Glasgow 2014: No Hoy, Cavendish out, so who is going?
|Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games|
|Dates: 23 July - 3 August|
|Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, BBC Radio 5 live, Red Button, Connected TVs, online, tablets and mobiles|
As the world's top sportsmen and women took a well-earned break following the Olympics two years ago, organisers of Glasgow 2014 started work on their charm offensive to woo them north.
The Commonwealth Games do not have the global appeal, size or reach of an Olympics, so it was never going to be a straightforward task.
Great Britain's most decorated Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, delivered an early blow to organisers by retiring, thus ending hopes of him competing on home soil at the new velodrome that bears his name.
Then when news that Jess Ennis-Hill, the poster girl of London 2012, was expecting her first child and would not be competing either, eyebrows were raised and whispers of a wash-out followed.
Further disappointment came when the injury suffered by cyclist Mark Cavendish in the opening stage of this year's Tour de France left him unlikely to be part of the Isle of Man squad.
But now that the team lists are virtually all in from 71 Commonwealth Games associations around the world, organisers are quietly satisfied with the talent that will be on show when it gets under way on 23 July.
What's more, ticket sales have been extremely positive, bar recent problems with the official ticketing website, and all 14 venues are ready and waiting for the action to begin.
"With around six weeks to go, we're making the final preparations to create a wonderful sporting stage," said David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014.
"We're excited for the arrival of around 4,500 elite athletes from across the Commonwealth and can't wait for this summer's festival of sport to begin."
The home nations will account for a large chunk of those 4,500 competitors heading to Glasgow.
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will take their biggest ever squads to a Commonwealth Games and have included some household names, the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah and Tom Daley.
Shorn of Hoy, Scotland, who won nine golds in Delhi in 2010, still have several big medal hopes, among them swimmer Michael Jamieson, 25.
The Olympic silver medallist recently brushed off a heart scare suffered during a training session, merely citing it as evidence of how hard he is pushing himself in his bid for gold.
"I'm much stronger physically and mentally than I was in London," he told BBC Sport. "I'll go into the pool believing I can win gold."
Jamieson is joined in Team Scotland by a host of other medals hopefuls, including gymnast Dan Purvis, who won team bronze at London 2012, shooter Jen McIntosh, winner of two golds at the last Commonwealth Games, and para runner Libby Clegg, who has won silver medals at the last two Paralympics.
England, who were third in the table in Delhi, behind Australia and hosts India, boast a star-studded squad headed by Farah.
The man who lit up London two years ago, winning the 5,000m and 10,000m, kept organisers guessing about his possible participation but has now confirmed he will be targeting double gold on the track again.
Other English stars of London 2012 include Wiggins, Daley, boxer Nicola Adams and gymnast Louis Smith.
Spectators could even get a double dose of Wiggins, who has indicated he could race on the track as well as the road if, as expected, he misses out on the Tour de France this year.
As for Smith, he realised his decision to retire after the Olympics was premature, although he remained in the limelight by appearing on and winning BBC entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing.
"Seeing people compete and winning medals, when I know, if I was fit, I could still beat them, was just annoying," said the 25-year-old, who won an individual silver and a team bronze in London.
What about Northern Ireland?
Well, they were determined that their top boxer went to the Games - and Paddy Barnes, 27, says there was never a doubt that he would defend his Commonwealth flyweight title in Glasgow.
Veteran shooter David Calvert, cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel and impressive young swimmer Sycerika McMahon are also Irish hopes as they look to eclipse the three golds they won four years ago.
"Replicating the incredible haul of 10 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," said Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games Council.
As for the Welsh, they are so confident in their athletes that they have made public the number of medals they hope to win.
Two of the 27 they are chasing could come from Paralympic gold medallist Aled Davies, who has been named as captain.
"I'm looking forward to going up to Glasgow and hoping everyone else can follow me and go for gold," said Davies, who won his discus event in London and also landed a bronze in the shot put.
Former world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene and cyclist Geraint Thomas are also medal chances for Wales, who won a total of 19 medals in 2010, three of them gold, but Non Stanford will miss the women's triathlon because of injury.
What about the big names from around the world? Who will be lining up from 70 Commonwealth nations to compete in 17 sports at 14 venues over 11 days?
Well, let's start with the biggest.
Usain Bolt's plans remained a mystery for many months until he finally announced that he will compete - but only in the 4x100m relay.
Despite the absence of the world's fastest man, expect the Jamaicans to dominate the sprint events in Glasgow.
The Caribbean nation won 12 medals at London 2012 - and all came on the athletics track.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was responsible for two of them, winning the women's 100m before adding a silver in the 200m. She also won a silver in the 4x100m relay.
"I'm excited about the Commonwealth Games," she said. "You can't imagine how excited I am. One of the reasons is that I've never been."
Ethiopia is not part of the Commonwealth, so we will not see Tirunesh Dibaba, the leading name in women's long-distance running and the winner of the 10,000m at the last two Olympics.
But there will be a number of big-name Kenyans on show.
World record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha will run the 800m, while two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi will go for gold in the 3000m steeplechase.
The Australians have already confidently predicted they will top the medal table in Glasgow, just as they did in Delhi, where they claimed almost double that of the hosts, who were second.
Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson will attempt to defend her Commonwealth crown, while Anna Meares and Shane Perkins will be the ones to beat in the velodrome.
The Australians were dominant in track cycling in 2010, winning 12 of the 14 golds up for grabs.
"Our team is flush with experienced World, Commonwealth, Paralympic and Olympic Games champions and medallists," said Kevin Tabotta, Cycling Australia's national performance director.
"Glasgow will surely be our greatest challenge with superb depth of fields, so the quality of competition will be first-rate and our team is preparing hard to challenge for podium spots."