GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Athletes to watch at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games:
NICOL DAVID (Squash, Malaysia)
The eight-times world champion is facing unknown territory entering a competition where she is not a favourite for the title having had a slump in form. She is still ranked third for the women’s singles at Oxenford Studios behind England’s Laura Massaro and New Zealand’s Joelle King, but has been in Australia for about two weeks finalising her preparations.
HAMISH BOND (Road cycling, New Zealand)
Part of the most dominant rowing combination in the world with Eric Murray, Bond won two Olympic gold medals in the pairs before they split after the Rio Games. Bond had made no secret of his desire to continue on until the 2020 Games in Tokyo, but in cycling. Despite conceding he was still undergoing a learning curve in his new sport he was named to contest the individual time trial on the Gold Coast and won the Oceania title in Tasmania earlier in March as part of his final preparations.
LEE CHONG WEI (Badminton, Malaysia)
Arguably the second most dominant badminton player in history, behind China’s Lin Dan, the 35-year-old will be looking for his third men’s singles gold at the Carrara Sports Arena after Malaysian officials opted to send younger players to Glasgow. Lee has also anchored Malaysia’s gold medal winning team twice and is seeking two more titles at what will be his final Commonwealth Games.
LAUREL HUBBARD (Weightlifiting, New Zealand)
Transgender weightlifter Hubbard has had to fight off opposition from critics, particularly in Australia, who had sought to have her banned for the Games claiming she had an unfair advantage. The 39-year-old New Zealander, who lived as Gavin Hubbard until 2014 and competed at national level as a man, has been cleared to compete by both the International Olympic Committee and International Weightlifting Federation. She finished second in the women’s super-heavyweights at last year’s world championships.
MATTHEW GLAETZER (Track cycling, Australia)
The tall 25-year-old showed he was in career best form at the recent world championships in the Netherlands, winning the men’s sprint and finishing second in the 1km time trial. Glatezer, who took up cycling after injuries ended his pole vaulting dreams, became the first man to break one minute for the time trial at sea level last November. He will be busy having entered in the sprint, time trial, team sprint and Keirin with rides on every day of the April 5-8 competition.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney