HARTLEPOOL’S golden girls Savannah Marshall and Jemma Lowe today fly the flag for the town as they bid for glory at the Commonwealth Games.
Athletes from across the Commonwealth, including boxer Savannah and swim star Jemma, took part in a stunning opening ceremony at Glasgow’s Celtic Park where The Queen officially opened the Games.
Family and friends of both Savannah and Jemma are making the trip north of the border to give their support and are confident the duo can deliver the goods.
While the pair both represented Team GB in the Olympics, Savannah will wear an England vest for the Commonwealths while Jemma will swim for Wales, her father Mike’s home nation.
Savannah’s mum Christine Dee has decked out her house in Milbank Road with flags and posters, and after celebrating her 54th birthday yesterday she is hoping her 23-year-old daughter can bring home a gold medal as a belated present.
Christine said: “When she left for Glasgow at the weekend, I just told her to do her best and that was all we could ask of her.
“When she competed in the Olympics, you could see she was nervous. The size of the occasion got to her, and she lost her first fight and didn’t get into the medals.
“It took her a while to get over that, she was gutted. But I think the experience has done her good, she knows what to expect and I think she’s quietly confident of doing well.
“She’s also been injury-free as well, which is a bonus, and she’s been training hard.”
Christine and Savannah’s dad John, brother Charlie and uncle Joe Gales will all be ringside to offer their support, while her sister Amanda Arnison, brother-in-law Paul and nephews Harry and Alfie will be glued to the TV from their home in Australia.
Despite her disappointment in the Olympics two years ago, Savannah remains the world champion in her division and is the bookies’ favourite to take gold in Glasgow in what will be the first time women’s boxing has been included.
She is line to box in the preliminary round on Tuesday night, with the quarter and semis on Wednesday and Friday at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Should she reach the final, Savannah will step out at the 12,000-capacity Hydro Arena on the banks of the Clyde next Saturday.
Jemma, meanwhile, is competing in her third Commonwealths having featured at Melbourne in 2006 and Delhi four years later.
And she was set for an early start this morning as the swimming got underway first.
She was taking part in the heats of the 100 metres butterfly at Torcross International Swimming Centre from 10.30am, and depending on her progress she could face the prospect of as many as 10 races in six days.
Her dad Mike said: “She will do her best, and while she looks cool on the outside I guess the nerves will kick in on the inside.
“This is her third Commonwealths so she knows what to expect, and she’s got the experience behind her now.”