LAURA HALFORD can’t wait for the rhythmic gymnastics to begin at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow tomorrow (Thursday) after performing her routine at a virtually empty SECC Precinct venue on the north bank of the River Clyde on Tuesday, writes Danny Hall.
The double British and Welsh champion from Cricklade was delighted with her run-through on the competition carpet and believes her preparations have gone perfectly.
And on the eve of the showpiece event, her sport received a major shot in the arm when team-mate Frankie Jones, an Olympic and Commonwealth Games veteran, was chosen to carry the Welsh flag at this evening's opening ceremony.
“We were going to give the opening ceremony a miss and watch it on the TV screens instead as we start our competition first thing the following morning,” said Laura.
“But when we heard about Frankie’s honour we decided we wanted to march with the team around Celtic Park and then dash back for an early night. It will probably help take our minds off the competition.”
In addition to successfully defending her British and Welsh titles Laura has been earning excellent results in top international events during 2014 and hopes to peak at the right time.
“It was really exciting to perform my routines in the main arena, even if there were only the judges and a few volunteers looking on,” said 18-year-old Laura.
“It all went really well. I didn’t feel nervous at all. It is by far the biggest venue I have ever performed at.
“It is my first competition on this scale so it would be unrealistic to expect to win an individual medal. All I can hope for is that I do clean routines and do the best I can. But I do think Wales has a chance of a team medal.
“Frankie has been there and done it before (silver medal in the hoop at the Delhi Games of 2010) and she has been a tremendous role model for myself and Nikara Jenkins around the village, guiding us through our first Games.”
Laura’s will be one of the first sports to finish on Saturday and then she intends to become a sports fan and full-time Welsh team supporter in Glasgow.
She said: “We have not really had much time to explore the village or the venues but we will have plenty of time after our event is over as we remain on site for the duration of the Games until the closing ceremony on Sunday week.”