TV preview: Commonwealth Games

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The build-up to the Commonwealth Games has been almost as exhausting as taking part.

For months we’ve been told it’s on its way and that it’s going to be fantastic – well, at long last, it’s time for Glasgow to put its money where its mouth is and prove that anything London can do, it can at least match.

Following the success of the Olympics in 2012, the city certainly has a lot to live up to, but Clare Balding, who will be on presenting duties for the BBC throughout the event, thinks Glasgow will do Scotland proud.

“It’s amazing how much people are still talking about London 2012 and when they start talking about it they smile,” says Balding. “It makes them feel warm inside and I think it showed the best of us as a country.

“I know that Glasgow will do the same, and the Scottish welcome will be warm and generous and enthusiastic. I just think it is a very good reflection of our ability to organise major events and stage them with humour and a great appreciation of entertainment value, and to do so efficiently and always with the athlete in mind.”

She will present coverage of the opening ceremony at Celtic Park alongside Gary Lineker and Hazel Irvine; Irvine also provides the commentary with Huw Edwards.

The Queen’s Baton Relay ends here, and 3,000 volunteers take part in what promises to be a spectacular show. Competitors from 71 nations enter the arena in the Parade of Athletes before the Queen herself officially declares the Games open.

Will she arrive by helicopter with James Bond, as she did during the Olympics? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Although most of the action takes place in Glasgow, the diving is being held in Edinburgh, which has hosted the Games twice in the past. One person hoping to make a big splash there this time is Tom Daley.

“He’ll be defending his title,” explains Balding. “It’ll be really interesting for Tom. There’s been a lot written about him, people questioning his motivation, his fitness, can he step up there? He’s up against Matt Mitcham of Australia, who’s his strongest competitor.”

Balding will mostly be hanging out at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow, and will be keeping her eye on several swimmers, in particular Chad le Clos, the young South African whose father Bert made such an impact on viewers thanks to his emotional interview about his on during the 2012 Olympics.

“But there are some really strong swimmers from the UK, in particular from Scotland,” claims Balding. “I hope Hannah Miley defends her medley title and then there’s Michael Jamieson, who got the best result of all the swimmers at the Olympics with a silver medal. He’s in there with a really good chance of getting Scotland’s first gold in the pool.”

Whatever happens, we’re looking forward to 11 days of top-class competition, and hope a few more star performers become household names by the time the closing ceremony begins.

Commonwealth Games, BBC1, 8pm, Wednesday

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