Dempsey McGuigan believes his student stint in Mississippi can help him burn off his hammer rivals when he becomes the first of Northern Ireland’s 13 athletes to chase a medal as the track and field competition begins at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
The 24-year-old has jetted straight from the States, where he is his fourth year at the University of Mississippi, to take part in what will be the opening final at Carrara Stadium (Sunday 0500, BST).
“I have a great training group and coach, which makes training easy,” McGuigan said. “The facilities are second to none and we have everything we need in terms of equipment and resources. I’m very lucky to be in the situation I‘m in, and will be forever grateful for the opportunity.
“Coming into Gold Coast I feel great. Training has been good, indoors went well and I’m looking forward to the getting my outdoors started. It’ll be very different having such a big meeting so early in the year.
“But I’ve adjusted training appropriately, so I’m anxious to see where I am at. And I’m very excited to put on the Northern Ireland singlet again.”
He will be joined in action on Sunday by sprinter Amy Foster, who opens up in the first round of the 100 metres (0505, BST). It is a third Games for Foster, who broke the Irish indoor 60m record during the build-up.
“My best memory of 2010 is the team atmosphere from being away for three weeks and it was my first experience of Commonwealth Games,” said Foster, who will also compete in the 200m next week. “2014 happened mid-season so it was a very different Games for me as I also had European Championships close after.
“My approach to the Gold Coast is a little different as I am much more aware of the level of competition involved. And I am working towards reaching a final.”