of the day anything can happen. There isn't a lot of recent results for some of the nations to go by. The Australian tandem pairings are both new. So, you don't have a clue what anyone is going to do."

Haston, 33, from Edinburgh made the switch from athletics to track cycling in 2009 as part of sportscotland institute of sport's Gold4Glasgow talent ID programme. She and McGlynn have clicked in the short time they have been training together since the end of last year.

"You want a pilot who can handle a tandem at high speed and Louise is really good at that," says McGlynn. "I have no issues there. There is no twitching, it's all very solid."

With para-sport track cycling included in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, Glasgow 2014 marks their joint debut. "I'm glad to be paired with Aileen because she has experienced massive competitions like the Paralympics before," says Haston. "The biggest I've been to before is the British Championships so this is a bit different. Aileen is able to talk me through it, though, and hopefully help settle my nerves."

They are still undecided - or perhaps keen not to be drawn at this stage - as to which of the tandem events may prove their strongest suit. "We have a split decision on this one," says Haston. Although when pushed McGlynn concedes: "The sprint is probably potentially more so but it all depends what happens on the day. I'm hoping we get on the podium for both. I think the sprint may be a better chance of a gold medal."

Ultimately, expect it to be quick. "I'd like to go faster than we've ever gone which is a 1:09.00 in the time trial, so if we do that I'll be well happy," says McGlynn. "I think we definitely have that in us. If we can get that first lap bang on, there is no reason we can't achieve that. For the flying 200m qualifying in the sprint, we'd like to get as close to 11 seconds as we can. That's the goal."

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