Region's sporting stars going for gold at Commonwealth Games

MEDAL HOPE: Aimee Willmott

MEDAL HOPE: Aimee Willmott

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THE opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games takes place in Glasgow tonight, with the first of the sporting action scheduled for tomorrow morning. In total, 19 competitors from the North-East and North Yorkshire will be competing in the Commonwealths, and Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson assesses their medal prospects.

Athletics

ALYSON DIXON
(Sunderland, marathon)

The Northern Echo:

The Wearsider heads to Glasgow in the best form of her life, having shattered her marathon personal best in Brighton last year in order to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. Her ranking in the field means she will probably have to improve again to claim a medal, but her recent performances over 10k suggest she is capable of springing a surprise. 
Medal chance: 3/5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JADE JONES
(Middlesbrough, 1,500m T54)

The Northern Echo: GLASGOW GOLD? Jade Jones

This is the first year that disability athletics events have been included as part of the full Commonwealth programme, and Jones heads to Glasgow as one of England’s leading medal hopes. The 18-year-old made the 1,500m final at the London Paralympics two years ago, and should not be lacking in stamina having switched some of her training in the last 12 months towards preparing for marathons.
Medal chance: 4/5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RICHARD KILTY
(Stockton, 100m, 4x100m relay)

The Northern Echo: TIGHT FINISH: James Ellington, centre, wins the 200m final during day three of the Sainsbury's British Championships at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. Richard Kilty, right, faces a wait to find out if he has made the British team for next month’s Worl

Since surprising just about everyone when he claimed the World Indoor 100m title this spring, things haven’t really gone to plan for Kilty during the outdoor season. He has struggled for fitness and form, with his stated ambition of breaking the ten-second barrier looking somewhat ambitious. Making the final of the individual event would be an achievement, but provided the British relay squad get the baton around, they should finish in the top three.
Medal chance: 4/5 

WILL SMITH
(Brompton, 1,500m T54)

The Northern Echo: ON TRACK: Will Smith, who will compete in the 1500m T54 at the Commonwealth Games

Having only progressed to the senior ranks a couple of years ago, North Yorkshire-born Smith will be making his senior championship debut in Glasgow. A former World Junior Championship gold medallist, the 18-year-old boasts an abundance of natural talent, but he will be competing against a strong field that includes six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir.

Medal chance: 2/5 

CHRIS TOMLINSON
(Middlesbrough, long jump)

The Northern Echo: MAKING HIS MARK: Chris Tomlinson will be back in Stratford in July

It has been another injury-hit campaign for Tomlinson, who recently relocated back to his native Teesside from London, but the last couple of weeks have suggested a renaissance in Glasgow is possible. He jumped 7.94m to win the London Anniversary Games last weekend, and any improvement at the Commonwealths would see him challenging the likes of Olympic champion Greg Rutherford for a medal.
Medal chance: 3/5 

LAURA WEIGHTMAN
(Alnwick, 1,500m)

The Northern Echo: Today's action includes the north east's Laura Weightman competing in the heats of the 1500 metres.

A finalist in the 1,500m at the 2012 Olympics, Weightman has been in superb form this season, breaking her personal best and finishing in the top eight at some of the leading Diamond League meetings. The women’s 1,500m field is one of the strongest at the Games though, so the Morpeth Harrier has no room for error if she is to claim her first senior medal.
Medal chance: 3/5 

KATE AVERY
(Shildon, 10,000m)

The Northern Echo:

22-year-old Kate Avery received a late call-up to the Commonwealth Games to replace Jo Pavey in the 10,000m after the four-time Olympian pulled out of the event to concentrate on the 5,000m. The Shildon runner ranked fourth in the 5,000m and 10,000m, narrowly missing out on selection. At the European Team Championships in June, Avery finished ninth in the 3,000m setting an outdoor personal best of 8:56.24.
Medal chance: 2/5

 

Boxing

WARREN BAISTER
(Sunderland, heavyweight)

The Northern Echo: DREAMS OVER: Warren Baister at Sunderland Boxing Club

Baister narrowly missed out on a place at the London Olympics when he failed to come through the final qualifying event, but the Wearsider has remained in the amateur ranks in the hope of making it to Rio in two years time. The Commonwealths are an important stepping stone along the way, but the men’s heavyweight division looks strong and he will have to be at his best to negotiate what will be a tough schedule.
Medal chance: ***

SAVANNAH MARSHALL
(Hartlepool, middleweight)

The Northern Echo: CORNER CHAT: Savannah Marshall gets words of advice from her corner in between rounds

Marshall freely admits she has unfinished business to attend to at the Commonwealths after she lost her opening bout in the 2012 Olympics despite heading to London as a strong favourite to claim the gold medal. Still the reigning world champion, the Hartlepool Headland fighter is the strongest fighter in the Commonwealths on paper by a distance, and should make history as women’s boxing makes its debut at the Games.
Medal chance: *****

PAT McCORMACK
(Birtley, lightweight)

This has already been something of a breakthrough season for McCormack, who became national amateur champion when he won the England Boxing Elite Championship finals in Liverpool in April. That success effectively cemented his place at the Commonwealths, and while the Birtley teenager does not boast the experience of some of his rivals, his big-hitting style means no one will relish taking him on.
Medal chance: 3/5 

 

Diving

JACK LAUGHER
(Ripon, 3m springboard, synchronised 3m springboard)

The Northern Echo: Jack Laugher in action at London 2012

Described as ‘the next Tom Daley’, Laugher failed to live up to his billing as he crashed out at the preliminary stage of the 2012 Olympics. He has been in sensational form since then though, winning his first senior World Cup medal in Shanghai last weekend, and has an outstanding chance of claiming individual gold next Thursday
Medal chance: 5/5 

 

Mountain Biking

JESSICA ROBERTS
(Northallerton, Mountain Bike Cross Country)

The Northern Echo:

Northallerton raised Jessica Roberts has been selected to represent Team Scotland in Mountain Bike Cross Country. The 25-year-old comes from a triathlon background but started cross country cycling at university and says she has "never looked back". Roberts joins 2013 British national cross-country champions Grant Ferguson and Lee Craigie along with Gareth Montgomery and Kenta Gallagher on Team Scotland's Mountain Bike team.

 

Lawn Bowls

STUART AIREY
(Sunderland, triples, fours)

Born and raised in Sunderland, but now based in Carlisle, where he plays for Wigton Bowls Club, Airey missed out on a gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi when he and his partner, Mervyn King, threw away a nine-point lead to lose to South Africa in the final. Competing in triples and fours this time around, he is determined to put that right as he makes his second Commonwealths appearance.
Medal chance: 4/5 

 

Squash

JENNY DUNCALF
(Harrogate, singles, doubles, mixed doubles)

A former world number two, Duncalf claimed a silver medal in the singles competition at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Based in Harrogate, the 31-year-old remains as competitive as ever, with her World Team Championships silver in 2012 underlining both her own ability and the all-round strength of England’s women. Another medal is Glasgow is a distinct possibility.
Medal chance: 4/5

JAMES WILLSTROP
(Harrogate, singles, doubles, mixed doubles)

Having claimed silver medals at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, Harrogate-born Willstrop will be desperate to go one better in Glasgow. A former world number one, who is still ranked in the current top six, Willstrop has won at some of the leading squash events in the world, but his stiffest competition this month could come from domestic rival Nick Matthew, who was selected as England’s flag bearer yesterday.
Medal chance: 4/5

 

Swimming

AIMEE WILLMOTT
(Middlesbrough, 400m Individual Medley, 4x200m freestyle relay, 200m Individual Medley, 200m butterfly, 400m freestyle)

The Northern Echo: FLYING THE FLAG: Aimee Wilmott

Having narrowly missed out on the 400 IM final at both the Olympics and World Championships, Willmott will be determined to make the medal shake up in Glasgow. She could realistically finish with three or four medals, such is her growing all-round strength, and her opening night head-to-head with Hannah Miley could provide one of the highlights of the Games.
Medal chance: 5/5 

 

Table Tennis

PAUL DRINKHALL
(Loftus, singles, doubles, mixed doubles, team)

The Northern Echo: Paul Drinkhall

A double Commonwealth medallist in 2010, winning silver in the team event and bronze in the mixed doubles, Drinkhall is targeting more silverware in Glasgow. He became the first English player to win on the world tour for 18 years earlier this year when he won the Spanish Open, and should be part of an England men’s team that challenges for gold. An individual medal is also possible given his fine form in the last few months.
Medal chance: 5/5

KARINA LE FEVRE
(Stockton, team, doubles, mixed doubles)

Another product of the Ormesby Table Tennis Club on Teesside, 21-year-old La Fevre will compete in three different events in Glasgow, having been part of the women’s team that finished an agonising fourth in Delhi four years ago. She will partner Tin-Tin Ho in the women’s doubles and Sam Walker in the mixed doubles, but the team competition could again represent her best medal chance.
Medal chance: 3/5 

DANNY REED
(Hutton Rudby, team, doubles, mixed doubles)

Raised in Hutton Rudby, but now based in Vienna, where he plays table tennis in the Austrian League, Reed has emerged as a key member of the English team in the last couple of years. A former Ormesby team-mate of Drinkhall’s, he will link up with his fellow North-Easterner in the team competition, as well as partnering Sam Walker and Kelly Sibley in the doubles events.
Medal chance: 4/5

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