DUNCAN SCOTT is well used to having the hopes of a nation upon his shoulders when it comes to bolstering Team Scotland’s medal tally. 

In Gold Coast, four years ago, the University of Stirling swimmer racked up six medals, becoming the first Scot ever to achieve such a feat. 

For some, the prospect of repeating such success would be a daunting task but for Scott, he sees it merely as a target to be surpassed at Birmingham 2022. 

Over the next week, Scott will barely have a moment to breathe. 

The 25-year-old has entered nine events at these Commonwealth Games and although he admits it’s unlikely he will be on the starting block for every one of them – he most certainly has his sights set on breaking his own record in terms of medal count. 

“I wouldn’t enter an event unless I thought I could medal in it,” he says. 

“I would say that’s the level I’m at and that’s what I’ve expected from myself for a while now. 

“My schedule is definitely packed and it’s likely I won’t do all the events I’m entered in – there are some staples that I’ll definitely do but it’s very much seeing where my head’s at and where my body’s at over the week and take it from there.” 

Scott’s preparation for these Games has been far from ideal. 

He was scheduled to compete at the World Championships last month which would have given him some valuable race practice against the very best in the world but in what was quite disastrous timing, Scott tested positive for Covid just a few weeks before the Worlds began. 

It means he goes into Birmingham 2022 perhaps without the competitive race sharpness he would ideally desire but having recovered fully from the virus, he admits he is just glad to be in Birmingham at all, and be in the form required to challenge for silverware. 

“I’m pretty confident of the shape I’m in – I’d happily pull out if I thought I wasn’t fit. My health is such an important thing to put first and an important skill for me to learn recently has been patience. 

“I’ve got things I want to achieve at this meet but also, I know where I‘ve come from in the past few weeks – it’s been a different preparation but I’m looking forward to getting started now. 

“I was quite nervous after withdrawing from the Worlds about what shape I’d be able to get into but I’m fortunate that I’ve recovered well and the support system around me has helped me get into the shape I’m in.” 

Scott begins his campaign today, with both the 200m freestyle and the 400m individual medley. 

It is the 200m freestyle in particular which is anticipated as one of the races of the meet, with a repeat of the Olympic final last summer a near certainty. 

In that final in Tokyo, Scott was pushed into second place by his GB teammate, Tom Dean, with the Englishman likely to be Scott’s main rival for gold in this evening’s final. 

However, Scott is not entertaining any notion that he is out for revenge and in fact, insists he has far more challengers for gold than merely Dean. 

“A lot of people have labelled it as a head-to-head between Tom and I but I think that’s forgetting about the quality of the rest of the field,” he says.  

“Deano is obviously a world-class competitor but we get on really well and it’s always a pleasure racing him. 

“For me though, it’s about trying to execute my race and whatever happens, it’s going to be a phenomenal race.” 

Whatever the outcome for Scott today, he will quickly have to reset ready to defend his 100m freestyle title tomorrow. 

Despite his success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, this was the only event in which Scott won gold. 

Standing atop the podium more frequently than that is, he admits, certainly something he has on his mind here in Birmingham but he is well aware that having watched so many of his events become considerably faster over the past four years, this is far from guaranteed. 

“I’m a better swimmer than I was at last Commonwealth Games so in that sense, I’m in a better place but at the same time, it’s a completely different situation in that a lot of the events I did at the last Games have moved on a lot,” he says. 

“I guess gold is the aim in every race in every meet.  

“I’m going into every race thinking I can medal but ultimately, I want to see how close I can get to my PBs because there’s still improvements I can make. 

“I feel pretty confident within myself and I think that over the past couple of years, that’s shown.  

“So everything I enter, I should be in with a shot.”