Glasgow 2014: Plenty to be positive for Team Wales

By Aled WilliamsBBC Wales Sport
Team Wales at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Team Wales entered Celtic Park before hosts Scotland

Team Wales arrived in 'paradise' after an eventful and difficult build-up to the 20th Commonwealth Games.

Celtic Park, nicknamed paradise by Celtic fans, has hosted many memorable football occasions.

The Games opening ceremony marked another chapter in the stadium's illustrious history as 71 teams paraded ahead of 11 days of competition.

The opening ceremony came as welcome distraction for a Wales team beset by a catalogue of bad news and unwanted newspaper headlines during recent weeks.

Injuries had robbed them of leading medal hopes, with triathletes Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins, as well as cyclist Becky James missing out.

Athlete Gareth Warburton was ruled out of the Games after being provisionally suspended for anti-doping rule violations.

Spectacular musical number opens Glasgow 2014

Two of Wales' boxing team - Ashley Brace and Fred Evans - were denied accreditation and deemed ineligible.

Gold medal hope Evans' accreditation was refused by Glasgow 2014 for a previous misdemeanour.

Brian Davies, Chef de mission for Team Wales, has spent the weeks leading up to the Games having to deal with unfortunate and unwanted issues.

Davies said the bid to get Evans reinstated had been "the most frustrating four weeks of his life" trying to resolve the issue.

A target of 27 medals - eight more than Delhi 2010 - had been set but pragmatic Welsh officials concede that might be difficult to achieve in light of the high-profile absentees.

But Wales are hoping to draw a line under recent events and focus on winning medals rather than dwelling on missing athletes.

Big Welsh names missing from Glasgow 2014
Reigning world triathlon champion Non Stanford - stress fracture
Two-time world cycling champion Becky James - knee injury
Two-time world triathlon champion Helen Jenkins - foot injury
Olympic silver medallist Fred Evans - accreditation declined
Former European indoor 800m medallist Gareth Warburton - suspended from competition

Team chief Davies looked to have put the recent troubles behind him as he joined the rest of the Welsh contingent in soaking in the atmosphere at the opening ceremony.

And there is plenty for them to look forward to in Glasgow.

If it's positivity Wales need, then they have appointed the right man to lead the 230-strong contingent who will be competing in 17 different sports.

Paralympian Aled Sion Davies is a charismatic and exuberant character, who has embraced the role of team captain.

Frankie Jones
Frankie Jones was Wales' flag bearer at the opening ceremony

The 23-year-old, a gold medallist at the 2012 Paralympics and a double world champion, is one of the country's main medal hopes in the athletics.

Injury and illness have dogged Dai Greene since his 400m hurdles title win in Delhi four years ago.

But Greene made a timely return to action with victory in Budapest recently and he will renew his rivalry with fellow Welshman Rhys Williams.

Geraint Thomas, should he come through the final few days of the Tour de France unscathed, will be Wales' big cycling hope.

Thomas, a bronze medallist on the track in Melbourne eight years ago, will compete in the road race and time trial.

With the Isle of Man's Mark Cavendish out through injury and Sir Bradley Wiggins opting for the velodrome, Thomas can be considered among the favourites.

Jazz Carlin will be aiming to become the first woman to win gold for Wales in the pool since 1974 and she will lead a swimming team described as the "strongest ever" at a Commonwealth Games.

Carlin made her name at the Delhi Games in 2010 and Glasgow presents an opportunity for others to make a mark and gain invaluable experience.

Primal Scream's 'Movin' On Up' played over the public address system at Celtic Park after the Queen declared the Commonwealth Games open.

After the trials and tribulations of the last few weeks, Wales will be hoping to live up to the song's title.