Coast eyes on local chances at Games

By Viv Logie

When the curtain rises on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this week, West Coasters will have the opportunity to follow two Greymouth athletes in action.
Most of the New Zealand team of 232 — including Greymouth sportsmen, professional squash player Paul Coll, pictured left, and boxer Bowen Morgan — were welcomed to the games venue yesterday, ready for the opening ceremony on Thursday morning NZ time.
Another Commonwealth Games athlete with West Coast connections is Phil Burrows, who has been a member of the New Zealand hockey team for more than a decade. Burrows is the son of Pauline Burrows (nee Beban), who was born on the West Coast before moving to Wellington.
Morgan is a top medal prospect and a member of the New Zealand boxing team, which is regarded as the No 2 side in the Oceania region, behind Australia.
Along with a number of other New Zealand boxers, Morgan has been competing well in various European tournaments this year to ensure they are in the best condition for Glasgow.
New Zealand did not win any medals in boxing at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Morgan was a silver medallist at the 2012 AIBA Oceania Olympic qualifiers. He will be boxing in the welterweight class (69kg), which begins on Friday.
Coll has been bashing a squash ball around since he was a toddler and he expects to be at the top of his form when his competition begins.
At the start of this year he was ranked 89th in the world and that ranking has since jumped 10 places after good performances at various build-up tournaments.
His preparation began in January, when he won the Australian Day Challenge.
After that he competed in the Finnish Open and was knocked out after the first round, was runner-up in the West Australian Open in May, made the semi-finals of the New Zealand international classic, the quarter-finals of the New Zealand Southern Open in June and earlier this month he reached the second round of the Victoria Open, in Australia.
Coll will be competing at Glasgow in the mixed doubles with Amanda Landers-Murphy; the pair are seeded seventh. He is also in the men’s doubles with Lance Beddoes and the singles.
Coll’s parents, Mike and Julie, will be his biggest supporters at the Commonwealth Games as they flew out this morning to watch him compete.
The squash competition gets under way after the opening ceremony.
The flag-bearer for the New Zealand team at the opening ceremony will be named tomorrow. New Zealand athletes will be competing in all 17 sports, with the netballers and triathletes among those in action on the first day.