Nearly three years after conquering the European junior stage, Rotherham pole vaulter Adam Hague is looking to make his mark amongst the senior ranks as he heads to the Gold Coast as one of the favourites to take home a medal.
The 21-year-old’s recent 5.65m vault saw him finally beat his previous best set in 2015. But despite his recent improvements, it was not long ago that the Sheffield Hallam student was facing a fight to be fit for the Games after missing most of last season through injury.
“Whether I’d get selected was going to be hit and miss, to be fair,” says Hague. “The main focus was just to try and get better and get back to full fitness because there was nothing I could do about being selected so I just had to get on with it.
“There’s obviously more pressure on me now that I’ve jumped a bit higher and I’m in medal contention, but I aim to challenge that and embrace it because it feels good having that added pressure of knowing I can get a medal so I just see it as a good thing.”
The British indoor champion will also be joined by long-time training partner Luke Cutts who, being the British record-holder in the event, has been an “inspirational” figure throughout Hague’s career. Both share a friendly, but competitive rivalry, with the pair “bouncing off each other all the time” in training and at competitions.
Thurnscoe vaulter Cutts will certainly not be someone to under-estimate, with his experience as an Olympian and a Commonwealth silver medallist four years ago making him one of the big names to watch out for.
There’s obviously more pressure on me now that I’ve jumped a bit higher and I’m in medal contention, but I aim to challenge that and embrace it because it feels good having that added pressure of knowing I can get a medal.Adam Hague
Meanwhile, Leeds-based Laura Weightman also will also be aiming to once again medal in the competition after grabbing silver in the 1,500m in Glasgow last time out.
This time, however, the Northumberland-born athlete will instead venture into the 5,000m mix, in what will be only her second attempt at the distance.
Once again, the 26-year-old athlete faces strong competition in the form of 2017 world champion Hellen Obiri, who despite losing out to Weightman in 2014, enters as the clear favourite for gold ahead of her Kenyan team-mate Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi. Despite this, Weightman will be confident that she can at least challenge for a medal behind the Kenyan duo, looking set for a tough British battle with Scotland’s Eilish McColgan and Steph Twell amongst others.
Elsewhere, British race-walk champion Tom Bosworth is heading for his first Commonwealth campaign and his first international medal after a heart-breaking disqualification saw him lose out at the World Championships last year. The Leeds-based athlete will also be joined by his training-partner at the Leeds race-walk centre, Callum Wilkinson, with the ever-improving world junior champion facing only his second senior international championships in his short career.
However, both will be up against tough opposition in the men’s 20 kilometre race-walk, taking on the likes of African record holder Lebogang Shange and Olympic medallist Dane Bird-Smith.
While normally stepping onto the start-line as team-mates, England’s Gemma Bridge and Wales’s Bethan Davies enter the women’s 20km race-walk purely as opponents, with the Leeds-based pair looking set to slug it out for medals in another engrossing battle of Britain.
Late selections also see Leeds 800m runner Alexandra Bell finally taking on the world’s elite after sitting on the fringes of international selection for three years
Twenty-year-old Sheffield Hallam student Alicia Barrett gets another stab at the senior international stage, hoping to use it as a stepping stone to find her feet in the senior ranks.
Elsewhere, Para-athlete Callum Hall has come a long way since he was left paralysed in an accident with a sea urchin in 2012, with the Yeadon athlete’s first international call-up seeing him lining up in the T54 marathon, travelling alongside his wife and paratriathlete Jade Jones-Hall.
Grimsby-born runner Zac Shaw will also be aiming to make amends for his disappointing World Championship campaign last year, in the T12 100m.