PRACTICALITIES mean Jack Carlin’s Commonwealth Games will take place in London rather than Birmingham but that won’t stop him from becoming Team Scotland’s biggest cheerleader from more than 100 miles away.

With no suitable velodrome in the Midlands area, the track cycling events will instead take place at the 2012 Olympic venue where Carlin will try to improve on the silver he claimed on Gold Coast in 2018.

The Paisley rider has ascended to an even higher plane since then, as his brace of Olympic silver medals ably demonstrate, but there is something about competing for his country that helps to bring out his inner patriot.

“The Commy Games still holds a special place for the fact you’ve got a Scotland jersey on,” he admits. “I sat in the stands up there [in the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome] and watched the Glasgow Commies from the other side in 2014.

“That was the catalyst that made me want to go, ‘I really want to be on the other side and to be the person getting cheered, not the one cheering’. Watching fellow Scottish riders with the Scotland jersey on did that. I think that’s the special thing about it.

“It’s not about it being a Games, it’s about representing your actual country and being able to put the blue and white on. Then hopefully coming away with a result as well.

“We’re down in London this time so we’ve not really got the multi-Games side of things. But it still doesn’t stop you from watching it and supporting the other team.

“The way Scottish culture is, it doesn’t matter what sport it could be. It could be something you’ve never watched in your life but if there’s a Scottish team in it you’re going to sit and watch it and jump around like a loony if they win!

“That’s what I love about being Scottish and I think having that jersey on it’ll be the same for people sitting at home watching me. So I’m excited.”

The silver he took on Gold Coast was one of the first major medals of his career and remains a moment he still dearly cherishes. The same outcome four years later, however, won’t be met with such enthusiasm. Now 25 years old and one of the key performers in the GB set-up, Carlin knows it really has to be gold this time around.

“Silver this year doesn’t cut it,” he admits. “I’m going there to win this time. I want to walk away with at least one of the golds in one of the events.

“Don’t get me wrong, if I walk away with medals and it’s still a really positive step then it’s still getting medals for my country. But if you were to ask the majority of people, everyone getting selected are winners and they want to be winners. You’re not going there to be second-best.

“If someone is better than me then I shake their hand and say they were better than me on the day. We’ve got a young Australian rider Matthew Richardson who’s probably at the moment looking like my main rival for the individual gold. But we’ll go and see as there’s always someone who can pop out and say hello.

“If I lose it because I’ve been a tube then that’s when you start to get upset with yourself. But it’s not something to think about now.

“It’s about getting your head down and focusing and making sure you’re physically in the best shape you can be for it. The rest of it will take care of itself.”

Anonymity won’t be in Carlin’s armoury this time around. His performances in Tokyo brought him to wider global attention and he will go to these Games as the one the rest all want to bring down. But, genial as ever, Carlin hopes to take all that in his stride, knowing that no pressure is greater than the expectation he places on himself.

“I want to be there to compete and it’s the same for anyone from any other country,” he shrugs. “They’re going there to be the best and be the winner.

“Just because you’re the hunted doesn’t change anything from that. You can still become the hunter. I always have the inner pressure anyway. Having the extra pressure on top doesn’t really change anything.

“Obviously there are different expectations - when you finished fourth or fifth in the past it was put down to experience and learning. Now if you finish fourth or fifth people are going ‘what an idiot!’. Other than that it doesn’t really change anything.”