THE Scotland team made sporting history at the Commonwealth Games yesterday, securing an all-time record haul of golds after another successful day at Glasgow 2014.
Bowlers Alex Marshall and Paul Foster won the first gold of the day to break the record of 11 set in Melbourne in 2006, and after Jen McIntosh won a bronze in shooting, victory for Libby Clegg in the para-sport 100m T12 at Hampden last night brought the host nation its 13th gold and 33rd medal of these Games – equalling the team’s all-time high, set in 1986 in Edinburgh, with six days of competition still to take place in Glasgow.
Clegg, 24, already a gold medallist in the world and European championships, was a strong favourite after qualifying with the fastest time in the world this year – a time she surpassed in the final.
She said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic, the atmosphere here is incredible. It’s so special to have so much support here.”
The visually impaired 24-year-old was out of the blocks far quicker than her three opponents and pulled away to win by more than a second in front of a raucous full house. She said: “It’s daunting when all eyes are on you, but as soon as I heard the crowd I had a laugh and then it was just all so amazing.”
She and her guide, Mikail Huggins, won silver at London 2012, and he said: “It’s totally different running here, with Libby a Scot. It is just amazing.”
Earlier in the day, success in the lawn bowls men’s pairs saw Scotland take its 12th gold. Best friends Foster and “Tattie” Marshall beat Malaysia’s Muhammad Hizzli and Fairul Izwan Abd Muin 20-3 in the final, to the delight of a packed crowd at Kelvingrove Park.
After embracing on the green following their victory, the pair gave each other high fives and went into the crowd, returning with a Saltire and Clyde mascot to pose for photographers and applaud spectators.
Marshall, who became an internet sensation at the weekend when he celebrated the semi-final victory over England with a clenched fist celebration, was taken aback at his partner’s skills. He said: “Obviously, we’re over the moon and, I must say, Paul Foster was absolutely relentless in the first ten ends.
“It’s the best performance that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been bowling since I was eight years old. He was absolutely awesome.”
Foster, a taxi driver from Troon, said: “The bowls Alex played in the semi-final were truly unbelievable and he’s a credit to the sport.
“Today, I just said to myself, ‘I’m going to help the big man’ and you want to put a performance in for the final. Luckily enough we were both on song.”
He added: “When I won my first gold medal back in Melbourne in 2006 I said that nothing could ever take that away, but to be honest with you, this is the highlight of my career. To win a gold medal in your home country is just phenomenal.
“I’m very emotional and I’ll take this to my grave – it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Commonwealth Games minister Shona Robison said: “What a fantastic day for Team Scotland. With just under a week of competition left, Scotland has won its highest ever number of gold medals, thanks to an outstanding performance by Alex Marshall and Paul Foster in the lawn bowls pairs final.
“Five days in, Glasgow 2014 has produced some inspirational sporting moments, including exceptional performances in the pool from Hannah Miley, Ross Murdoch and an unforgettable performance from Erraid Davies, Team Scotland’s youngest ever athlete.”
She added: “I’m proud of all our athletes. Their hard work and dedication is an inspiration to us all. The support from the crowd has also been fantastic, not only for our own sporting heroes but to all those competing throughout the Commonwealth.”
Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Labour’s shadow sport minister, said: “Glasgow 2014 has not even reached the halfway point yet and these have already been a wonderful and record-breaking Games for Scotland.
“For Team Scotland to beat its previous gold medal tally on home soil is absolutely fantastic, and the success of the Games is testament to the hard work and dedication put in over the course of many years by the athletes, organisers, officials and volunteers.
“Hopefully we will go on to break our record for total medals and make this our most successful Commonwealth Games ever.”
Mike Whittingham, director of high performance at the Sportscotland institute of sport, was “delighted” with the gold medal haul and praised the men who clinched the record. “Alex and Paul have dominated world bowls over the last few years and to add another Commonwealth title to their collection, especially one as historic as this, is extremely fitting,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of the Team Scotland athletes competing, and I’m sure they will be going all out to try to add to the already impressive medal tally.”