Triathlete Grant Sheldon reckons he can mix it with the best in the world at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, as he aims to achieve the pinnacle of his career.
The Hamilton 27-year-old has qualified for his third successive Games, having started at Glasgow 2014 and continued through Gold Coast 2018, finishing 14th and 17th, respectively.
While Sheldon insists a good performance will be enough for him this time around, he would love to come home with a medal.
He said: “Looking at the guys, on paper, it’s definitely the hardest field there has been in triathlon, even without the Brownlees [past champions Jonny and Alistair].
“A medal is always on the cards. It’s a deep field, but it’s not ridiculously deep, and I definitely have the capability to mix it with the best – but we’ll just need to wait and see.
“Winning a medal would be super-special, it’s what every athlete dreams of – a medal at a major Games, and wearing a Saltire on your chest just makes it extra-special.
“It would be the pinnacle of my career.”
Sheldon says it’s funny to think how long ago it was when he made his Commonwealth Games debut at Strathclyde Park, and says he will do everything he can to make sure he’s ready for this one on July 29.
He said: “It feels quite strange to think this is my third Commonwealth Games!
“It seems not so long ago at all I was 19 years old and super-excited for my first one, and now I’ve hopefully got a bit more experience now, I know what to expect, and hope to do as well as I dog.
“I think the first time it’s always a bit of a circus and very easy to get a little bit too excited or too nervous.
“I can treat it like any other race. Obviously it’s a little bit more special, representing Scotland, and being almost at home means there will be lots of friends and family there, but it’s still another race.
“I know what I need to do, and to be professional about it.
“The way I look at it is this is my major goal for the season, so I’ll aim to peak for that and other races have been stepping stones to that. I’ve maybe been in 90 per cent shape, 95 per cent shape, but for the Commonwealth Games the target is to be 100 per cent ready.
“To be honest, it has been a funny few years for me.
“I’ve struggled with performances, but it’s coming together and I’m getting closer to putting that performance together.
“If I can give a good performance I’ll be happy, and what that means to me will probably look different.
“I don’t really know what that’s going to look like.”
Sheldon is so focused on that July 29 date that he’s not really looking at other events.
He added: “I’ve got six or seven weeks, so my plan is to be in France for most of that.
“I’ll train hard, I’ll get my head down.
“I’ve got a French Grand Prix race right in the middle of it, just to stay race-ready, and break up training a little bit.
“It is a bit of a prep race, but it’s pretty much head down from here on in.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.