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Cram says Bolt's appearance at Glasgow 2014 would be highlight of 'great Games'

STEVE Cram, who won the 800m and 1500m the last time the Commonwealth Games were held in Scotland, believes that Usain Bolt will compete in Glasgow in 2014.

The presence of the charismatic Jamaican, who retained his sprint titles at the London Olympics, would be a massive boost for Games, and Cram said: "I saw him in Brussels at the Diamond League meeting when he was talking about doing the long jump in Glasgow.

"I doubt if he will do that, but if he's fit and healthy I think there is a reasonable chance he will compete in the 100m, the 200m and the relay. He's a showman, he likes big championships and he hasn't won a Commonwealth Games gold medal yet."

Bolt has indicated that he will retire after the 2016 Olympics – adding that he might switch to football or cricket – and as Cram pointed out Glasgow will almost certainly be his last chance to add a Commonwealth gold to his collection.

"What I love about Bolt," said the former multi-middle distance champion and record holder, "is that the big championships mean something to him. He relishes the big stage.

"What Glasgow has got going for it is that the Games are being held in the summer. The European season is a major focus for Bolt but there's nothing happening on the circuit during these two weeks. What's he going to do instead? He could go home, but he might as well come to Glasgow."

Bolt would be as big a name as any to grace Hampden Park, where the athletics events are being held in 2014. Cram, who is the BBC's chief athletics commentator, will be at the national stadium to cover the track and field events having starred in the previous, and rather ill-fated, Games which were held in Edinburgh in 1986.

Now 52 and still looking as fit as a butcher's dog, the Jarrow-born former athlete was just nine years old when the Games were first staged in Edinburgh in 1970 – but was at the height of his fame when they returned to the Scottish capital 16 years later. So much so, that he had to change his accommodation to avoid the chasing media pack.

"Athletics in those days was massive," he recalled. "I didn't stay in any athletes' village after the 1980 Olympics in Moscow because I didn't think it was conducive to performing well. And even although I used an assumed name – Steve Appleby – when I checked into my hotel, I still had to move when the media caught up with me."

Cram's winning time of 1-43.22 in the 800m, when he finished ahead of Scotland's Tom McKean and England's Peter Elliott, remains the Commonwealth Games record. "I was in such good shape then," he said. "As a performance that was one of the best of my career. If it had been somewhere warm with a pacemaker who knows what the time would have been."

The days when Scotland could produce athletes of the calibre of McKean – who Cram still sees a couple of times a year – and 1986 gold medal winner Liz Lynch (now McColgan) are a fading memory. Scotland won eight track and field medals in 1970, including four gold, and six in total in 1986, but the prospects in 18 months' time don't look good.

Nor were they in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, when his partner, Allison Curbishley, was Scotland's sole athletics medallist, but much more is expected of a home Games, particularly when they run so close to the referendum on independence.

As an Englishman, Cram can't be expected to be anything other than be diplomatic on the subject, even if his partner is likely to have more trenchant views.

"At the London Olympics people came to watch the athletics – if we hadn't won any gold medals it would still have been a great Games," he pointed out. "But you're right – it's great to have home success. Lynsey Sharp is probably the best [Scottish] prospect at the moment, but in terms of somebody winning a gold medal that is probably a bit of a stretch as things stand."

Although the Olympics were seized upon by pro-union politicians in Scotland, who trumpeted Team GB as an example of better together, Cram says that the Glasgow Games should not be similarly hijacked.

"It would be nice to celebrate Glasgow and Scotland putting on a great Games, which I'm sure they will, and not get too jingoistic about it," he said. "Also, the public always sniff a politician being opportunisitic – whether it's getting a gold medallist to Downing Street or whatever. People see through that."

Steve Cram was speaking before the University of Glasgow Chancellor's Dinner in his role as an ambassador for Clydesdale Bank, who have sponsored the dinner for the last 15 years.

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