C'wealth Games: Bolt ready to steal thunder

Without a doubt, he is the biggest star of the show, even though he will only perform for about nine seconds.

But if, as expected, the Jamaica track team make it to the 4x100m men's relay final on Aug 2, a capacity crowd at Glasgow's Hampden Park will get to feast their eyes on the tall, muscular figure of Usain Bolt.

The presence of the world's fastest man is a mighty relief for the Commonwealth Games, a meet that lives in the shadow of the Olympics and other lucrative competitions.

Take Bolt's team-mate Yohan Blake, for example. The 24-year-old is skipping the Games even though he was in town last week for the Glasgow Grand Prix, a Diamond League event that pays handsomely.

But there is still enough star power to make the quadrennial multi-sport competition for athletes from Commonwealth countries a crowd-puller.

On the track, Bolt will headline the show even though he will not be running in the blue riband event, the 100m.

He explained in a statement on his website why he declined to race in the 100m, saying: "I do not wish to take the place of anyone who qualifies this weekend in an individual event, but I am available for relay duty if the selectors feel I can be an asset to the Jamaican team in Glasgow.

"I have received lots of requests, invitations and messages of support from my fans in Scotland who are looking forward to a great event."

Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 100m champion at the London Olympics, will also be in Glasgow but, like Bolt, she will only run in the relay.

Elsewhere on the track, David Rudisha may have been out for a year with a knee injury but the Kenyan has been given special dispensation to miss his country's trials and has received automatic selection to deliver a gold medal in the 800m, the event in which he is the current Olympic and world record holder.

In the velodrome, Bradley Wiggins, who has seven Olympic cycling medals, has confirmed his participation but will focus only on the team trials while giving the team pursuit and individual pursuit a miss. Also, the home crowd will be disappointed that he has ditched his trademark mutton chops in favour of a beard.

In the rugby sevens, a colossal tussle is in store as the New Zealand All Blacks are expected to meet Australia's mighty Wallabies - despite the presence of Fiji and South Africa - in a final played at the historic Ibrox Stadium, home of the Rangers Football Club.

There is also a top-class athlete from South-east Asia in Nicol David. The 30-year-old seven-time world squash champion from Malaysia will return to defend the Commonwealth title she won in New Delhi four years ago.

And in the pool, it is Australia who are providing the big names. Swimming has always been their motherlode of gold and it will be no different in Glasgow as the team try to repair their reputation in the light of sleeping pill abuse and drinking problems during the London 2012 Olympics.

James "The Missile" Magnussen, the 100m freestyle world champion, is expected to spearhead the recovery effort and his nearest challenger is team-mate Cameron McEvoy, as both are primed for one of the duels of the Games.

But for sheer enthusiasm, not many can beat the way Mo Farah chirped on social media. The double Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m champion tweeted: "Hi guys! I will be running in the Commonwealth Games this year..!! See you in Glasgow..!! Shabba....!!"

This article was first published on July 23, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.