I HAVE been watching the Olympic Games for almost 30 years. My earliest memories are from Barcelona 1992, although there are only a few, such as Sally Gunnell winning gold.

As each Olympics came and went, more and more moments stuck in my mind. There was rower Steve Redgrave winning in Atlanta, cyclist Chris Hoy winning in Beijing, and a few badminton matches which became more relevant as I began to harbour hopes of making the Olympic team myself.

These are outliers though, as the rest of my Olympic memories are all of athletics. Linford Christie, the aforementioned Gunnell, Cathy Freeman, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis – I can still recall their winning moments all these years later.

This summer, there may well be some significant performances to add to that list. It has been 33 years since a Scot won an individual athletics medal at the Olympics. I can’t remember Liz McColgan and Yvonne Murray winning silver and bronze respectively in Seoul in 1988, two of the outstanding results in Scottish athletics’ history.

This summer could see that change.

With the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Games, which now seem certain to go ahead, only 68 days away, the track and field season is beginning to really kick into gear.

There has been a smattering of races already but it is over the next few weeks that racing in Europe will really begin.

And it is then we will begin to get an idea of the form of the athletes who have their sights set on making history for Scotland.

Already, Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie have begun their competitive season, with both comfortably breaking two minutes for the 800m and Reekie setting a personal best to pip her training partner for victory at a race in the US.

This week, Jake Wightman will open his season at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, with the 1500m specialist having come out of lockdown last year absolutely flying, setting personal bests in both the 800m and the 1500m.

Wightman and Muir already have major championship medals, but Olympic silverware is another level entirely. However, if they can both build on their 2020 form, it is possible they could elbow their way on to the podium.

Then there is Callum Hawkins, who has finished fourth in the last two World Championship marathons, Andy Butchart in the 3000m, Lynsey Sharp in the 800m, as well as Wightman’s fellow 1500m runners, Neil Gourley, Josh Kerr and Chris O’Hare.

Having the potential to win Olympic silverware is very different to actually winning it.

To ensure everything goes right on the day, a moment these athletes have been building up to for five years now, is a daunting prospect. As well as having done the training, remained illness and injury-free and got the tactics right, winning an Olympic medal requires a huge dollop of luck.

So it is far from a forgone conclusion that any of these individuals will be even close to the podium in Tokyo, never mind on it.

However, the fact there are so many Scots in the mix is both astonishing and unprecedented.

And that is even before we get to the Paralympics, in which up to a dozen Scots have an excellent shout of winning medals.

Sixty-eight days is a long time in the world of elite sport, and a lot can happen before the Olympics even begin.

But there is an exciting few months ahead, and it could well end with a Scot winning an individual Olympic medal for the first time in more than 30 years.

AND ANOTHER THING I T is no secret that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been desperate in recent years to appear younger and cooler.

The Olympics, the IOC fear, will be overshadowed by this new wave of “modern sports”, which is why surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing are new additions to the programme for the Games this summer.

There have also been talks about including the likes of parkour to the Olympic programme and while purists are reluctant to invite these more modern sports into the inner sanctum, there are few who would disagree that these sports include the fundamental traits needed for success in any Olympic discipline – physical excellence, skill and mental strength.

However, the IOC is not stopping there. Last week, the IOC’s latest project began, the Olympic Virtual Series, which will include five virtual sports – baseball, cycling, auto racing, rowing and sailing – and run for just over a month.

The aim, say the IOC, is to “mobilise virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences”.

Prior to the launch of this series, the IOC have talked about introducing esports into the Olympics proper but, for now at least, they have settled on a stand-alone series.

I’m all for widening the appeal of the Olympics and grabbing the attention of the largest possible audience, but this is a step too far. Stop with the madness. Esports are not sport. They are not even close. Feel free to like gaming, love it even. But do not think it has a legitimate place in the Olympics.

It doesn’t, and it never will.