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Glasgow 2014: Erraid Davies the toast of Scotland

Scotland's Erraid Davies captured the nations heart by coming in third in the para-sport 100 metres breaststroke. Picture: AP

Scotland's Erraid Davies captured the nations heart by coming in third in the para-sport 100 metres breaststroke. Picture: AP

  • by CRAIG BROWN
 

TEENAGE swimming star Erraid Davies has revealed she celebrated becoming the youngest ever Scottish Commonwealth medallist with a victory can of Scotland’s other national drink.

The 13-year-old became an instant national heroine as she was roared on by a packed Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow to finish third in the para-sport 100m breaststroke final on Sunday night.

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The Shetland teenager with the beaming smile, who is finding fame worldwide, said: “My mum and dad were just really happy and I got a huge hug and a ‘well done’. When we got back we went to the dining hall of the hotel and I had some Irn-Bru.

“I was just really happy – I didn’t expect it. All I wanted was a PB [personal best],” she said.

Erraid, who was diagnosed with the hip disorder Perthes’ disease aged four, resulting in her being in a wheelchair for four years, took a standing ovation in her stride following the medal ceremony.

The teenager also confessed she had kept her training and her appearance at the Commonwealth Games a secret from her school friends as she “didn’t really know how to tell them”.

Erraid, who is originally from Dundee, trains in a 16.6m three-lane pool at Brae – a third of the length of the Olympic sized pool where she won bronze – and swims nine times a week. The pool is 45 minute drive from her home at Skeld.

The pupil at Anderson High School in Lerwick described the attention she has received since her win as “weird” and said it was something she never expected.

Both Judy Murray, tennis champ Andy Murray’s mother, and First Minister Alex Salmond were quick to take to their Twitter accounts and congratulate Erraid, whose name began trending worldwide on Twitter as soon as she clinched the historic bronze.

Ms Murray said: “Well done wee Erraid Davies. Just 13 and from the Shetland Islands. Bronze medal 100m Para breaststroke. How big was her smile? Adorable.”

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Congrats to Scotland’s youngest-ever Commonwealth Games competitor Erraid Davies winning a brilliant Bronze #GoScotland.”

And yesterday Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington said she believed the Scottish the teenager was “going to be a star”.

Her proud parents, David, 59, and Joyce, 54, said watching their daughter’s bronze-winning swim was a moment they would cherish for the rest of their lives.

Mr Davies said: “She got into swimming because she was told she was not to do any weight-bearing exercises and that the best thing for her was to swim.

“We had just moved to Shetland and she couldn’t swim, but she was soon taught and she has virtually never been out of the pool since.”

He added: “She came in to the Games not knowing what she could achieve. At Erraid’s age, knocking a couple of seconds off your time is not difficult, but she knocked nearly five seconds off it and that’s what brought her the success. She deserves it, she worked really hard.”

Mrs Davies told how taking up swimming had transformed her daughter’s life. She said swimming had helped her daughter’s hip problems because it built up her muscle.

“From being four until the age of eight she was in a wheelchair – so there was a lot of frustration, a lot of emotion that Erraid felt that we coped with by swimming,” she said.

“Erraid coped by being able to be the best in the pool.”

The teenager has said she now has her sights set on the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. Erraid said: “I will try to get into Rio 2016 but I’m not sure. I’ll just see what I get. I just love swimming.”

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