IN Marc Austin’s younger days, he’d look along the start line and worry how fit his fellow triathletes looked. It doesn’t take a sports psychologist to tell you that is not exactly the perfect mindset when you’re on the verge of a major competition – particularly in a sport that tests you physically and mentally to your maximum.

But Austin has matured significantly in recent years, and he goes into today’s European Championships entirely undaunted as to who will be on the start line alongside him at Strathclyde Park.

That in itself is no mean feat considering his competition includes double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee who is going for his fourth European title, Spain’s world number six, Fernando Alarza and European Sprint Triathlon champion, Richard Varga from Slovakia.

But Austin is in the form of his life having won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in April and the 24-year-old is confident that come this afternoon, he will not be distracted by any of his competitors.

“I’m feeling pretty good and I’m really looking forward to the race,” he said.

“You can get caught up in who’s doing what but I’ve got a race plan and I just tend to go for it every time. I’m going to stick to that - I’m not going to worry about what everyone else is doing.

“I’m definitely getting better at just focusing on myself as I get older. This year, a lot more than previous years, I’ve just been concentrating on what I can do. When I’m training, I’m not really thinking about any other athletes whereas that’s something I used to do a lot.

“Going into the race, I used to look at the other athletes and think oh god, they look fit but now, I’m much better at just focusing on myself and what I want to do. That’s the attitude I’ve been taking into races this year and I’m confident that I can deliver my best in Glasgow.”

Austin’s Commonwealth medal in Gold Coast was hugely impressive and even more so when you consider that he beat both Brownlee brothers onto the podium, with the result signalling Austin’s entry into the big-time.

And while the brutality of each triathlon race means the final result can rarely be predicted, Austin is confident he has given himself the best chance possible of putting on a good showing today.

“I know that I’ve put the work in and so while anything can happen on the day, I feel like I’ve given it my best shot in terms of being as well prepared as I can be,” he said.

“There’s loads of big names on the start list but people are going to have good and bad races, and you don’t know what other people’s preparation has been like so you really can’t predict how it’s going to go.

“I know that I’m ready to put down a good race so hopefully that’ll be enough for a podium spot but if it’s not, it’s not - I can’t control what anyone else does.

“From Commy Games, I’ve now got a template that I know delivered a performance so I can compare sessions now to what I did then and I know how to replicate it or make it better, which is what I’ve done for these Europeans. So hopefully it work for me again.”

That Austin is a Glaswegian does, he admits, make this European Championships even more special. His last major championships appearance in his home city was at Glasgow 2014, where he matched the Brownlees for much of the race before ultimately fading.

But that experience gave him a taste of competing in front of his home crowd – and he can’t wait to do it again.

“It’s really cool to see another event like this in Glasgow - outside of my own competition, it’s amazing to see something like this going on in the city,” he said.

“It’s brilliant to be competing in Scotland. Four years ago, it definitely got the most out of me and I loved the whole experience so I just want another experience like that. At Glasgow 2014, the crowd are able to push me that little bit more and so hopefully that will happen again this time.”

In the women’s race yesterday, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig put in an imperious performance to win her sixth European title. On a glorious day at Strathclyde Park, 36-year-old Spirig, who gave birth to her second child last year, dominated the field in the latter part of the race to take victory ahead of GB’s defending champion, Jess Learmonth.

The Englishwoman made a strong start to the defence of her title, leading as the group finished the swim and for a large part of the bike ride, it was Learmonth and Frenchwoman, Cassandre Beaugrand, who ultimately won bronze, who were out in front.

But Spirig, the 2012 Olympic champion, reeled them in and as the run began, there was only ever going to be one winner with the Swiss looking by far the strongest of the trio, in the end crossing the line 46 seconds ahead of Learmonth.

“It feels amazing, I’m really happy,” she said of winning her sixth European title.

“I think every medal at Europeans, Worlds or Olympics is extremely special and you should just enjoy it.

“There were a few key moments (in the race). I came out of the water 40 seconds down, but that wasn’t a problem for me. I knew I’m probably stronger in the second part. It was key when I caught up with Jess and Cassandre and so I attacked straight away.”

Scotland’s sole representative in the women’s race, Beth Potter, finished a hugely creditable 27th, six places behind her GB compatriot and 2016 European champion, India Lee.

Meanwhile, with the European Athletics Championships in full swing in Berlin with a record 17 Scots in the GB team, there is more positive news for the sport in this country. The FPSG Scottish Senior Championships will take place at Grangemouth this weekend with a 22 percent rise in entries compared to last year.

Some of the star names who will be competing for the £2000 prize pot are Athletics World Cup bronze medal winner, Neil Gourlay, and fresh from the European Championships in Berlin, Chris Bennett and Kirsten McAslan. Also in action will be Scotland’s up-and-coming sprint talent, Alisha Rees.