SCOTLAND got off the mark at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa yesterday with medals in athletics, swimming and weightlifting to finish the first day with three silver and two bronze.
Discus thrower George Evans became the first Scottish medallist, taking silver at the Apia Park Athletics Stadium behind the reigning World junior champion, Werner Jakobus Visser of South Africa. Bronze medals swiftly followed for sprinters Cameron Tindle and Alisha Rees.
“It feels amazing to be Scotland’s first medallist of the Games,” Evans said. “Coming away with a silver medal, only beaten by the world champion, is the best thing that could have happened.”
Just minutes later Rees powered her way to bronze in the women’s 100 metres, just one hundredth of second outside her personal best. “I always knew a medal was a possibility but it’s all about performing on the day,” she said.
“The wind was pretty much perfect so it was quite good conditions to run a fast time. I was really close to my PB but it’s about getting medals here. I’m really excited to get back on the track again, it puts me in a really good place for tomorrow in the 200m.”
Tindle smashed his previous best to grab an unexpected bronze in the men’s 100m. Coming into the event his best stood at 10.63 seconds and from the morning’s heat it was clear he meant business, setting new figures of 10.47sec to progress as fastest qualifier to the semi-finals. He was just one hundredth slower in booking his place in the final where he unleashed a late surge to clinch bronze in another new best of 10.42sec.
“It means a lot because I’ve been working hard to even get selected for these Games,” Tindle said. “To come away with a medal is great. My plan was to go in and run a PB, I wanted to run 10.4 this season and this was my last chance to do it. To run 10.47 in my heat was great so everything from then on was a bonus. I just thought of my family back home and it drove me into third place. I had a look across and knew I had to go for the dip. I wasn’t expecting a medal, so it was a shock but a nice shock.”
Hopes were high for a swimming medal on day one and it came in the shape of a silver for 17-year-old Meg Finnon. Better known as a freestyle swimmer she came through the morning’s heat in the 200m butterfly and produced a stunning last 50m in the final to finish second.
“It means the absolute world,” she said. “I can’t believe I’ve done it. It’s just so good to be able to win a medal for your home nation.”
Tain Bruce finished fourth in the same event having finished sixth in the 50m butterfly earlier
in the night. Flagbearer Craig McLean took fifth place in the 200m freestyle and then teamed up with Benedict Tortolano, Tain Bruce and Erin Robertson in the mixed medley relay event where Scotland finished fourth.
Weightlifter Biatrice Gabell exceeded her own expectations when she landed a silver medal in the 53kg class. The 17-year-old from Ayrshire has only been lifting for two years after a switch from badminton, but showed no sign of nerves as she excelled against the best young talent from the Commonwealth. Successful in all six of her lifts she ended with a 56kg snatch and 73kg clean and jerk for a 129kg total to put her in second behind Ulina Sagone of Fiji. Both weights were personal bests.
“It is so brilliant, it’s an amazing achievement to get a medal on the first day,” said Gabell. “I won’t lie, I was expecting a bronze, I thought at least a bronze, but a silver is even better. This is a highlight of my career, a good starting point you could say.”