Glasgow 2014: Eight British Isles contenders to watch

By Nick HopeBBC Sport in Glasgow
Commonwealth Games preview
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Dates: 23 July - 3 August
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobile & app, and Connected TVs

The Commonwealth Games are often a breeding ground for stars of the future.

They are a platform which many sporting hopefuls can use to put themselves into the public spotlight.

Here, BBC Sport profiles some competitors from around the British Isles who you could be hearing a lot more of when 11 days of action at Glasgow 2014 get under way on Thursday.

Ali Jawad
Ali Jawad just missed out on a medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games

Ali Jawad - Powerlifting - England

Lightweight division2 August (final)

Born in Lebanon without legs, at a time when the nation was engaged in conflict with Israel, Ali Jawad and his family fled the country for London when he was six months old.

Now the Leeds-based 25-year-old is a world record-breaking powerlifter and heads to Glasgow targeting a medal, having finished fifth on his Commonwealth Games debut in Delhi.

His sporting career began on the judo mat, but he was encouraged to take up powerlifting after being spotted lifting weights in the gym.

Jawad, who has been diagnosed with the debilitating bowel condition Crohn's Disease, was denied a medal at London 2012 when a controversial judging decision went against him, but he bounced back by becoming world champion earlier this year.

Bethany Firth
Bethany Firth won gold at the London 2012 Paralympics despite injury

Bethany Firth - Swimming - Northern Ireland

4x100m freestyle relay24 July (heats and final)
50m freestyle 100m backstroke25 July (heats)
50m butterfly26 July (heats)
100m freestyle 200m individual medley27 July (heats and final)
50m breaststroke28 July (heats)

Watching the Northern Ireland teenager power down the pool, it is hard to believe she had a fear of water when she was younger.

The 18-year-old from Seaforde only took up swimming seriously in 2008 but has made a big impact, winning gold in the 100m backstroke at the London 2012 Paralympics, despite a shoulder injury.

With no Para-sport race available for her at Glasgow 2014, Firth - who has learning difficulties - will compete against able-bodied rivals.

It makes her and visually-impaired sprinter Jason Smyth the first disabled Northern Irish athletes to qualify for able-bodied Commonwealth events.

Eilidh Child
Eilidh Child gave up her teaching career to concentrate on athletics

Eilidh Child - Athletics - Scotland

400m hurdles30 July (preliminaries)31 July (final)

Silver at the 2010 Commonwealths and two subsequent European medals have made 400m hurdler Eilidh Child one of Scotland's headline acts at Glasgow.

After giving up her job as a part-time PE teacher to focus fully on her athletic career in 2011, Child was named Scottish athlete of the year in 2013 after helping the Great Britain 4x400m relay team to world bronze.

Now she is bidding to become the first Scottish woman to win a gold medal on the track since Yvonne Murray's 10,000m success in 1994.

Jamaican world number one Kaliese Spencer stands in her way, but the 27-year-old from Perth will have home support on her side.

Darius Jokarzadeh
Welsh weightlifter Darius Jokarzadeh is also trying out American football in the US

Darius Jokarzadeh - Weightlifting - Wales

+105kg division31 July

Darius Jokarzadeh began his sporting career as a rower after being picked out by UK Sport's Tall and Talentedexternal-link programme at 16 only to be told he had become too big after growing to 6ft 7in in height.

Rather than dieting, Jokarzadeh decided to focus on weightlifting, narrowly missing out on qualification for the London Olympics before becoming a bronze medallist at the 2013 World Junior Championships.

How long the 21-year-old remains in the sport must be in doubt, though.

The aspiring doctor is now studying in the United States and trying his hand at American football.

Chris Mears
Chris Mears is expected to win gold in the 3m synchronised event at Glasgow 2014

Chris Mears - Diving - England

Individual 1m springboard30 July (preliminaries and final)
Synchronised 3m springboard1 August (final)

Chris Mears was competing in Australia in 2009 when a practice dive went wrongexternal-link and he ruptured his spleen.

Told he had a 5% chance of survival, he spent the next month between intensive care - after his heart stopped - and a hospital ward before he eventually recovered from losing his spleen, five pints of blood and more than three stone in weight.

Before the Commonwealth Games in 2010, Mears spent a week in bed because of illness but almost got a medal, finishing fourth with Nick Robinson-Baker in the synchronised event.

Now diving with best friend Jack Laugher, the 21-year-old from Reading is expected to win gold in the 3m synchronised event.

Jazmin Carlin
Illness and a loss of form cost Jazmin Carlin a place at London 2012

Jazmin Carlin - Swimming - Wales

Possible events:Date
200m freestyle4x100m freestyle24 July
4x200m freestyle26 July
800m freestyle27 July (heats)29 July (final)
400m freestyle4x200m medley relays29 July

After winning silver and bronze medals at the Delhi Commonwealths for Wales, distance specialist Jazmin Carlin was seen by many as the natural heir to double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington.

However, a dip in form and illness cost her a place in the Team GB swimming squad for the London Olympics.

She was subsequently diagnosed with glandular fever and contemplated quitting swimming before battling back to fitness and form with three titles at the 2013 British Championships.

After setting the leading times for a Commonwealth swimmer in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events in 2014, the 23-year-old from Swindon expects to challenge for two gold medals in Glasgow.

Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes has won a host of boxing medals, including bronze at the London Olympics

Paddy Barnes - Boxing - Northern Ireland

-49kg (light flyweight) division28 July (preliminaries)30 July (quarter-finals)1 July (semi-finals)2 July (final)

Paddy Barnes has known little other than success since claiming bronze for Ireland at the 2008 Olympics.

European gold and silver medals followed, before the Commonwealth crown in Delhi and another Olympic bronze at London 2012.

Amazing to think that the Belfast boxer, 27, lost his first 15 bouts.

Funding has always been an issue for Barnes, but money worries might be a thing of the past if he turns professional after Glasgow.

Chris Simpson in action
Chris Simpson will be targeting at least a quarter-final place in Glasgow

Chris Simpson - Squash - Guernsey

Men's singles24 July (round of 64)28 July (final)

With squash still locked out of the Olympics, until 2024 at least, the Commonwealth Games remain the pinnacle for the sport.

It also represents Guernsey's best chance of a medal for 20 years.

Chris Simpson made his Games debut as a 15-year-old in 2002, reaching the second round before repeating that feat in 2006.

He reached the third round in Delhi but, as the seventh-ranked player in Glasgow, will have an eye on the quarter-finals at least this time around.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Hudson

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