The athletes and officials behind Scotland’s Commonwealth Games charge were celebrating today after securing the country’s best ever medal haul an overseas Games.
Victory for David McMath in the double trap shooting event secured Team Scotland’s seven gold of the multi-sport event to date, and took the overall medal tally to 30, one more more than the number racked up in Melbourne 12 years ago.
With two more medals secured soon afterwards, bringing to the total up to 32, the gold rush at Gold Coast 2018 was hailed as “sensational.”
With the Games running until Sunday, Scotland look set to amass further medals in the days ahead. Boxers Reece McFadden and John Docherty have already booked their places in semi-finals, and will take bronze medals at the very least.
Achieving the landmark tally fulfils the primary ambition of Team Scotland officials, who had set a target of taking home at least 30 medals.
Duncan Scott, the prodigious 20-year-old swimmer from Alloa, has helped claim nearly a fifth of Scotland’s overall medal tally, having won six in various individual and team events in Australia, in the process becoming Scotland’s most decorated athlete at a single Games.
Scotland’s 31st medal at the Gold Coast proved to be a particularly poignant one, with James Heatly’s bronze the country’s first diving medal in 60 years.
That longstanding record was set by Heatley’s late grandfather, Sir Peter, a former chair of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Although there is no chance of Scotland coming close to the 53 medals won at Glasgow 2014, the team’s success at the Gold Coast Games is in part down to strength in numbers. With 224 athletes, the Team Scotland contingent in Australia is the largest ever at an overseas Games.
But it is also the legacy of a deliberate strategy which, much like Team GB in recent Olympics, has prioritised those sports where Scotland’s competitors stand a good chance of success.
That was, in part, informed by circumstance. Judo, where Scotland claimed no less than 13 medals at Glasgow 2014, was replaced by basketball at the Gold Coast,
An athlete quota set out by the Commonwealth Games Federation, meanwhile, placed limits on team sizes in individual sports.
As long ago as last February, Mike Whittingham, sportscotland’s director of high performance, made clear there would be consequences, stating that “we are only investing in people who can deliver us medals.”
Consequently, Team Scotland’s own selection criteria was toughened, requiring athletes to meet a minimum performance level of a top six or “top half of the field” - whichever is tighter.
Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said: “Once again Team Scotland has delivered on the global stage with a string of sensational performances surpassing our best ever performance at an away Games in the Gold Coast.
“For many of those medal-winning athletes, the 2018 Commonwealth Games marked the next step on an incredible sporting journey, and we are thrilled for each and every one of them who have brought home a medal.”