Learmonth gets Commonwealth call after Euro disappointment

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Guy Learmonth is gearing up for his biggest challenge after being named in the Scotland team for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

With only 300 days to go until the start of the Glasgow Games, the 800 metres runner from Berwick has been confirmed in the first wave of names announced by the Scotland selectors.

Scotland’s 800m champion posted two late-season qualifying standard performances at the two-lap distance after missing out on the European U23 Championships earlier in the summer much to his frustration.

He is one of only two men’s track representatives announced by the Scotland team this week.

“It should be a fantastic occasion,” Learmonth said. “There will be 40,000 fans inside Hampden Park and it will be the biggest event I have ever competed in. Athletes always say it is a special moment competing in a home Games, so it is something I am really looking forward to.”

Learmonth has now put behind him the disappointment of missing out on the European Championships in Helsinki earlier this year.

“By way of compensation I don’t think this is too bad,” he said.

Learmonth fully expected to be selected after running the qualifying time he needed, but he admitted: “I have achieved the qualification time twice, but to get the call, confirming that I am in, is still a special moment.

“I have ten months to prepare, and all my training will be geared to getting me in peak condition for the event.

“The 800m heats are being held on July 29, so that is the date I will be focusing on. All my hard work between now and then will hopefully come to fruition on that day.This will be my first senior championships, and being in Scotland, roared on by a big home crowd, it will hopefully give me a boost.

“I will be targeting a place in the final, but I know it won’t be easy and I will have to knuckle down in training so that I am in the best possible shape.”

The 20-year-old, a student at Loughborough University, plans to sit down with his coaches, George Gandy and Henry Gray, over the next couple of weeks, to work out a full and detailed training schedule.

“The hard work starts now,” he said.

Learmonth will again compete indoors during the winter, and will select a few outdoor meetings to build him up to Glasgow 2014.

“The Commonwealth Games will really shape my whole season,” he said.

“I will probably go back to California for a spell and I may do some altitude training again, but I am hoping I don’t have the same reaction I had this season.

“When I came back I felt really sick and it had an impact on my year.

“I had a difficult season in 2013, but I still had some good runs towards the end. I got the qualifying times for the Commonwealth Games and that really ticked all the right boxes as far as the selectors were concerned.

“I am really looking forward to the Games. It seems like a long way off at the moment, but it will soon come around. I am sure it will be amazing.”

One of Learmonth’s coaches, Henry Gray said: “I am delighted for Guy. His selection is the result of a lot of dedication and hard work he has put in over the years.

“He has missed out on major championships in the past, but to be part of a home Games will be something special and I know he is looked forward to it very much indeed.

“He will be cheered on by the Hampden roar and hopefully that will put an extra spring in his step.

“We will sit down with Guy over the coming weeks to work out a detailed training programme so he goes into the Games in the best possible shape.”