WHEN you make your way on to the stage doing the Ali shuffle and gesturing to your home crowd to pump up the decibels, the feeling you create is that the competition to follow could go one of two ways. For Peter Kirkbride last night, the horrible route followed as a supposed Scotland gold medal hope was rendered an also-ran in the 94kg weightlifting category.
Kirkbride failed to register any lift in the clean and jerk second section of the event and was left genuinely white of face after three times slapping his chalked hands against his eyes as 182kg proved beyond him. In the earlier jerk, a modest 142kg success was followed by two attempts that ended with the hands buckling to send the bar clanging down his back.
Kirkbride was far removed from the cream of the competition, Papua New Guinea’s Steven Kukama snatching gold from defending champion, Australian Simplice Ribouem, after his final lift, initially discounted, was allowed after review. So far removed, it was to be wondered how Kirkbride achieved his silver in Delhi four years ago, a medal that had created huge expectation he could be the first Scotland to win gold at a Commonwealth Games for 52 years.
Kirkbride, maybe in effort to motivate himself to the heights required, certainly fuelled the hype that he could end the country’s half century separation from gold in the event. Instead, by the fearful look he sported from the moment he could not push on to 145kg in the jerk, it seemed as if his bravado had merely put another weight on his shoulders that he could not lift.
The weightlifting took place under a pall yesterday following the revelation that 16-year-old Nigerian 35kg gold medal winner Chika Amalaha had tested positive for diuretics and masking agents.
And it wasn’t just Glasgow 2014 and the iffy reputation of an event dogged by doping over the years that seemed to suffer in the aftermath, a B sample expected to confirm the Nigerian’s disgrace today. So too did gold medal winning weightlifter Marie-Eve Beauchemin-Nadeau as she set new Commonwealth records in a terrific 75kg final – which was the expected epic struggle between the Quebecoise and her Samoan rival Mary Opeloge.
Those who have been in the Clyde Auditorium for earlier sessions claimed that the Montreal athlete did not receive the acclaim that might have been expected as six times she reset Commonwealth records, because of the Amalaha revelation. Not even when she ended the afternoon by lifting 140kg in the clean and jerk – after her silver-earning Samoan challenger had upped the games record to 134kg – and setting a new overall 250kg total for the combined snatch and clean and jerk.
Beauchemin-Nadeau did not sidestep the issue when asked about the reaction of the crowd to her feats – which, in terms of claiming gold and records, she said she had set out to attain.
“I wish we had a cleaner sport. The main thing is that testing works. We have to get to the point where people are too afraid to take drugs.”