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Otley steeplechaser Racheal Bamford in Commonwealth Games team
8:02am Thursday 19th June 2014 in Sport
After Yorkshire's success in the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Wharfe valley's potential imprint on the Commonwealth Games this summer is growing.
Triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee from Bramhope have been joined by cyclists Lizzie Armitstead (Otley) and Scott Thwaites (Burley-in-Wharfedale), Ilkley swimmer Sian Morgan and Otley Athetics Club's middle-distance runner Racheal Bamford at the Glasgow extravaganza, which runs from July 23 to August 3.
It will be the rapidly-improving Bamford's first major championships, the 24-year-old having been selected for the women's 3000 metres steeplechase.
She gained the vital qualifying time at Manchester's Sportcity on May 31, running 9min 54.57sec.
This ranks her alongside Pippa Woolven (Wycombe) in England but behind Scottish duo Eilish McColgan, whose life-time best is 9:35.82, and Lennie Waite.
Bamford only took to the steeplechase in 2012, winning the Yorkshire Championships over 2000m, before turning seriously to the 3000m this year under the tutelage of Leeds City coach Mike Baxter.
In one month this spring, she improved from 10:29.31 in a UK Women's League Division Three match at Bedford to her breakthrough performance in Manchester.
However, Bamford will need another 30-second improvement to stay with the Kenyan world leaders in Glasgow.
The lower steeplechase barriers for women put a premium on flat speed, but Bamford has been improving her hurdling technique with a 64.8sec 400m at Stevenage 11 days ago.
Armitstead is expected to lead the English challenge in the women's road race on much of the same course where she triumphed at national level a year ago.
A silver medallist in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago, she said: "It's always an honour to be selected to represent your country and I'm proud to be part of the England team.
"I won the British national road race in Glasgow last year, which took in part of the Commonwealth Games course.
"The crowds were amazing then, so I'm sure this summer will be something else. Let's hope I can turn my silver medal from last time into gold."
Thwaites, winner of the Otley Town Centre races in 2011 and 2012 who finished 115th in the Criterium de Dauphine last Sunday , will be in select company in the men's road race squad, which includes 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.
More Yorkshire flavour is provided by Keighley's Tom Moses.
Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee will head the triathlon team alongside his brother Jonny, also from Bramhope, while there is also a mixed team relay - a first for the Games - for the Bingley Harriers duo.
Alistair said: "To win a medal at a home games is something every athlete wants to achieve.
"I feel very lucky to have this opportunity again just two years after London."
The individual races will be in Strathclyde Country Park on Tuesday, July 24, with the inaugural mixed relay two days later.
Morgan, who is studying for a degree in zoology at The University of Edinburgh, will again represent Wales.
She previously represented them in the 2010 Games in India at the age of 16, reaching the semi-finals in the 100m butterfly and finishing 11th in the 4x100m individual medley.
Morgan will be hoping to better that this time around, when she will again compete in the individual medley, as well as the 4x100m freestyle.
She is no stranger to success, however, winning gold in the 2008 European Junior Championships in the 4x200m freestyle relay in Prague, and also claiming two bronzes and one silver at the 2011 Youth Commonwealth Games in the Isle Of Man.
Morgan has been competing in high-level warm-up events as part of the Welsh squad's Games preparation, reaching the 200m freestyle final in Canet and the 400m freestyle final in Barcelona, where she set a personal best of 4min 16.94sec.
The former Bradford Grammar School pupil is now in Tenerife with the University of Edinburgh performance squad for a two-week training camp.
For her third year of studies, Morgan has been accepted at the University of Miami on an international exchange programme.
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