A SENSE of eager anticipation has been fluttering inside Ross Paterson for more than eight years now.

Given the honour as a promising 15 year-old of carrying the Queen’s Baton through the streets of his hometown of Paisley ahead of Glasgow 2014, Paterson admits he “wasn’t fast enough” to then earn a place on the Scotland team that went to Gold Coast four years later.

He is certainly fast enough now. The T37/38 athlete – who has cerebral palsy that affects the right-hand side of his body – won European silver over 400m in 2018 but is now focusing on the shorter distances. A recent personal best (albeit wind-assisted so not an official record) of 11.79 over 100m at the British Championships in Manchester indicates he is a man in form.

The Commonwealth Games is something that has been in Paterson’s sights ever since he got that first flavour of it eight years ago, making his involvement in Birmingham a significant personal milestone.

“I can’t wait to pull on the Scotland vest and I’ll be bursting with pride,” he says. “It’s my first Commonwealth Games and I’m already excited to be on that starting line alongside some big names.

“It’s a dream come true for me. I got to carry the Queen’s Baton in 2014 around Paisley which was an amazing experience. I had just really started my athletics career the year before and a few of my friends got selected and seeing them perform at Glasgow gave me the desire to one day to compete at a Commonwealth Games too.

“I’ve moved down from 400m to 100m so my training has been different to build up my speed. It took a while to adjust to the changes but I’m getting the hang of it now.

“My PB at the British champs is classed as unofficial because of the wind but it’s still good to see my time coming down. It was another run-out ahead of the Games so I was happy with that.

“That’s been my career goal ever since and that’s what I’ve been striving towards so the fact it’s finally here is incredible. I’m didn’t make the opening ceremony unfortunately but I’m planning on being at the closing ceremony wearing my kilt so I’m excited to do that.”

Paterson nearly never made it to Birmingham at all. The curse of Covid struck in the spring shortly before the full-time nursery worker was due to head to race in Dubai where he had hoped to post the necessary Games qualifying time. That was a setback but thankfully a later opportunity arose. Even then, however, it wasn’t straightforward.

“I was really stressed for a while,” revealed the 23 year-old. “I was meant to go to Dubai but got Covid six days before so couldn’t go. So I didn’t think I was going to be able to post the qualifying time.

“I was very nervous and uptight when I got back to work after isolating for 10 days. So I went to Coventry instead to race there but the wind was horrendous and I got a terrible time. That left me with just one last shot in the 100m final on the Sunday.

“I finished in eighth place which meant your team manager had to make a case for you. And I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it. I was due to get a phone call and it didn’t come so I got sent home from work as I started to get a migraine at the thought of missing out. And then the phone call came later on in the day which was such a relief. I just wish they had called earlier to save me from that stress!”

There will be a few familiar faces in the Scotland team alongside him, most notably Jemma Reekie, an old pal from training at the famous Kilbarchan AAC.

“Jemma was at the Scotland academy at the same time as me and she’s fantastic,” he adds. “She always says hello and asks how I’m getting on whenever we bump into each other. There are a lot of great athletes selected and it’s just nice to be in the same Scotland team as them.”

Paterson isn’t making any wild proclamations about winning a medal but, should he end up getting one, already knows where he’d love to show it off.

“Anything can happen on the day and I’ve worked hard for it,” he adds. “So we’ll see how it goes. If I was to win a medal I’d love to get the chance to go on the pitch at St Mirren and show it to the fans. The club tweeted me a good luck message when I got selected and as a season ticket holder that meant the world to me.”