Scottish sport 2015: the highs and lows in numbers

Referee Craig Joubert broke Scottish hearts in the dying minutes of the national side's quarter-final clash against Australia

Referee Craig Joubert broke Scottish hearts in the dying minutes of the national side's quarter-final clash against Australia

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SCOTS athletes have tasted glory and defeat in a memorable and frequently agonising 12 months for sports fans.

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Polish players celebrate after scoring a late equaliser against Scotland at Hampden Park in October. Picture: John Devlin

Polish players celebrate after scoring a late equaliser against Scotland at Hampden Park in October. Picture: John Devlin

For just under 10 minutes Scotland fans thought their heroes were destined for a Euro 2016 play-off place. When Gordon Strachan’s side went 2-1 up against Poland after 62 minutes, courtesy of Steven Fletcher’s wonder goal, it looked enough to book third place in Group D. Their rivals for that spot, the Republic of Ireland, could pip the Scots if they earned three points in their match against world champions Germany taking place that same night. With 70 minutes gone, Shane Long fired the Irish ahead. When that news filtered through to Hampden, many Scotland fans knew the game was up. A last minute Polish equaliser from Robert Lewandowski merely compounded the misery on what was another night to forget for the international team.

READ MORE: Shambolic goal seals Scots’ fate

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Scottish national teams are well acquainted with agonising defeat, but the Rugby World Cup quarter-final match against Australia on October 18 was a new low in terms of bitter disappointment. Mark Bennett’s interception try with seven minutes left to play at Twickenham appeared to have sealed one of the biggest shock results in international rugby. Then, with just two minutes remaining, referee Craig Joubert called a deliberate offside - despite replays suggesting the ball came off a Wallabies player. The resulting penalty handed Australia a 35-34 victory they scarcely deserved.

READ MORE: Scots fall seconds from glory

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Before the Murray brothers came along, UK tennis had endured a barren spell in international competitions, particularly in the Davis Cup. The event began life as an annual series of matches between Great Britain and the US, with the idea conceived by a Harvard University student named Dwight F. Davis. The tournament was soon expanded to include other countries, and Britain would finish first on nine occasions up to and including 1936. It would be 79 years before a British side would lift the trophy again. Captained by Glasgow-born Leon Smith, and inspired by the dominant form of Andy and Jamie Murray, Team GB saw off a Belgium in the final round of matches played in Ghent last month. Eleven of the 12 Davis Cup points Britain won in 2015 were claimed by Andy or a combination of him and his brother, Jamie. It was the former - playing his 98th match of the year - who secured the vital 12th point which landed the cup.

READ MORE: Andy Murray wins Davis Cup for Great Britain

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Russell Knox had won only four professional tournaments - none of them on the PGA tour - when he arrived at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai in November. Raised in Inverness, but now living in Florida, the 30-year-old earned a memorable two-stroke victory to become the first Scot to win a World Golf Championship event. He was the first WGC tournament debutant to win since American Jeff Maggert won the first one – the Cadillac Match Play – in 1999. Counting his win in China, Knox has recorded nine top-ten finishes on the US circuit and finished 40th then 34th in the FedEx Cup over the last two seasons.

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Glasgow Ladies have established themselves as the dominant force in women’s football north of the border in the last decade. The club, based in Airdrie, won their fifth successive Scottish Women’s Cup in November courtesy of a 3-0 win over east coast rivals Hibernian Ladies. It was the second time in 2015 Glasgow had seen off Hibs in a final, having previously won the League Cup in June with a 2-1 extra-time victory. Meanwhile, the national side have enjoyed a stellar 2015 as well, with a recent 10-0 win over Macedonia boosting their chances of qualifying for the 2017 European Championships.

READ MORE: Hibs just fail to end four year trophy drought

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Mark Beaumont is used to cycling at speed through some inhospitable climates. The adventurer from Newburgh, Fife, first made headlines in 2008 when he circumnavigated the globe by bike in 195 days and six hours – smashing the previous record of 276 days. In May this year he added a new world record to his collection by cycling from Cairo to Cape Town in only 42 days. He beat the previous record of 59 days and eight hours, set by South African Keegan Longueira. Beaumont’s cycle, which he raised money for Orkidstudio, involved cycling 6,213 miles. He averaged 150 miles a day.

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