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Glasgow 2014: Art student warms up

G lasgow 2014 has been etched on the mind of Michael Bremner for some time.

Michael Bremner is determined to make the most of his experience in Australia
Michael Bremner is determined to make the most of his experience in Australia

A communications and design student at Glasgow School of Art, he was given the chance to oversee the development of the hockey logo for the Games in the first few months of 2011. It only served to whet the appetite of the Kelburne and Scotland defender, who just needs to maintain his current rate of progress to make the host nation squad.

"It was great to have a bit of input into the design of it, to make sure the figure wasn't holding the stick the wrong way and get a feel of what went in to the design process," the 20-year-old says. "That was a really good experience for me in light of my degree, just to see how it all works."

Bremner has been playing the game for 10 years since his dad, Alan, dragged him along to Kelburne, where he played for 30 years. The pull of the sport may not have been instant as, for a few years there was a tug-of-war with football, as he progressed to play for Kilmarnock's youth team. But, at 15, a decision had to be made and it is one he has not regretted.

"I'd already been playing for Scotland at under-16 level in hockey and was moving up to under-18 level," he says. "I didn't want to give up playing for Scotland and the potential of going on to play at the Olympics so it was not too difficult a choice."

Given that not a single Scot made the Great Britain men's team for London 2012, such an idea may have appeared fanciful, but Bremner, and Kelburne team-mate and fellow-Scot Alan Forsyth, are both in Sydney for the Australian Youth Olympics Festival which begin on Wednesday and go on until next Sunday.

With the festival featuring 1700 athletes (with 118 from Great Britain) from 19 countries in 18 different sports, it gives Bremner a taste of playing at an international multi-sports event similar to the Commonwealth Games. In the hockey competition, the Great Britain team face Malaysia, Australia – who have won every Commonwealth men's title since 1998 – and the USA.

The heat has been intense, with temperatures of 42 degrees in Sydney last week, but Bremner is loving the experience, aware it can only help his development.

"Last Tuesday, it was like opening an oven door when you went outside and the wind was scorching. Luckily, we didn't have a game and we were just out in Sydney on a day trip so that was fortunate," he said. "We played Australia on Thursday, when thankfully it was cloudy, and lost 5-3. We put in a good performance and we learned quite a lot about ourselves and about the opposition, so we're quite confident we can fix the mistakes and move forward.

"Once we get to the opening ceremony, I will really get to see what it is all about and that will be good. We are staying in university accommodation with [the] cycling [team], so it is a good experience.

"Our preparations have been excellent, We had a training camp in Malaga before Christmas where we worked hard and had some fitness testing as well as playing a couple of games against local club sides.

"We then came back home and worked hard individually over the festive period. I did a lot of running to keep my conditioning up and didn't really get much of a Christmas break. I had a Boxing Day run and a New Year's Day run which we all had to do and that kept us focused. But I can't complain. Having the chance to come out here was something to spur me."

When he returns home this month, Bremner will be back focusing on domestic matters before a heavy international programme for Scotland at the end of the season. But he can hardly get Glasgow 2014 out of his mind.

"I'm really looking forward to it. One of my goals is to make that squad. At the moment, I'm involved with the Scotland senior team and I basically just need to keep my place but it's going to be hard. There will be some tough training and it will be a tough selection process leading up to it but hopefully I'm at an age where I can keep improving and progressing.

"I have to take opportunities like this one in Australia as best I can and gain all the experience I can from playing in this sort of event. This is a really good example of a multi-sport event in a tough international games and I can take this forward. I need to keep progressing at club level over the next few months and take that into the summer when we have some big international matches.

"I can't wait for the Commonwealth Games. I was able to go out to Delhi to observe the last Games as part of the 'Achieve 2014' programme. It was quite hard being so close to it but now I'm looking forward to making the squad for Glasgow. It will give hockey a wider exposure and hopefully we'll get good crowds and the sport will start to take off in Scotland.

"The Olympics gave the sport great exposure and the crowds were unbelievable. Hopefully it will be similar in Glasgow."

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