With little more than six weeks before the action begins, the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council has revealed its largest ever team, with a total of 117 local athletes participating across 14 sports, during 11 days of world class competition at Glasgow 2014.
Replicating the incredible haul of ten medals from the 2010 Games is a very tall order but there are a number of genuine contenders who are ready to challenge the best in the Commonwealth. Across boxing, cycling and shooting, Paddy Barnes, Steven Ward, Wendy Houvenaghel, Martyn Irvine, Sean Downey, Philip Lavery and David Calvert will all be seeking to repeat their medal winning exploits of four years ago.
In that search for medals they are joined by, amongst others, Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly, Aileen Reid, Lisa Kearney and Madeline Perry while both the male and female bowling squads will also fancy their chances on the Kelvingrove greens. Three paralympians make the team with James Brown being piloted by Dave Readle in the track cycling while Jason Smyth and Bethany Firth both compete in the mainstream competition as their preferred events are not available within the limited para-sport program that, uniquely at the Commonwealth Games, is integrated into the general schedule of events.
A Northern Ireland netball squad makes its debut at the Games while both judo and triathlon make a return, having not been included within the program for Delhi 2010. Overall, the team represents a broad cross section of local sport with the seasoned campaigners being joined by many younger athletes tasting international multi-sport competition for the first time, and undoubtedly using the Glasgow experience as a stepping stone towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.