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Commonwealth Games: Kilted Dan Wallace wows crowd

Dan Wallace wears his kilt as he is presented with the silver medal. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Dan Wallace wears his kilt as he is presented with the silver medal. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by MOIRA GORDON
 

DAN Wallace is a performer, in and out of the pool. The 21-year-old Scot had already contributed two medals to the Scotland tally ahead of the closing night of competition and as he walked out the crowd responded with a roof-raising welcome.

That was an acknowledgment of his deeds thus far but it had as much to do with the fact he had paired a kilt with some Irn-Bru coloured socks to make his entrance.

All that was missing was a see-you-jimmy-hat instead of the swimming cap. Well, that and some dancing Tunnock’s tea-cakes.

He said the team had made the decision to come decked out in the kilts and tartan shawls they had worn at the Opening Ceremony.

But it’s one thing for the cheerleading contingent to do that, it’s another for swimmers of such professionalism and focus to get involved.

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In the opening event of the night Hannah Miley had walked out in her tracksuit but with her tartan draped around her neck.

It was a great show of the team togetherness and she gave a big grin as the crowd responded to the patriotic display.

Wallace admitted he nearly went one better, almost bursting out laughing on the starting blocks as the crowd he had whipped into a frenzy with his attire and his showmanship, were drowned out temporarily by the rest of the Scottish swimmers.

With grins on their face they yelled “Freedom” in homage to his reaction to winning gold in his 400m individual medley on Friday.

“That was just them having a bit of fun with me and I loved it. I was having a bit of a laugh before we dived in but I was still focused and I just enjoyed myself.

“It was a team decision to wear the kilt and all Team Scotland are wearing them out on pool-side. It’s just a great experience and we’re all just enjoying ourselves so I thought it would be a nice touch [to wear it to the blocks] and I think the crowd really liked it.

“Being Scottish all these little things are just a bit of fun. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had at a meet. It’s our last night [at Tollcross] as a host nation. Even if you’re not swimming your heart rate is up the whole night and it’s just an unforgettable experience for everyone.”

The atmosphere was exceptional with everyone in party mood. The hope was that the final night would also serve up another gold medal and a burst of the national anthem but in the end, while the home swimmers gave their all, with personal bests de rigour, Wallace’s silver was the best it got.

It was still pretty special. After 100m, having struggled to keep up with his rivals in the backstroke and butterfly legs of the 200m IM, he turned in last place. It wasn’t what the fans had been expecting.

But Wallace had qualified second fastest for the final for a reason and he illustrated just what he is capable as he reeled the field in over the breaststroke length and tuned for the final 50m with just Australian Daniel Tranter ahead of him.

The Scot tried to catch him too and with the crowd and his mates all bellowing their encouragement he dug deep to produce a new PB but the Aussie posted a new Games record to stay beyond his reach.

“I knew that I didn’t have the same 100 metres that everyone else did but I felt that I could bring it home. It was going to be close to get a medal in such a world class field and I’m just ecstatic about it.

“I’m the kind of guy that thrives off that kind of energy and the crowd definitely had a huge part in my whole week’s swimming results. You can hear them the last 50, the first 50 and when you walk out. It’s absolutely unforgettable and I just loved it all.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve had so many people reach out to me to tell me how well I’ve done, how I’ve made Scotland proud and that really has warmed my heart to touch so many people.”

It has singled him out as a real world- class athlete, something that has earned him a lot of attention on dating app Tinder. “When you’re on BBC every night people will notice you. I’m now a high-profile athlete so there’ll be people who message me. I love it all though. I’m not complaining about it!

“I’m not really counting the matches – maybe a couple of hundred – but I’ve been a bit too busy to respond so far but I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll get to meet some people!”

It was a night where Scottish swimming seemed determined to give their very best. Having dressed for the occasion, those who competed also delivered. Maybe they fell short when it came to winning more baubles but they did weigh in with PBs, giving their very best as they have throughout the meet.

Miley had started the medal rush on the first night of competition and kickstarting the closing session the Aberdeen-based swimmer, in her 13th race of a Games where she has shown some of her best form ever and proved she had unlimited reserves of spirit and guts, produced a personal best time in the 400m freestyle and in doing so broke the Scottish record.

It was enough to whip up the home crowd, who had already been stirred by the sight of the non-competing swimmers entering the arena in their kilts and tartan shawls from the opening ceremony.

Having qualified fifth fastest she sliced more than three seconds from her time in the heats and pushing the fastest finishers all the way, eventually settling for fourth.

In the women’s 50m backstroke 16-year-old Scot Kathleen Dawson was cheered all the way to another personal best. She finished fifth but having set a new lifetime best in the heats, she improved on that again as she tried in vain to chase down Georgina Davies of Wales, Lauren Quigley of England, Canada’s Brooklynn Snodgrass and Australian Emily Seebohm.

Following on from Wallace, Stephen Milne had to settle for fifth in the gruelling 1,500m.

In the 4x100m medley relays the home quartets got fourth place and the women’s race and seventh in the men’s.

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