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Sally Pearson, pictured here after winning the 100m Hurdles at the London Olympics, is tipped to take gold at the Commonwealth Games. EPA/Christian Charisius

Fewer medals, but Glasgow 2014 will still be a gold rush for Australia

Some 71 nations will participate in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, starting on Wednesday in Glasgow – so what are Australia’s chances?

Many countries – including Australia – are sending their largest ever Commonwealth Games teams. There will be an estimated 6,500 athletes and officials in Glasgow, 600 of them Australian (including 417 athletes).

Earlier this year, the Australian Sports Commission published its Commonwealth Games medal targets, and its estimate of a maximum of 152 medals for Australia is substantially below the tally for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games of 178 medals (74 gold, 55 silver and 49 bronze).

This reflects a decrease in the amount of medal events as well as the better performance of other Commonwealth countries.

Australia has been the leading medal-winning nation at the past six Commonwealth Games, so let’s have a look at who we might see on the podium this time round.

Swimming: July 24 – 29

The swimming events start on Thursday, and Australia has a 59-strong team at these Games.

Alicia Coutts won five gold medals in Delhi in 2010 is competing in four events in Glasgow: Women’s 50m Butterfly, Women’s 100m Butterfly, Women’s 200m Individual Medley and Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay.

Alicia Coutts at the Australian Swimming Championships this year. AAP/Tertius Pickard

With her in the team are three world champions: Cate Campbell, Christian Sprenger and James Magnussen. Overall, the Sports Commission estimates that the swim team will win a total of 55 medals, one-third of Australia’s medals at the Games.

Athletics: July 27 – August 2

Sally Pearson is one of the 55 female athletes in the 102-strong Australian athletics’ team.

She and three teammates – Kim Mickle, Dani Samuels and Alana Boyd – are expected to contribute to an estimated high of 20 medals in athletics at the Games.

Hockey: July 24 – August 3

The Australian hockey teams go into the Games with a strong record of gold medal success. The men’s team has won gold at all four Commonwealth Games in which hockey has been included. The women’s team has won the gold medal on three occasions. (The exception was in Manchester in 2002 when India defeated England.)

The Kookaburras are riding high from a World Cup victory. EPA/Bas Czerwinski

The men’s team, the Kookaburras, is the top ranked hockey team in the world, and the women’s team, the Hockeyroos, won the silver medal at the World Cup in the Netherlands last month.

Netball: July 24 – August 3

Australia and New Zealand have two Commonwealth netball gold medals each, and have played each other in all four finals.

The 2010 Final was an epic match and New Zealand won that game, 66-64, in double-overtime.

The margin between both teams in all four finals has been very small, and the Glasgow Games promise another close encounter in what is effectively the World Championships of the sport.

Will we see another hard-fought final? AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Rugby Sevens: July 26 – 27

Rugby Sevens first appeared in the Commonwealth Games in 1998. There has been substantial investment in this form of rugby union now it’s included in the Olympics from 2016.

Some 16 nations will compete for the Commonwealth title this year, but New Zealand has won the gold medal each time. Australia has been drawn in a qualifying group that includes England, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

Cycling: July 24 – August 3

There are 41 athletes competing for Australia in cycling. Anna Meares will be contesting the Sprint and 500-metre Time Trial.

The men’s road team named before the Games includes cyclists competing in the Tour de France: Simon Clarke, Mark Renshaw and Luke Durbridge. The road time trials take place four days after the end of the Tour.

Australia has medal hopes in all of the remaining sports in the Games, but for many athletes it will be an opportunity to experience a multi-sport event for the first time.

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