SCOTLAND finally struck gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games when swimmer Erin Robertson stormed to victory in the 50m breaststroke on a day when the young Scots boosted their medal haul to 14 in Samoa.
Despite a rush of silver and bronze medals at the Games, the team were without an elusive gold until Robertson triumphed in the first event of the night.
The 16-year-old’s swim set the tone for the whole session, prompting a further two bronze medals from Kieran Preston in the men’s equivalent and from Tain Bruce in the 100m butterfly.
“It’s amazing,” said Robertson. “I can’t believe it. As soon as I touched I turned around straight away and when I saw that I’d won it felt like I was dreaming, like none of it was real. When I saw the scoreboard and the number one next to my name, I realised it was the first gold medal for Scotland and I just couldn’t believe it.
“It was amazing to stand on the podium and see the Scottish flag up the top and hearing the Scottish national anthem being played for the first time, it was everything I dreamed it would be.”
Minutes later Preston touched just ahead of team-mate Benedict Tortolano for a surprise bronze medal in what he considers one of his weaker events.
“After watching Erin get the gold it really boosted me,” he said. “With Craig [McLean] getting the silver and the other medals yesterday, the swimming team just has a real buzz at the moment, it’s a great feeling.
“It’s great preparation for my main event tomorrow. This was my weakest event and I’m just so surprised to get a bronze.”
After two fourth-place finishes, Bruce finally got her hands on a medal, taking bronze in the 100m butterfly.
“Finally,” she said. “I’m really happy with that because I was a wee bit disappointed with my fourths, I would have liked to get medals. I’m really happy with tonight’s swim.”
Meg Finnon finished sixth in the 400m freestyle and goes in the 800m event today when the swimming concludes with all six of the squad back in action.
The Scots athletes added two silvers and a bronze to their tally on day three. Medals for Ben Greenwood and Carys McAulay in the 800m and a second medal of the Games for Alisha Rees means that every member of the athletics squad will leave Samoa with medals, an unprecedented feat.
Rees, already a medallist in the 100m, put in the performance of her life to take silver in the 200m in a time of 23.61 behind Nigerian winner Idamadudu Praise Oghenefejiro.
After going below 24 seconds for only the second time in her career, she said: “It’s incredible, it’s the best feeling ever. That time is insane. Unfortunately it’s slightly wind assisted but it’s good to go sub 24 by such a long way.”
In the 800m, Greenwood closed a seemingly insurmountable gap down the home straight to out dip Jamaican Leon Clarke for bronze by seven hundredths of a second and claim a new Scottish U17 record. His time of 1:50.42 erases his own mark set back in May.
McAulay, meanwhile, took silver in the women’s 800m. Leading into the final straight she was just pipped for gold by Australia’s Amy Harding-Delooze.
Three of Scotland’s four boxers progressed to finals, guaranteeing them at least silver medals. Billy Stuart defeated Emmanuel Ngoma of Zambia in the 56kg category while, in the 75kg division, John Docherty beat Christopher Alberte of Mauritius, both by unanimous decision. Sean Lazzerini was particularly impressive, taking less than a round to dispatch his opponent in the 81kg class.
Tennis duo Ewen Lumsden and Louie McLelland also have medals in their sights. Lumsden progressed to the boys’ singles semi-finals and reached the boys’ doubles final with his Cypriot partner. McLelland clinched her place in the girls’ doubles final with her partner from Barbados and then teamed up with Lumsden to reach the final of the mixed doubles, where they will play for gold today.